Catherine Pass |

Little Cottonwood

Hiking Catherine Pass - Little Cottonwood Hiking Catherine Pass
Little Cottonwood

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

Overview

RATING: Easy/Moderate Hike

Sat

41 | 30

Sun

46 | 31

Mon

48 | 34

Tue

47 | 35

Wed

46 | 35

View Full Weather Details
SEASON: Summer, Fall
GEAR: Standard Hiking Gear
WATER: Bring All You Need

Sat

41 | 30

Sun

46 | 31

Mon

48 | 34

Tue

47 | 35

Wed

46 | 35

View Full Weather Details
Sugarloaf Mountain (just left of center) and Mount Baldy (just right of center) from near the start of the hike.

Sugarloaf Mountain (just left of center) and Mount Baldy (just right of center) from near the start of the hike.

Catherine Pass, allowing easy passage between Little and Big Cottonwood Canyons, is a stunning wildflower hike. In many ways, I like this hike better than Secret Lake. Because the hike is on the north side of the canyon, it has views of the south ridge of Little Cottonwood, and I would argue more dramatic scenery than Secret Lake. In addition, wildflowers, grassy meadows, and views into Big Cottonwood Canyon from the pass make this an excellent outing.

The distance and elevation gain make this a good shorter hike. Those wanting a longer outing can descend to Lake Catherine in the Big Cottonwood Canyon or traverse the ridgeline east to the summit of Sunrise Peak. From the pass, there are many options along the ridgelines.

Note: This pass can also be reached from Big Cottonwood Canyon (see the Lake Catherine - Big Cottonwood Canyon hike for more information). This route is shorter, but more difficult parking.
The meadow en route to the Catherines Pass.

The meadow en route to the Catherines Pass.

Getting There

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

Follow 6200 South which becomes Wasatch Blvd for 1.8 miles to the stop light and signs for Big Cottonwood Canyon. Continue south (straight) through the light an additional 2.3 miles to a junction and light. Stay left here, reaching the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon in an additional 1.6 miles.

From the mouth of Little Cottonwood, travel up the canyon 11.2 miles to the signed Secret Lake Trailhead parking, just before the Albion Basin Campground.

Note: The trailhead described here starts in Albion Basin. The area is incredibly popular, and the parking can fill up by 7AM on the weekends. Even during the week, I have seen it full by 8AM. You can alternatively start this hike from the base of Alta and use the Albion Meadows trail to reach the trailhead described here. This drops the parking issue but adds about 3.5 miles roundtrip to the hike. There is an $8 fee (2020) to drive the road to Albion Basin above the base of Alta.
Note: The Albion Basin road usually does not open until mid-to-late June due to snow. If in doubt, check with the Town of Alta
Excellent sunrise on the peaks above Alta.

Excellent sunrise on the peaks above Alta.

Route

From the Catherine Pass Trailhead, cross the Albion Basin Road and start up the trail as it passes near the ski lifts. The trail, and old route used by miners, is easy to follow. It climbs with views of Devils Castle and Sugarloaf Mountain dominating to the south. At a junction, stay left (right goes down to the Albion Basin Campground).

The trial climbs a bit more and enters a stunning meadow. The meadow, at the base of Mt Tuscarora, if often a carpet of wildflowers in mid-to-late summer. The trail continues, climbing steeply and making switchbacks up to the pass.

From the pass, Lake Catherine is directly below on the Big Cottonwood side, with Sunset Peak east along the ridge (see the Sunset Peak - Big Cottonwood Canyon hike for more details). Either are good side trips! Or, take in the views and simply return the same way.


Maps

Route / 3.40 miles / Elevation Range 9,383 - 10,238 ft.
Printable Maps:
Catherine Pass Trailhead

12T 447651mE 4492634mN

N40° 34' 58" W111° 37' 07"

Jct - Stay left

12T 448561mE 4492207mN

N40° 34' 45" W111° 36' 28"

Meadows

12T 448977mE 4492410mN

N40° 34' 51" W111° 36' 10"

Catherine Pass

12T 449337mE 4492387mN

N40° 34' 51" W111° 35' 55"

Lake Catherine

12T 449766mE 4492456mN

N40° 34' 53" W111° 35' 37"

Jct - Right (Down hill)

12T 449359mE 4492052mN

N40° 34' 40" W111° 35' 54"

Jct - Left

12T 449450mE 4492040mN

N40° 34' 39" W111° 35' 50"

Sunset Peak

12T 449752mE 4491982mN

N40° 34' 38" W111° 35' 37"

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