Hike: Alta-Brighton Lakes Loop
Length: 8 Miles
Elevation Gain: 3000’
Parking: Albion Base Area Parking
As of October 22, the Wasatch Mountains are still open for hiking, and now is a great time to head up to Alta to enjoy the quiet period between summer and winter. Hopefully you’ve been enjoying all of our featured hikes this summer, because this fantastic loop hike is the perfect longer route to test your summer fitness prior to strapping on the boards for the winter at Alta.
Begin this roughly 8-mile loop at Alta’s Albion Base parking lot. Start up the Albion Meadows Trail toward upper Albion Basin, and follow the signs toward Catherine’s Pass. Enjoy the huge views of Devil’s Castle and see if you can catch a final glimpse of our resident moose as they prepare for winter. After about three miles, you’ll reach Catherine’s Pass, where you’ll wind downhill into Big Cottonwood Canyon, through granite boulders and huge Engelmann Spruce trees toward Lake Mary and Brighton Ski Area.
Just over a mile from Catherine’s, you’ll pass the Lake Mary Dam; continue downhill for a few hundred feet until you come to a signed, left-hand turn toward Twin Lakes. This under-utilized trail tours the upper reaches of the Brighton Lakes Basin, traversing high alpine forests and open talus slopes beneath Mount Millicent. This section of trail is somewhat faint, but keep heading north and you’ll find yourself with a view of the Twin Lakes Reservoir. Head toward the dam and find the obvious trail around the north side of Twin Lakes, and you’ll begin the final climb of this route through a portion of Solitude Ski Area and toward Twin Lakes Pass.
The dramatic final stretch of the Twin Lakes Trail leads to a huge view back into Little Cottonwood Canyon and Grizzly Gulch. Stay on the main trail in Grizzly Gulch until it turns into a 4×4 road, passing through the infamous “Chad’s Gap” area and remnants of the historic Michigan City mining settlement. Keep moving along the main gravel road until you are nearly back in downtown Alta, where a left-turn on a well-used single-track trail leads through an aspen grove and ends on the main road through town.