Brighton Ridge Run |

Big Cottonwood Canyon

Hiking Brighton Ridge Run - Big Cottonwood Canyon Hiking Brighton Ridge Run
Big Cottonwood Canyon

Overview | Getting There | Route | Photos | Maps | Comments


RATING: Moderate


46 | 29


56 | 32


68 | 41


61 | 47


52 | 43

View Full Weather Details
SEASON: Summer, Fall
GEAR: Standard Hiking Gear


46 | 29


56 | 32


68 | 41


61 | 47


52 | 43

View Full Weather Details
Twin Lakes transitioning from fall to winter from near Twin Lakes Pass

Twin Lakes transitioning from fall to winter from near Twin Lakes Pass

A peak baggers delight! The Brighton Ridge Run follows the ridgeline above Brighton, visiting eight summits over 10,000'. The ridge run makes for a full day of ridgeline, views, and peaks. The hiking is straightforward, with no scrambling or severe difficulties along the way. The easy access and terrain make this a good hike for intermediates looking to get some experience before moving into some of the more difficult ridge hikes in the Wasatch.

Wildflowers and fall colors make this a wonderful summer and fall hike.

Note: The full ridge run is a relatively long day. Those looking to for a shorter section because of motivation (or weather), can easily access or descend the ridge at Catherine Pass. Using Catherine pass for access breaks the hike into two sections. The section from Clayton Peak to Catherine Pass is more time-consuming. I felt like Catherine Pass to Twin Lakes Pass was the more spectacular section.

The ridge can be hiked in either direction. I describe it from east to west, since that is the way I have done it.

Warning: The ridge is exposed, be sure the weather forecast is good before setting out. This is not the place to be during afternoon thunderstorms!
Pioneer and Sunset Peaks

Pioneer and Sunset Peaks

Getting There

Big Cottonwood Canyon is on the east side of the Salt Lake City Valley. Get there by taking I-215 to the east, taking exit 6 off the interstate and heading east.

Follow 6200 South which becomes Wasatch Blvd for 1.8 miles to the stop light and signs for Big Cottonwood Canyon.

Turn left at the light and reset your odometer.

Drive up Big Cottonwood Canyon 14 miles to the small community of Brighton. At the loop, go right, with Brighton Ski resort just ahead. Parking in the large parking lot near the main Brighton Ski Resort Building.

Sunset on Sunset Peak

Sunset on Sunset Peak


To The Pass - 2.4 miles
From the Brighton parking lot, go just right (south) of the main Brighton building. A path leads up the slope, then heads right and passes between large logs to become a single narrower track. The single track switchbacks up the hillside, crossing under the ski lifts, before heading more south after a short steep section. The junction to Dog Lake is reached, go left here, then almost immediately left again on the signed Clayton Peak Trail.

The trail begins ascending through the dense forest. This shaded section of trail climbs then crosses under a ski lift. After this first crossing under the ski lift, the ski resort is ever-present, as the trail meanders across the slopes and climbs alongside a ski resort maintenance road. Continue up to the ridge, where the trail joins the summer maintenance road.

From the pass, Mount Timpanogos is visible to the south, as are views to the east of the Heber Valley.

To Clayton Peak (10,721') - 1.5 miles roundtrip from the pass

Note: Clayton Peak is the odd man out, as it is the only peak on the ridge run that requires backtracking. From the summit of Clayton, you backtrack to pass before continuing south and west along the ridge. I think it is well worth the side trip if you haven't done it before.

Follow the maintenance road north as it goes along the ridge. Within just a few minutes, as the road begins cutting across the hillside, take the side trail that leaves the road and heads toward the summit Clayton Peak.

After a few small switchbacks, the trail crosses to the east side of the ridge. Be sure, if you lose the trail in boulders, to re-find it! On my trip up, I lost the trail and boulder hopped directly up the ridge. On the way down, the trail proved much easier!

Once on the summit, Lackawaxen Lake is the lake directly below the peak. Heber Valley is to the east and the dramatic Big Cottonwood Canyon to the west. Return to the pass the same way.

Pass To Preston Peak (10,315') - 0.35 miles
Follow the dirt road south a few minutes until it reaches the top of the ski lift. From here, the trail becomes a single track as it climbs to Preston Peak with a plaque at its summit.

Preston to 10,321' - 0.5 miles
The trail descends through forested terrain, passes the top of a ski lift, then ascends to the non-descript "summit" 10,321' which is more of a high point on the Pioneer Peak ridge.

10,321' to Pioneer Peak (10,420') - 0.65 miles
As the trail descends 10,321' an old mining track comes up from the east, and a mine is passed before climbing the ridge to Pioneer Peak. Views of Heber Valley are excellent in this section.

Pioneer Peak to Sunset Peak (10,648') - 0.4 miles
The trail descends Pioneer Peak on the Brighton side to the saddle, then crosses over to the east side for most of the climb up to Sunset Peak. Sunset if very popular with hikers.

Sunset Peak to Catherine Pass - 0.6 miles
The trail is well used from Sunset to Catherine, though with quite a few junctions. Stay on the trail near the ridge, then crosses to the south side of the ridge and descends to Catherine Pass.

Note: If exiting or accessing via Catherine Pass, it is 2 miles from the pass on the well-used trail down from the pass that passes Lake Catherine, Lake Martha, and Lake Mary en route to the Brighton parking lot.

Catherine Pass To Mt. Tuscarora (10,640') - 0.3 miles
Follow the trail up the ridge from the ridge. The trail here is well used and easy to follow. As it nears Tuscarora, the views down into Brighton are excellent.

Mt. Tuscarora to Mt. Wolverine (10,795') - 0.3 miles
The summit of Mt. Wolverine is a short distance from Mt. Tuscarora. The trail stays mostly near the ridge, with little elevation loss en route.

Mt. Wolverine to Twin Lakes Pass - 1 mile

Note: From Wolverine, some hike north to Mt. Millicent, then descend about 600' of boulders to the Millicent Ski Left, then down to Twin Lakes. Continuing on the ridge to Twin Lakes Pass, I thought, was more photogenic as the trail follows the rim of Wolverine Cirque. Time-wise, the Millicent route is likely a bit shorter, though the boulders will be a bit slow going.

From Wolverine, the trail stays near the ridge above the dramatic Wolverine Cirque. The small summit crossed en route to Twin Lakes is Patsy Marley. Unnamed officially on maps, but a popular ski run in the winter.

Twin Lakes Pass Return - 2.7 miles
When the trail reaches the 4-way junction at Twin Lakes Pass, go north on the single track that angles down toward Big Cottonwood. When the trail reaches the ski resort dirt road, follow sings right for Brighton.

The road turns to a single track again near Twin Lakes. From Twin Lakes, take the most used trail downhill. The trail merges with an old road, then splits. Go right down to a trail junction, then right again to Silver Lake. Left at Silver Lake follows the lakeshore back to the visitor center and a short walk along the road back to Brighton.


Route / 10.65 miles / Elevation Range 8,706 - 10,782 ft.
Printable Maps:

12T 450565mE 4494340mN

N40° 35' 54" W111° 35' 03"


12T 450661mE 4494222mN

N40° 35' 50" W111° 34' 59"

Dog Lake Jct

12T 450578mE 4493357mN

N40° 35' 22" W111° 35' 03"

Clayton Peak Jct

12T 450574mE 4493332mN

N40° 35' 22" W111° 35' 03"

Leave Road

12T 452410mE 4493234mN

N40° 35' 19" W111° 33' 45"

Join Road / Pass

12T 452028mE 4492810mN

N40° 35' 05" W111° 34' 01"

Clayton Peak

12T 452613mE 4493476mN

N40° 35' 27" W111° 33' 36"

Preston Peak

12T 451591mE 4492533mN

N40° 34' 56" W111° 34' 19"

Peak 10,321'

12T 450993mE 4492570mN

N40° 34' 57" W111° 34' 45"

Pioneer Peak

12T 450125mE 4492389mN

N40° 34' 51" W111° 35' 22"

Sunset Peak

12T 449751mE 4491982mN

N40° 34' 38" W111° 35' 37"

Jct. Right

12T 449450mE 4492039mN

N40° 34' 39" W111° 35' 50"

Straight Along Ridge

12T 449358mE 4492051mN

N40° 34' 40" W111° 35' 54"

Catherine Pass

12T 449337mE 4492387mN

N40° 34' 51" W111° 35' 55"

Mt. Tuscarora

12T 449327mE 4492795mN

N40° 35' 04" W111° 35' 56"

Mt. Wolverine

12T 448921mE 4492912mN

N40° 35' 08" W111° 36' 13"

Twin Lakes Pass

12T 448457mE 4493931mN

N40° 35' 40" W111° 36' 33"

Right on Single Track

12T 449863mE 4494942mN

N40° 36' 14" W111° 35' 33"

Right to Silver Lake

12T 450144mE 4495193mN

N40° 36' 22" W111° 35' 21"


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