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Secret Lake

Secret Lake
aka: Cecret Lake, Albion Basin

Little Cottonwood Canyon
Wasatch Mountains

Mountain Hiking

          Secret Lake is a beautiful lake located among alpine meadows in Little Cottonwood Canyons Albion Basin. Some folks spell Secret Lake as Cecret Lake, but the USGS maps list it as Secret Lake so I will stick with that. This is a hike that everyone can certainly enjoy since the route contains little difficulty and is very short.

Click Here for MapGeneral Information:
          The hike to Secret Lake is 1 mile and will take the average hiker about 30 minutes to reach. The hike is relatively flat and is more of a stroll than a hike. This trail is suitable for small children and seniors. Weather can change quickly and afternoon thunderstorms are not uncommon. No swimming is permitted in the lake. The lake is usually accessible from mid summer until the first serious snow fall. About mid August Albion Basin explodes with the color of radiant wild flowers. Around the first week of October the autumn leaves change color and provide a new color setting.

          There is nothing difficult about this hike. Navigation for this route is easy, but for those who just have to carry a map "Brighton" is the USGS 7.5 minute topographical map which shows Secret Lake.

          Stronger hikers might also want to visit the summit of Sugarloaf Peak. This will add an extra two hours round trip to your hiking time. Since 11,051' Sugarloaf Peak is the 13th highest peak in Salt Lake City this is a good time to tick the summit off your peak baggers list. The short trip to the summit of Sugarloaf offers no difficulties.

          Excellent camping is available at the Albion Basin Campground which is located at the trailhead. There is a campground host on site. Restrooms and drinking water are provided. Both reserved and first come first served sites are available. Reserve America handles on-line site reservations.

View of Devils Castle from the trail. Secret Lake

Trailhead Information:
          From I-15 in Sandy, Utah take Exit #298 (9000 South) and head east on Highway 209 (9000 South) for 6.9 miles at which point Highway 209 joins Highway 210 (Little Cottonwood Canyon Road) at a Y-Junction. All mileage in this canyon is measured from this Y-Junction. The junction is identified be a huge flashing message board on the south side of the road and a park and ride lot on the north side of the canyon. The park and ride lot has a restroom.

          From the Y-Junction at the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon drive up canyon 11.1 miles to a parking lot on the left side of the road just before the entrance to Albion Basin Campground. The road up Little Cottonwood Canyon is paved as far as the Alta Ski Resort but the last 2.4 miles of the road is a well maintained gravel road.

Secret Lake from above

Route Information:
          The trail begins at the entrance to the Albion Basin Campground (N40 34' 40", W111 36' 47"). Your destination is Secret Lake, the trail is supposed to be signed but sometimes signage is lacking.

          From the Albion Basin Campground entrance the trail hikes around the west side of the campground and interests an access road. Follow the access road west. After a short distance the access road will fork with the right fork leading to a cabin and the left fork leading to Secret Lake. Take the left fork and continue to Secret Lake. The road you are following shortly turns into a wide trail as it climbs past an old mine to Secret Lake. The area is criss-crossed with minor trails, just keep following the most well used trail west and you will reach Secret Lake (N40 34' 18", W111 37' 17"). Enjoy the view of the North Face of Devils Castle as you hike to the lake. The view of Devils Castle is very impressive.

          Since the trail to Secret Lake is more of a stroll than a hike many will arrive at the lake with energy to burn. May I suggest hiking to the summit of 11,051' Sugarloaf Peak for those who want a little more exercise without to much difficulty. Those who like a real challenge can try to complete the Devils Castle Traverse. Sugarloaf Peak is the 13th highest peak in Salt Lake City and this is a good time to tick the summit off your peak baggers list. This is also one of the easier high summits to reach.

Sierra at the waterfall exiting Secret Lake. Wild flowers along the trail

Albion Basin Shuttle:
         
Parking in the upper canyon is limited and often difficult to find. If you want to be assured of a parking place on a weekend it is best to arrive early (before 9:00 a.m.).

          You can make life much easier and avoid the parking issues by taking the free Alta Shuttle. The information booth at the end of the paved road can answer any of your shuttle questions. If you see a sign stating "Parking Lots Full in Albion Basin" save yourself the headache and just hop on the next shuttle. Riding the shuttle up and hiking back to your vehicle is a very popular option.

          The Town of Alta sponsors the free shuttle service to help reduce automobile traffic into Albion Basin. The shuttle transports visitors from the end of the paved Little Cottonwood Canyon road (UT 210), in the Town of Alta, for 2.5 miles to the upper end of Albion Basin road. Shuttle service begins mid-July and operates on weekends (Saturday and Sunday), and holidays (July 24th, Labor Day). The service extends into September if required.

          The shuttle consists of two or three 14-passenger vans that operate between 9:00 a.m. through 4:30 p.m. The typical wait time between shuttles is 10 to 20 minutes. While the shuttle is not mandatory, visitors are encouraged to park their car and utilize this service to reduce resource impacts along the gravel road. Albion Basin road will remain open for visitors choosing not to use the shuttle. The shuttle has three pick-up and drop-off points: just west of the summer information booth, Sunnyside Parking Area/Catherine’s Pass trailhead, and Secret Lake trailhead at Albion Basin campground. The last van will depart from the Secret Lake trailhead at the upper end of the road at 4:30 p.m.

Video:
          Here is a short video taken the second weekend of August when the wild flowers were at their finest.

 

 


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