Salt Lake City is known for epic skiing in the winter, however, summertime offers some of the region's best hiking opportunities. Numerous hikes include lakes as destinations and are just minutes from Salt Lake City ski resorts, which offer a variety of summer activities and lodging deals.
These five lake hikes are excellent examples of what the area has to offer. Each sits high in the mountains, at roughly 9,000 to 10,000-feet, meaning cooler temps. However, the altitude may leave you breathless if you're unaccustomed to the thin air.
When I first began hiking in this region, I huffed and puffed like a three-pack-a-day smoker. The key to enjoying these hikes is to take your time and stay hydrated.
Cecret Lake [Secret Lake]
Located in the Albion Basin above the Alta Ski Area, the hike to Cecret Lake is short, family-friendly and lovely. During mid-June and August, this area explodes in wildflowers. The small alpine lake sits high above the ski area against a scenic backdrop of red rock. If you look closely, you'll spot tiger salamanders swimming in the lake with distinctive mane-like gills.
If you want a longer hike, extend your trek up toward Sugarloaf Peak.
1.6 Miles Round-Trip
Desolation Lake sits in a bowl scraped out by glaciers during the last ice age. At first glance, it looks more like a crater. The best views can be found by hiking up to the rim of the bowl for a view over the lake and of the neighboring peaks.
From the Mill D Trailhead, the first part of the 3.7-mile trek to the lake is steep in spots, but be assured that the last 1.8 miles level out and meander through aspens and pretty meadows.
7.4 Miles Round-Trip
One of the most popular hikes in the Wasatch for good reason, Lake Blanche rewards a steep hike with stellar views of the lake with Sundial Peak reflected in its waters. Also in view are Dromedary Peak and Superior Peak. Just out of sight beyond Lake Blanche are Lake Florence and Lake Lillian. Don't miss the opportunity to see these two lakes [like I did], which offer more privacy.
The trail follows a stream for about half the way and the views of the canyon en-route are stunning. This is a challenging hike; gaining 2,700 feet in three miles [one way] so take your time, wear good shoes and pack ample water.
6 Miles Round-Trip
Red Pine Lake
Both Red and White Pine Lake Trail are accessed from the same trailhead located in Little Cottonwood Canyon near Snowbird Ski Resort and Alta Ski Area.
The hike to Red Pine Lake is fairly easy at seven miles round-trip. About 1.5 miles in have your camera ready to capture unrestricted views of Little Cottonwood Canyon. Cradled in a rocky cirque, the pretty blue-green water of Red Pine Lake is typical of alpine lakes in the area. Pick one of many quiet spots along its shore to relax and have a picnic or take a nap. Find the best of these on the far right side of the lake nestled among the trees.
7 Miles Round-Trip
White Pine Lake
White Pine Lake is one of the highest alpine lakes in the Wasatch Range making it a great place to escape the summer heat. This trail follows an old roadbed meaning the grade is gentler than the route to Red Pine. However the price paid for this is a longer hike. Round-trip this is a 9-mile hike. The terrain is diverse, passing through meadows, a boulder field and traversing the ridge between Red Baldy and White Baldy. Also expect some sweeping mountain views along the way.
The lake is nestled in a bowl below the face of White Baldy surrounded by boulders, which make for welcoming lunch spots.
9 Miles Round-Trip
These five lake hikes near Salt Lake City are breathtaking and worth the effort to reach. So pack a lunch and get ready to enjoy the spectacular natural beauty of summer in the Wasatch.
Erika Wiggins is a Salt Lake City based freelance writer specializing in travel, food and adventure sports. She travels extensively throughout North America and Mexico seeking new experiences. In addition to adventure sports, her passions include fitness, local cuisines, strong coffee and wine. You can follow her on Twitter (@Active_Explorer) , Instagram (@Active_Explorer) and http://TheActiveExplorer.com