Hike to Big Cottonwood Canyon's Desolation Lake

Mill D North Trailhead

Desolation Lake offers a quiet destination with wildlife sightings from the trail and Wasatch wildflower fields during summer months.

Drive 9 miles into Big Cottonwood Canyon and park at the Mill D North Trailhead (on the left). On the right side of the road, there is a restroom. The trial head begins on the left, there is a visible sign you cannot miss before beginning.

The trail is about 7.4 miles round trip, about half way through the trail you will come to a fork with a sign (Dog Lake .6 miles, Desolation Lake 1.9 miles). The Desolation Lake trail winds on until you reach the lake. You will climb around 1900 feet in elevation; the trail is a steady uphill climb but nothing too drastic as you can mountain bike up it.

Camping is allowed, dogs are not. Swimming is also prohibited. There are trails that go beyond the lake so you can walk to the ridge line or hang out by the lake. There are trees for hammocking as well!

Pack List

Day Hike:
  • Running shoes are okay
  • Water
  • Sunscreen
  • Snack
  • Hammock
  • Camera
Overnight:
  • Tent
  • Sleeping Bag/Mat
Show More
RT Distance 7.4 Miles
Elevation Gain 1900 Feet
Activities Chillin, Camping, Photography, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Bathrooms
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
Lake
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

BCC Delivers again

Very cool hike with a great lake at the top. Make sure to stop for spring water across the stream on the way up.

Another Great Hike in the Wasatch!

This is a beautiful hike through aspen forests and beautiful meadows, ending in a secluded and peaceful lake. The grade is moderate here, and the trail isn't as rocky as others in the area so it's great for trail running as well. In the summer, the wildflowers are absolutely stunning, dotting the landscape the entire length of the hike. Lots of mosquitoes around that time of year too so bring the bug spray! It's very secluded and peaceful up at the lake, and camping here is a favorite activity for locals. Fall is stunning (as is all of Big Cottonwood) with all of the beautiful aspen. Be sure to watch out for mountain bikers coming down from the Wasatch Crest Trail. This hike was closer to 8 miles according to GPS.

My Go-To for Trail Running

The Mill D North trail to Desolation Lake is one of my favorite trails for trail running in the Wasatch. It has a couple natural springs along the way where you can fill up water. During the fall the colors are absolutely stunning!


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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