Red Pine Lake is an absolutely stunning lake located in Little Cottonwood Canyon. It was a bigger challenge than we are used but still manageable. It had some amazing views a loads of wildflowers to enjoy on the way up. Our friend Elise decided to join us on todays adventure.
Length: 3.6 miles to the lake. .8 around Total of 8 miles up around and back down.
Difficulty: DR5 very rocky and some long sections of up.
Elevation Gain: 2,299 ft
Pets: No. Little Cottonwood Canyon is Watershed.
Restroom: Yes. There is a pit toilet at the TH parking lot.
To get here drive 5.5 miles up Little Cottonwood Canyon. On the right side of the road there is a signed parking lot for the White Pine Trailhead. Yes this is the right place, Red and White share the trail for for first mile. If you hit Snowbird, you went too far.
At the trailhead. I am a little disappointed that we have some haze today from smoke from wildfires in other states blowing in to Utah. Luckily it didn’t affect all of the pictures today.
A little down the trail is the trailhead sign that says the lake is 3 miles away. My pedometer app put it at 3.6 from the parking lot above. I really doubt this sign is .6 miles from the parking lot, but I suppose between that and maybe a little backtracking might account for the extra mileage.
Little Cottonwood Creek.
The trail starts out on an old jeep access road so its fairly wide, packed, and easy going. It is also very pretty up here in the woods.
Before long you find yourself up quite a ways.
One of the many little side streams/springs you will pass.
Ok. There are some rocky parts, but this is nothing compared to what lies ahead.
After about a mile you come to a trail split. White Pine continues to follow the old jeep road, and Red Pine turns into a thinner hiker trail.
White Pine Fork.
Flowers grow in the craziest places.
The trail split.
Still wildflower season.
Crossing White Pine Fork.
Into the forest, and across some streams.
Wonderful pine forest through here.
And now we hit some aspens. It kind of goes back and forth all the way up.
As we climb the ridge we are rewarded with this fantastic view up canyon towards Snowbird.
Entering Lone Peak Wilderness.
Starting to get really thick!
Elise: “This isn’t too bad, a little work but not too challenging. Just what I was hoping for.”
Me: “Yea, not too bad at all. I’m sweating like a pig though.”
Elise: “Yea, so am I.”
Landis: “You know, pigs don’t sweat.”
Elise: “Alright Mr. Scientific.”
And after summiting the ridge, we are rewarded with this fantastic view down Little Cottonwood Canyon. The haze kills it a little, but it is really neat to see the U shape all the way down from here, caused by glacier activity. We saw something similar on the Temple Quarry Trail.
Unfortunately, with this amazing view comes a little bit of scary trail. I don’t do very good on thin trails on steep slopes, and this is a STEEP slope down. I doubt it is straight down, but it seemed that way. I think the worst of it was somewhere between a quarter and a half mile. It felt closer to a half mile, but in reality was probably closer to a quarter. I was just nervous and hoping to get through it. And I did, on both the way up and the way down. If I can do it, you can too.
After crossing the ridge we left White Pine Gulch and now are in Red Pine Gulch.
Starting to get pretty rocky.
A view of the ridge between Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons. Twin Peaks and Dromedary Peak to the left. You get a different, closer look at Twin Peaks on the Lake Blanch trail. They look very different from the other side.
Pretty purple flower.
First view of Red Pine Fork.
Trail split. Over the bridge goes into Maybird Gulch. Haven’t done that one yet, but it sounds nice. I didn’t take a reading on the pedometer app, but from here I would guess you still have about a mile to go.
Pretty little meadow.
Beautiful view above. I think we have hiked above the smoke at this point.
The stream is very pretty.
Random mound. I think this is a result of a mine, but when we investigated it more on the way down I didn’t find one.
The last section of trail is really rocky, and up! But pretty though the trees.
Taking a much needed break. We got a little excited as the pedometer app put us at 2.9 miles here so we thought we were a tenth of a mile away… we were close, but still had .7 of a mile left.
Up in the trees.
Fun jagged peaks above.
Elise pointed out that it looks like the trees are dripping down the mountain. I have to agree, it does!
I just love hiking through pine forests.
Hooray we have to be close now.
Wow! This is a beautiful lake! We found ourselves a nice boulder to sit on, take in the view, and have some snacks at about 9660 feet in elevation.
Nice clear water. Of course we decided to look for salamanders, but did not see any.
Quick panoramic, White Baldy in the center.
Wooded peninsula and I believe the Pfeifferhorn above it.
I love the color of the lake.
I know there is an Upper Red Pine Lake, but we all agreed we didn’t want to do anymore up. However, nobody objected to following me around the lake.
Another panoramic. This one includes White Baldy and The Pfeifferhorn.
Where the creek exits the lake.
View down the gulch. And wow, you can see all the way down the gulch and across the canyon to Twin Peaks and Dromedary Peak.
Flowers and the lake.
So, if I deduce this correctly, the dam was built in 1927.
The ridge between Red Pine and White Pine Gulches.
Now we just have to cross this scree.
Below The Ffeifferhorn.
Very faint solar halo.
Crossing the boulders.
The lake with Twin Peaks and Dromedary Peak in the background.
The creek. If you want to go to the upper lakes, there is a trail that goes up following this.
Flowers near the inlet.
Different shot of the lake, aforementioned peaks behind.
About 3/4 of the way around and almost to where we started.
Another panoramic. Little blown out from the sun, but got a good shore to shore shot.
Had a visit from a butterfly.
And a last parting shot. of the lake. Time to start heading back.
Ran across a deer.
Red Pine Fork.
Back to that incredible view down Little Cottonwood Canyon.
And the view up canyon towards Snowbird.
White Pine Fork.
The trail split. Todays adventure is about the longest I can currently handle, however, White Pine Lake is still on my list. Maybe next year.
And back to the 1st bridge crossing Little Cottonwood Creek.
And back to the parking lot which is a lot less full then when we arrived, but we are not the last ones on the trail.
Downtown through the haze. (Drive By Photo).
That was an incredible hike! It had just about everything! Rivers, springs, wildflowers, pine forests, aspens, amazing views, wildlife and a beautiful lake! The only thing missing would be a nice waterfall, but I can live with that. It was definitely a workout, but one that is absolutely worth the effort. Whith how popular it is, I did not expect a moment alone with the lake, but we even got that for a moment. I think it was a little less tough than Lake Blanche, but a little longer of a hike. And even with the short part that made me nervous, I think this is one I would do again, even if it is just to explore the other trails. 10 out of 10 squirrels.
As for difficulty, I am going with a DR5. The trail is pretty rocky, and there are definitely long segments of steep climbing. And the steep section.
Dogs are not allowed in Little Cottonwood Canyon due to it being watershed.