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3 Can't-Miss Alta Hikes

3 Can't-Miss Alta Hikes

| 1 Comment | August 6th, 2019 | By Adam Fehr


It’s no Cecret, Alta has some of the best hiking trails in the Wasatch. Located 8,569 feet above sea level and just 30 minutes from the Salt Lake Valley, Alta has become a go-to respite from the heat of Salt Lake summers. 

Today, Alta is best known for two things—powder skiing in the winter and wildflower hikes in the summer. With myriad articles and online resources dedicated to introducing Cecret Lake Interpretive Trail to outdoor enthusiasts, it’s safe to say, the secret is out about Cecret Lake. 

With over 13 miles of Forest Service trails, it's time to explore the under-appreciated hiking trails of Alta. The Alta Environmental Center highlighted three of Alta's top hiking trails (not named Cecret Lake) from the new Alta Summer Trail Map.

Lower Albion Meadows Trail | 0.5 miles | 100 vertical feet

With summer operations moving over to the Wildcat Basecamp for the summer of 2019, the Lower Albion Meadows Trail is the perfect trail for new hikers or a new starting point for veteran explorers. The family-friendly Lower Albion Meadows Trail (L.A.M. Trail) starts at the base of the Wildcat lift.

A family explores the Lower Albion Meadows Trail | Photo: Rocko Menzyk

A family explores the Lower Albion Meadows Trail

A slight uphill leads you to a wide trail that heads east towards the Albion base area, paralleling the Transfer Tow and what used to be the main drag of the historic mining town of Alta. The L.A.M. Trail passes through fields of wildflowers on Alf’s High Rustler—one of the most recognizable pitches in skiing's history.

Wildflowers on Alf's High Rustler | Photo: Rocko Menzyk

Wildflowers on Alf's High Rustler

As the path makes its way below Eagle’s Nest and North Rustler, you’ll intercept the remnants of the old jump hill that hosted Alta’s famous Gelande competitions. If you close your eyes you can picture the Engen Brothers soaring through the air on wooden skis.

The Lower Albion Meadows Trail look towards Albion base area

A series of small rocks allow for a fun creek crossing near the end of the trail. From here, you can connect to additional trails as you reach the Sunnyside and Albion lifts. The Albion Meadows Trail continues uphill to the Albion Basin Campground and the Cecret Lake Trailhead. Snake Pit—a steep, advanced trail currently being developed in coordination with the Forest Service—winds its way up to a small waterfall. Please respect closed trail signs and do not pick or trample the wildflowers.

Catherine’s Pass Trail | 1.5 miles | 800 vert. feet

The Catherine’s Pass Trail is another local favorite accessing incredible mountain views and plenty of opportunities to admire wildflowers and wildlife. The moderately difficult trail starts from the Catherine’s Pass Trailhead near the top terminal of the Sunnyside lift. It’s also accessible from the Albion Meadows Trail from the Albion base area (1.4 miles and 1,000 vertical feet each way).

 Catherine's Pass Trail with views of Devil's Castle | Photo: Rocko Menzyk

Catherine's Pass Trail with views of Devil's Castle

The trail climbs uphill, providing great views of Devil’s Castle and the Albion Basin, before entering into a wooded area that offers a little shade on a warm day. The trail then opens into a meadow of wildflowers and wetlands. Be on the lookout for deer and moose in this area, but don’t forget to take a closer look at the abundance of plant life, critters, butterflies, and other insects that make their home in the mountain vegetation.

 A moose enjoys a meadow in the morning | Photo: Rocko Menzyk

A moose enjoys a meadow in the morning

After the meadow, the trail continues uphill via a short series of switchbacks leading to Catherine’s Pass. Visible from the top of the trail are the Alta-Brighton lakes of Catherine, Martha and Mary. Short hikes from Catherine’s Pass will connect you to Point Supreme, Sunset Pass, Sunset Peak, or into Brighton and Big Cottonwood Canyon.

 The last switchbacks to the to of Catherine's Pass | Photo: Rocko Menzyk

The last switchbacks to the to of Catherine's Pass

Catherine’s Pass Trail is a great way to access some of the best views of Alta. It’s also a great starting point for longer adventures into the Wasatch. Have fun, but please don't pick or trample the wildflowers.

 

Twin Lakes Pass/Grizzly Gulch | 1.8 miles | 1,350 vert. feet

Starting across the street from the Snowpine Lodge, Twin Lakes Pass/Grizzly Gulch is a moderate to advanced hiking trail leads to the pass between Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons. The trail starts out fairly steep through a beautiful section of aspens and wildflowers before connecting to a stretch of gravel doubletrack. The wildflowers are prevalent in this area early in the wildflower season. If the slopes of Alta are still snow-covered, this side of the canyon melts out a little quicker and provides some beautiful colors.

 The Twin Lakes Pass trail begins amongst the aspens | Photo: Rocko Menzyk

The Twin Lakes Pass trail begins amongst the aspens

The trail continues relatively steeply uphill until reaching remnants of the former mining town of Michigan City at 9,400 feet. Originally founded in 1869, the Michigan City Mine ran until 1927. Historical artifacts of Alta’s mining history are easy to spot, a stark contrast from the beautiful wildflowers and nearby babbling creeks. Please do not disturb the mining relics. They are often rusty, sharp and potentially dangerous.

 Wildflowers and mining relics | Photo: Rocko Menzyk

Wildflowers and mining relics

Continuing uphill, the trail splits, with the main trail ascending northeast to Twin Lakes Pass and another trail traversing above Michigan City and north to Davenport Hill and the top of Big Cottonwood's Silver Fork. The trail leading to Twin Lakes Pass meanders through beautiful fields of wildflowers before ascending abruptly to the end of the trail.

Nearing Twin Lakes Pass with Mount Superior in the background | Photo: Rocko Menzyk

Nearing Twin Lakes Pass with Mount Superior in the background

From the top of the pass, you can see Solitude and Brighton Resorts, Twin Lakes Reservoir, and Patsey Marley and Mount Wolverine that form the northeastern boundary of Alta Ski Area. Twin Lakes Pass connects to additional trails and ridgeline scrambles. Feel free to explore or make your way back down to the trailhead. Choose your own adventure, but please do not pick or trample the wildflowers.

Head over to Alta.com/Summer for all of the latest trail information and all things Alta Summer.

Photos: Rocko Menzyk | Words: Adam Fehr

Posted in: #AltaSummer #Environment #Tips


  
Pamela Smith August 13, 2019 Reply to Post

I will be there to hike 8/27-8/31 and was wondering if there are any guides available ? anyone to hike/ lead the way to Brighton ? I do know Alta somewhat because I've skied there for 21 years but not all trails - thank you
Pam Smith 774-244-1308 staying at Iron Blosam - will drive to Alta

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