Sunday, June 10, 2018

Lake Solitude - Summer

Lake Solitude is a beautiful lake located above Solitude Ski Resort. It seems like there might be a few ways to access this lake, but the way I like to go starts at Silver Lake. The trail is pretty short at about 3 miles round trip and is pretty mild for elevation gain as well. We have done this one before, but we were camping with friends, and I thought we might have some company so I thought this would be a good idea. Plus, we tend to this one in the fall, and always seem to hit it on a gloomy day, so it was nice to do it on a pretty sunny day.

Quick Details:

Length: about 3 miles round trip including about a half mile along the Silver Lake boardwalk (out and back).
Difficulty: DR3 Pretty easy.
Elevation Gain: About 550 Feet.
Restroom: Yes, there are flush toilets in the Visitor Center and outside as well.
Dogs? No. Big Cottonwood Canyon is watershed.
Other Info:2 things. Right now they appear to be building a new lift? road? and there is a section of trail that is a little confusing right now. 2. The trail has been re-routed near the end and now bypasses the previous awful steep scramble at the end. It threw me off for a minute, but it is definitely an improvement.

To Get Here:

Head up Big Cottonwood Canyon. Drive all the way to the top of the canyon, past Solitude till you hit the one way loop road. Park at the Solitude Nordic Center. If you pass Brighton, you went too far. However, the road loops around pretty quickly so, not the end of the world.

You can go either way you want around Silver Lake, but if you go right, it will get you to the trailhead quicker. left will add a little bit of mileage.

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Driving past where we camped at Jordan Pines (DBP) it is hidden in the trees there below Reed and Benson ridge (left) and Kessler Peak (right).

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Heading up canyon (DBP).

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Mount Millicent. I always tend to hop out of the car and immediately get a shot of this peak. It’s pretty.

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Silver Lake is officially the Disneyland of the Salt Lake Valley. It has gotten increasingly crowded over the last few years. Luckily, most of the crowds stay at Silver Lake, and not many wander up above.

The Trail:

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Oddly enough, Silver Lake doesn’t appear to be terribly crowded at the moment.

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First glimpse of the lake, and the un-named peak above it.

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Looking at the outlet. The beginning of Big Cottonwood Creek.

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Silver Lake and the outlet.

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Chipmunk!

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Silver Lake under Mount Millicent.

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So pretty up here.

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At about a quarter to 3/10 of a mile you will come to the Twin lakes/Lake Solitude trailhead. We did Twin Lakes last tie we were up here.

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Nice mix of aspens and conifers on this trail.

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Before long (less than a 10th of a mile I think) you will come to a 4 way split. Left will take you to Twin lakes, Forward to Lake Solitude, and Right is closed for vegetation.

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It is also pretty clearly marked.

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Now we start the uphill climb! It is actually quite a bit easier than the Twin Lakes climb, even if it is just a smidge longer.

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Aspens.

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Forget me nots.

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Larkspur.

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Pretty forest.

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Construction area. Not sure if this just a new service road, or maybe a new ski run, or lift. But it was a little discombobulating for a moment. In hind site it seems more obvious, just cross the scar. Do not follow the scar.

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And apparently, that tube lines the path. It’s pretty obvious now, but yeah, it really threw me off for a second.

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Looking across the scar.

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There are a couple trail splits towards some old pathways. Pretty much all of the splits you will veer forward or slightly left. Also, old trails that are closed for re-vegetation will usually have logs lining the front of them, if they aren’t signed anyway.

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And most of the splits are signed as well.

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Lots of bluebells along the trail.

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I think this is goosefoot violet.

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Not sure what this one is.

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The only part of the trail I don’t like is this short segment under the Sunrise Lift. It’s really not that steep but I just struggle with thin trails along steep slopes. I have made it through much worse though.

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Not sure what this one is either.

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The disc golf course. there is a 4 way trail split here, take the forward trail. There is also a sign if you aren’t sure.

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Back into the thicker woods.

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The wood peckers seem to be fond of whatever is in this particular tree.

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Next trail split. I thought we should go right but there was a log across it, so we went forward. This confused me at first but I eventually figured it out. The trail I was familiar with is to the right. The new trail is forward. It is most certainly an improvement.

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More pretty forest.

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My first sign we might not be on the same trail was this little scree field. But, I continued.

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Hind site being 20/20 this does look recently carved.

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The peaks above.

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Still a smidge of snow left up here.

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Thick grove of trees.

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Okay, this is where my brain started freaking out a little. i really did not recognize this big scree field. However, as good as my trail memory is, it’s not perfect. So, we continued along. Again, new trail segment, but I still didn’t know it.

It was a little after this where I finally realized we were almost to the lake, and we didn’t have that awful, awful, steep hill scramble.

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Almost to the lake.

So, the new segment from the trail split it looks like the tougher choice, but it is honestly so much better. You gain the same elevation either way. The original path was flat for a while, and then gained the last 100-150 feet very quickly. The new route is a much more gradual, but consistent climb.

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Almost exactly 1.5 miles late we made it to Lake Solitude. It sure is a pretty lake.

Lake Solitude 2

Panoramic.

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Clouds cruising over the peak above.

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I love the little island.

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Mine tailings.

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And the mine.

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This picture kind of perfectly demonstrates why entering old mines can be somewhat dangerous. You never know if it might collapse.

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Here you can make out how deep it is. Maybe 20 feet or so.

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Back to the lake.

We are still a little tuckered and sore from camping all weekend so we didn’t circumnavigate the lake today, we did that last time we were here though. It doesn’t take long.

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Panoramic again.

As you can see, across the lake a trail continues up over the pass there on the left. I haven’t done that yet, but think I might try to bump that off my list this year. It doesn’t look very rough, at least not from this side. Almost looks easier than Catherine Pass.

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Another shot of the lake.

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Wallflower.

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Huh, don’t recall seeing this up here before. Not sure what it is the remains of.

Well we relaxed and enjoyed the lake with some nice sunshine for a while, but decided it was time to head on back.

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Last parting shot.

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That is the old trail we were used to. I didn’t see what the sign said, but I imagine ‘trail closed’.

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Back into the woods!

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The large scree field.

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Different bands of trees.

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Pretty sure these are lodgepole pines. I was a little surprised a few years ago to learn we have them here in Utah. I learned of them in Yellowstone.

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Looking up.

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The pile of snow again.

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The original trail below.

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Trail split. The middle fork will get you back. I suspect the right fork will too, but don’t know for sure.

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Building on that peak. Probably a ski lift.

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The forest.

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Back to the sunrise lift.

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This tree is bizarre.

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More bluebells.

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More forest.

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Forget me nots.

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Back to the construction scar.

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Entering a large band of aspens.

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I love aspen forests.

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Back to the first trail split. Forward will take us back to Silver Lake. Right will take you up to Twin Lakes if you still have energy.

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Back to Silver Lake. Now it is about as busy as I expect it to be this time of year.

Normally when we do either of these trails back here we take the opportunity to continue around Silver Lake. Even though it is usually busy, it’s still really pretty and I enjoy it, but again, still a little tired from camping so we decided to go back the shorter way we came in.

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Duckies.

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Mount Millicent above Silver Lake.

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Some nice reflection near the outlet.

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The boardwalk is warping a little bit here.

We decided to pop into the visitor center.

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There were 4 moose sightings on the trail we did today just 2 days ago. Drat.

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We stopped by Brighton for a moment. this is the Lake Mary/Lake Catherine Trailhead. A little longer, but super pretty as well.

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Busy canyon today! (DBP).

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Storm Mountain area (DBP).

Well, even though we were a little stiff and tuckered from camping this was still a great trail. I was really happy to finally see that lake on a nice sunny day. And the trail re-route, while it threw me off at first, it is seriously such an improvement! That last climb on the older route kind of sucked, especially if there was any snow on it, so the gradual climb is awesome. Today was a much cooler day than the rest of the weekend so I don’t know how much I would enjoy on a really hot day, but there is some shade. Lastly, the huge crowds you see at Silver Lake do not continue to the upper trails. We only saw a few small groups on the way up and down today. Going with 9 out 10 squirrels.

9 Squirrels

As for difficulty, going with a DR3. It is a slow gradual climb, there are a few rocky parts as well but with the improvements it’s not a bad climb.

Big Cottonwood Canyon is watershed, so dogs are not allowed up here.

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