trail to Red Pine Lake
7.0 miles (round trip)
time: 5 hours
2,040 ft. gain/loss
White Pine Trailhead
(start): 7,580 ft.
Red Pine Lake: 9,620
Popular, well maintained trail
Summer through mid-fall. Upper parts of trail are usually
covered with snow from late November through late June.
For current conditions call the Salt Lake Ranger District,
Wasatch-Cache National Forest, at (801) 943-1794.
Little Cottonwood Canyon, near Salt Lake City
in the heart of Utahs Lone Peak Wilderness Area,
Red Pine Lake definitely ranks among the prettiest of
the Wasatch Mountains high alpine lakes. It is a
popular day or overnight hike and you are bound to meet
many other trekkers along the way. If you are looking
for more solitude there are also several possible side
trips off the main trail that receive far fewer visitors.
the parking area the trail winds down a short distance
to Little Cottonwood Creek, which it crosses on a wooden
foot bridge, and then proceeds at a gentle upward slope
along the east side of White Pine Canyon. The first part
of the trail is actually an old jeep road which was once
used by small-claim miners in the upper part of the White
Pine Canyon. The mining activity long ago proved uneconomical,
however, and today few signs of this piece of Little Cottonwoods
history are evident. Vehicles are no longer allowed on
About a mile from the parking
lot the trail breaks out of the aspen trees to meet the
water at White Pine Fork, and at this point the Red Pine
Lake trail branches off to the right. Red Pine hikers
must cross another foot bridge to follow a smaller westward
trail. The elevation at this junction is about 8,040 feet,
or 460 feet higher than the trailhead parking lot.
Half a mile farther the
path rounds the ridge separating Red Pine Canyon from
White Pine Canyon and again bends to the south. At one
point the terrain drops off precipitously on the right,
opening up a panorama of Little Cottonwood Canyon. Tiny
cars can be seen meandering up from the canyon mouth on
a gray thread of asphalt two thousand feet below, but
after a few hundred feet the trail ducks back again into
the trees and the brief contact with civilization is lost.
The grade then becomes somewhat steeper as the path climbs
deeper into Red Pine Canyon. Finally, at an elevation
of 9,030 feet and a distance of 2.5 miles from the trailhead,
the trail reaches the creek in the bottom Red Pine Canyon.
At this point there is another junction in the trail,
with the path to Maybird Lakes crossing Red Pine creek
on the right. Red Pine Lake hikers should continue straight
ahead on the east side of the creek, but not before pausing
to appreciate the beauty of this spot. The forest now
has turned from aspen to conifer, and there is an abundance
of wildflowers along the grassy river bank-perfect for
a short break.
Large patches of snow often
lie across the last mile of the trail, sometimes until
mid-July. This section of the canyon is well shaded on
all sides except the north and the snow seems to last
forever. The path also gets noticeably steeper near the
top of the canyon, but finally, at an elevation of 9,600
feet, it abruptly levels off. The lake is a five or ten
minute walk to the left from the top of the canyon.
The setting of Red Pine
Lake is exquisite. The rugged crest that separates Little
Cottonwood and American Fork Canyons, as well as the Wasatch
and Uinta National Forests, lies just beyond the lake.
Pfeifferhorn Peak (11,326 ft.) juts out prominently only
a mile to the southwest, and to the north, across Little
Cottonwood Canyon, Dromedary Peak (11,107 ft.) and Superior
Peak (11,132 ft.) are clearly visible. The lake itself
is about 600 feet across, with a smaller bay protruding
on the south end where the forest comes right to the waters
Red Pine Lake
Southeast of Red Pine Lake,
0.4 mile distant and 400 feet higher in elevation, lies
Upper Red Pine Lake. There is no established trail to
Upper Red Pine, and very little vegetation exists around
the lake. The setting, however, is spectacularly wild
and rugged. The lake, which is about the same size as
its lower twin, lies directly beneath the dramatic ridgeline.
The best way to get there is along a small stream which
comes down from the upper lake to the southeast side of
Lower Red Pine. The route involves some scrambling over
boulders but is not technically difficult.
As mentioned earlier, the
trail to Maybird Lakes leaves the Red Pine Trail about
2.5 miles from the highway, or about one mile down from
Red Pine Lake. The Maybird Trail branches to the west,
crossing Red Pine Fork on a narrow wooden bridge just
after Red Pine Trail first meets the creek. It then follows
a fairly level route for about 0.5 mile in a westerly
direction before turning south again for the assent through
Maybird Gulch to the three tiny Maybird Lakes. The first
lake is about 1.3 miles from the Red Pine trail junction
at an elevation of 9,660 feet, and the second and third
lakes are situated a quarter of a mile further up the
gulch. The lakes are all small, only 100 to 150 feet across,
and the trees surrounding them are stunted. The gulch
is filled with the breakdown of the nearby cliffs, and
there is not enough soil to support a more luxuriant forest.
provided by David
Day of utahtrails.com. Click here to order his book
Favorite Hiking Trails.