This is the last (at least for awhile) in a series of hikes that we've done in Utah. While this blog will continue to focus on hiking and places in Northwest Arkansas, I suspect that most readers like hiking and the outdoors in general and would appreciate the posts. Or the photos.
Last month, we made a return trip to Utah, this time to Northern Utah and Salt Lake City. We didn't have a lot of time, but did want to take a day out to go hiking. Having never been to Salt Lake City, I didn't quite know what to expect. But, the hiking near Salt Lake City was...amazing.
After a fair amount of research, and a friend recommendation, we decided to take the hike to Cecret Lake (Pronounced"Secret"). We had heard the wildflowers in the area were legendary - -and that proved to be 100% true. I'll be posting a lot of pictures -- but they don't do the abundance and vibrancy of the wildflowers justice. All of these pics were taken with an iPhone.
East of Salt Lake City are three major canyon roads: Mill Creek Canyon, Big Cottonwood Canyon and Little Cottonwood Canyon. All three go up into the mountains to the various ski resort areas in the area....all of which have a significant number of hiking trails during the summer. All travel pretty significantly up in the mountains -- which makes for cooler temperatures which we much appreciated on this July day.
The trail to Cecret Lake is near the resort at Alta. Alta approximately 11 miles up Little Cottonwood Canyon Road -- which is the southern-most of the canyon roads.
During the busy season, unless hikers arrive really early, they'll be expected to park in a designated parking area at the Albion Base Area, and then take a shuttle bus up to the Cecret Lake Trailhead (as well as other trails in the area). The buses run approximately every 20 minutes.
The line was short so we opted to take the shuttle up to the Cecret Lake Trailhead -- and then hiked back down to our car from the Upper Albion Meadows Trail.
The trail takes off behind the parking area/shuttle drop-off point. There are some pit toilets here, and some potable water spigots as well. The hike takes off gradually up the hill with views in every direction of wildflowers and the surrounding mountains.
The trail climbs very gradually at first. It's a very popular trail, and well-maintained, so it's easy to follow. And, if I haven't mentioned the wildflowers, they are everywhere: purple, white, yellow, orange, pink - everything.
I will note here that although you can look for miles in any direction and just see natural beauty and amazement, this is a popular trail, so you will be sharing it with quite a few other people. If you're looking for peace and complete alone time, this probably isn't the best hike. But the trail is popular with good reason.
There are a couple of spur trails on the route up the hill. The one to the left is the Devil's Castle Loop - -a short 1.8 mile loop trail that is also shared with mountain bikes. The one to the right goes to an amazing vista.
After a little more than .6 miles hiking, the trail starts to ascend aggressively up a wildflower-covered hill. This is the final climb to get to Cecret Lake.
After a couple of switchbacks, at .75 miles the trail reaches Cecret Lake. It's a beautiful, clear, mountain lake.
There is also a trail that goes all the way around Cecret Lake so you can view it from all angles. It's worth taking the nice stroll and stopping to enjoy all of the views along the way.
I'd estimate the it to be roughly .5 miles hiking to loop around the lake (this is not an official trail distance).
When you've had your fill of Cecret Lake, you can head back to the parking area the way you came.
On our way back down, I explored the stream a bit along the Devil's Castle Loop - -it was a really pretty mountain stream with more amazing wildflowers.
When we arrived at the trail head, we made the decision to hike the trail back down to the Albion Base Area.
The Upper Albion Meadows Trail descends along the hillside through more amazing mountain views and wildflowers.
If you are an avid hiker, I'd definitely recommend making the hike back down to the Albion Base parking area vs taking the shuttle back down. It's a beautiful hike.
This is a magnificent area with a lot of trails -- and one I look forward to visiting again at some point.
Distance: 1.5 miles round trip to Cecret Lake. The trail around Cecret Lake is approximately .5 miles. The Upper Albion Meadows Trail (back to the parking area) is 2 miles each way. So you can make this a 1.5 mile hike, or up to a 6 mile hike if you hike the Upper Albion Meadows trail both directions.
Difficulty: Easy-Moderate. The trails are well-traveled and easy hiking. The Cecret Lake Trail has an elevation gain of 420 feet so there is some climbing. The Upper Albion Meadows Trail has an elevation change of 1100 feet -- so it would be quite a bit of climbing to hike it both directions.
Footwear: Hiking boots or trail shoes are preferred. Tennis shoes would work if that's all you have, but the trail is a bit rocky so not preferred.
Hiking Guide: They give out trail maps at the Albion Base Area entrance.
Star Rating: 5 of 5