Hike Mt. Superior and Monte Cristo

Mt. Superior Trail, Alta, Utah, United States

  • Activities:

    Photography, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Advanced

  • Season:

    Summer, Autumn

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    6.25 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    2500 Feet

Food Nearby
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Mt. Superior and Monte Cristo are Iconic Wasatch peaks with amazing panoramic views. The trailhead is easily accessible from Salt Lake City. 

Mt. Superior, and its close neighbor, Monte Cristo, are two of the most iconic peaks in Little Cottonwood Canyon. Looming over Alta and Snowbird Ski resorts from the north side of the canyon, these two peaks dominate the Little Cottonwood skyline. Mt. Superior tops out at 11,132 feet, and Monte Cristo at 11,040 feet.

Prime hiking season occurs when all the snow has melted off the trail, typically mid June through September. The trail begins in the Town of Alta (8,950 ft.) behind the Sheriff's office. It starts as a double track dirt road. After several hundred yards, a single track trail branches off to the left; this is the trail you will want to take.

The trail switchbacks several times, and leads to Cardiff pass, also known as Telephone Pole pass. This is due to a prominent telephone pole and associated telephone wires that crest over the pass. Once you are on Cardiff pass, head west along the ridge line. The trail is not as well defined in this section, but still easy to follow. Here hikers will be able to see that the ridge they are on leads directly to the summit of Mt. Superior. As hikers approach Mt. Superior, the terrain becomes increasingly steep and rocky. Some sections of trail become somewhat of a scramble, with a bit of exposure. It will be very apparent to hikers when they reach the summit of Superior. It is the highest point on the ridge at 11,132 feet. Hikers are rewarded with incredible 360 degree views of the Salt Lake Valley, Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons, and the rest of the Wasatch Range.

To the west, the ridge drops into a saddle before ascending to an equally prominent, but slightly lower peak. This peak is Monte Cristo. There is only several hundred yards of scrambling that separate the two peaks, so summiting them in quick succession in very easy. The route back down is exactly the same as the route up. The higher, rocky sections of the Superior and Monte Cristo are a favorite habitat of mountain goats. These large, white creatures are amazing to see in person, and can easily be observed from the trail. Be sure to respect them in their environment, and do not attempt to approach them. The wildflower displays in July and August are not to be missed, and the fall colors in September and October provide amazing colors as well. This is exclusively a day hike. There are no good camp sites along the trail, not to mention camping is not allowed in Little Cottonwood except in designated sites. The hike only covers several miles, but gains over two thousand feet in elevation. Hikers should be comfortable with physical exertion, as well as scrambling with exposure. During late summer and fall, hikers can cap off their adventure with a brat and a beer at Snowbird's Oktoberfest, located around Snowbird's Tram Plaza.

Pack List

  • Water
  • Sunscreen, hat, sunglasses
  • Sturdy hiking shoes
  • Food
  • Camera
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

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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Reviews

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Definitely not for he faint of heart, but Mt Superior is one of the most beautiful summits in the Wasatch. I recommend having a little bit of rock climbing experience because of the exposure and there are a few down climbs on the descent.

7 months ago
7 months ago

Excellent description and even better trail. I've lived in salt lake my entire life and had never done this hike. I summitted around sunrise and it was spectacular. Definitely a good idea to know where you're going, though. The trail is easy to lose. But that shouldn't be a deterrent, just something to be aware of.

over 2 years ago
over 2 years ago

Are we missing something? Suggest an edit

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