Red Pine Lake is to access with only a short, ~25 minute drive from Salt Lake City. The lake offers an incredible alpine setting and views with access to several classic Wasatch Peaks.

Red Pine Lake, located in Red Pine Fork of the Wasatch Mountains, is one of the premier hiking and backpacking destinations in Little Cottonwood Canyon. Red Pine Fork is sandwiched in between White Pine Fork and Maybird Gulch to the east and west, respectively. All three are accessed via the White Pine Trailhead, about 5.5 miles up Little Cottonwood Canyon on its south side. The trailhead features pit toilets and ample room to park. However, during weekends in the high season, (July through September) the trailhead can become quite crowded, so be sure to get there early to reserve a good parking spot.

From the parking lot, the trail immediately crosses Little Cottonwood creek via a sturdy footbridge, then begins climbing steeply up the south side of the canyon. Roughly a mile later, the trail splits to access either White Pine Fork or Red Pine Fork. Head right to access Red Pine Fork. The trail continues to gain elevation for about 2.5 miles through thick aspens and pines, breaking occasionally to offer breathtaking down-canyon views. Hikers will then reach Red Pine Lake, located at 9,640 feet.

There are many campsites surrounding the lake. Hikers can stop there, or continue roughly a mile further to Upper Red Pine Lake. The trail to Upper Red Pine Lake is not as well defined as the previous section of trail, but still fairly easy to follow. The campsites around Upper Red Pine Lake are not as nice as those located at Red Pine Lake. The area has much less human traffic however, so campers will be rewarded with a more solitary, peaceful camp. Campers and hikers with more time to spare can access White Baldy (11,321 ft.) or the Pfeifferhorn (11,326 ft.) from the top of Red Pine Fork. Little Cottonwood Canyon is a watershed area, so swimming in Red Pine Lake, or any Lake in the canyon, is not allowed. Water should be filtered from lakes and streams in the area before it is potable. Wildflowers are not to be missed during the summer months, and wildlife is abundant in the area. A camera is highly recommended for capturing the awesome flora and fauna.

Upon returning to Salt Lake, Lone Star Taqueria is my go-to spot for a post-adventure feast. Their fish tacos are the best in the Salt Lake Valley (in my humble opinion), and coupled with an ice cold Corona, make for the perfect way to cap off a trip to the mountains.

Pack List

-Sleepingbag-Tent-Food-Water (water filter)-Hat, sunscreen, sunglasses-Warm clothes

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RT Distance 7.3 Miles
Elevation Gain 1960 Feet
Activities Camping, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Food Nearby
Forest
Lake
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

One of my favorite hikes in the Wasatch!

This hike is one of the most picturesque in the state. It's diverse too and includes waterfalls and forested areas, as well as beautiful views of the canyon and city below. It's a steep one so know your fitness level but the rewards are great! Start early if you need to go slow because much of this trail is exposed at the beginning. The lake is secluded and beautiful and makes a perfect spot to camp for the night. Please remember the principals of Leave No Trace and make sure that your campsite is at least 200 feet from the lake. There is absolutely no swimming allowed here since this is a watershed and fires are also not permitted.

Beautiful in the fall!

The views are gorgeous all along this hike and the fall colors are everywhere during that time of year!

Great Hike

This is hike is beautiful and fun. The lake is gorgeous in the early morning sun and the cool temps were nice to hike in as well as being the only people up the canyon. This hike is nothing to be worried about


Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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