Cecret Lake (aka Secret Lake) is a beautiful small lake located at the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon. It is a very popular, crowded hike but It is amazing, and I am glad we finally tried again to check it out.
So what is the deal with the name? The USGS officially spells it with the S. While all maps and signage in the area use the C. I thought it might have been a misspelling, I have seen other examples of that, but from what I can ascertain the most popular theory is it was named after a local miner.
To get here, go approximate 9 miles up Little Cottonwood Canyon. There will be a little ranger gate before a small dirt road. You have 2 options at this point. You can continue 2 miles up the dirt road to the Cecret Lake Trailhead. However, the parking lot at the trailhead is very small so it fills up quickly on weekends and holidays. If the parking lot is full, there will be a sign informing you. Luckily, on the weekends and holidays they run a
free optional-donation-based shuttle service from here. It runs every 10-20 minutes until 5:30 PM.
The trail from the trailhead is about a mile to the lake. And then it is an additional 1 mile down, plus about 1.6 miles down the Upper Albion Basin Meadows Trail to where we parked for the shuttle so we thought that would be a great 4 (ish) mile hike. Take the shuttle up, and hike uphill 1 mile, then back down 3 miles. Get the most of the trails, with the least amount of work.
On the way out to the canyon I couldn’t help but notice how nice and green the mountains still are! We are mostly through July! (DBP Album)
While waiting for the shuttle I grabbed a couple shots of the top of the canyon here.
View down the canyon.
View from the shuttle. It is donation based so if you appreciate the ride, be sure to donate a couple bucks.It also saves some wear and tear on your car. :)
Now on to the hike!
Not very far up the trail we were greeted by a pair of moose.
Got a little rained on here, but it let up soon enough that were decided to continue up.
A river of bluebells.
Cute little stream.
I believe this is Devil’s Castle and East Castle.
Another little stream.
Some Indian paintbrush.
Another pretty side stream.
Pretty field with Devil’s Castle in the background.
I knew this trail was famous for the wildflowers, but I really had no idea there would be so many! It is beautiful.
Oh hey look, I have skies again.
I love these purple flowers. I wanna say Foxglove?
The trail up to this point has been a pretty easy, nice wide, flat path with not much climbing. But, after we round the corner that changes a little bit.
Oh look, there is a little waterfall over there. I wonder if the trail will go by it. (No, not really.)
Some signs of glacier movement.
Boulders and flowers.
And onto the switchbacks. As far as switchbacks go, they weren’t that steep. We passed a couple lamenting their decision to wear flip-flops because the trail was described as a cakewalk. It is pretty darn easy, but I wouldn’t say it is a cakewalk. Also, don’t ever go hiking in flip-flops. No matter how easy you think it will be. No traction, no protection, just don’t do it.
Random little cave.
Or, more likely a mine.
I took us up a little side trail hoping it would offer a closer view of the waterfall, and well, it didn’t.
This switchback was a little rougher.
And we made it! Wow, this is a pretty little lake.
Nice clear water.
I decided to climb this rock to get a better view.
Not too shabby up here.
View across the other side of the valley.
Flowers growing out of the rock.
Flowers near the lake.
This is a really lovely lake.
Well, even though it looked like the sky had come back, another storm was not too far behind. The thunder in this little valley sounded absolutely amazing!!! But, being out in the open during a thunder storm is not the safest place to be so we decided it was definitely time to start heading back. I am really glad we did.
I still like the way this one came out.
And then the rain started!
The lake and Devils Castle.
The view down the switchbacks. At this point the rain and thunder stopped, but we already decided to head down, so we continued. Again, I am glad we did.
The thunder didn’t seem to deter a group of rock climbers. They also kind of helped me find the waterfall I was after.
Well it’s not a terribly impressive waterfall, but I am glad I got to see it up close. It is pretty. Also, look, there is still snow up here!
Just a nice little waterfall.
Hillside of color.
More of the purple flowers.
Fun cracked rock.
Some wildflowers viewed from the rock.
I may have gone a little crazy with the wildflowers today.
About here we started getting rained on again, it lasted a little longer, but did eventually die down.
Pretty creek next to a ski lift.
Apparently, part of the trail is also a private dirt road, so watch out for cars.
We stopped at the trail head to use the restrooms. Even though it had been raining on and off, we decided to continue our original plan of hiking the 1.6 mile Upper Albion Meadows Trail down to where we parked.
Lovely stream to follow in the beginning here.
Boardwalk through the forest, I guess this section is kind of swampy.
Even smaller cascades. This kind of reminds me of Oregon, just so green and lush.
Random bench in a meadow.
Ski lift through the forest. I am pretty sure this is the same ski lift we saw above, the map seems to confirm that.
Different shades of Indian Paint Brush.
There is a restaurant up here. I am thinking this might be ski season only, as it didn’t appear to be open.
After here there were two parallel trails, being me, I decided to take the lower, less travelled looking one.
Pretty mountain peak.
Some nice wildflowers.
A thin waterfall in the distance. I wonder if any of the other trails go by it.
Random machine of some sort. Not sure what it is really.
Mound of sand. I think this is a sign of a mining.
Loads and loads of flowers!
They go all the way up the sides of the hills.
The parallel trails started diverging quite a bit. I wondered if we should take a side trail to connect to the other one, but we stayed here. They do eventually join again, but I think the upper trail has a more gradual slope, than this one does.
We also started to really hear thunder about now. Again, out on the top of a mountain is not where I want to be during a lightning storm so we quickened our pace quite a bit.
Here you can see where they connect. The other trail is obviously the more beaten path, and we still have to go downhill.
And back to the main trail. I think it was about here that we really started getting rained on, and the thunder really picked up. Alright, double timing it now.
Some more Indian paint brush.
View down the canyon.
Through a rainy windshield. (DBP)
Of course the rain stopped again when we were about halfway down the canyon, but that’s okay. We had an amazing time on this little hike, and really enjoyed all of the sights, smells, and flowers! I really cannot believe all of the flowers!
This trail has a gorgeous lake, a small waterfall, beautiful green forests, meadows covered in flowers, signs of glacier activity, wildlife and stunning mountain peaks surrounding you. This hike truly has it all. Even with the crowds, which honestly weren’t that bad, but the rain may have had something to do with that, it is truly an exceptional hike. If you have an open weekday, do it then, or come on the weekend and take the shuttle. Final rating: 10 out 10 squirrels. I enjoyed it enough that I was able to overlook the crowds.
For difficulty: As I mentioned you have several options for the trail. Take the shuttle up and down, and do an easy 1 mile up. Park below, and hike 1.6 + 1 mile up, and return the same for a 5.2 mile trip. Or split the difference, take the shuttle up, hike 1 mile up, and 2.6 miles down for an easier, but longer experience. We did the last option, and it was pretty easy, I would even venture to say family friendly. (although if you have really little ones maybe opt for the shortest option) I would probably rank all 3 options a DR3.
Little Cottonwood Canyon is watershed so dogs are not welcome.