Sunday, August 21, 2016

Cecret Lake

Cecret Lake is a not so secret lake hidden at the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon. It is a really easy to access, beautiful emerald green lake surrounded by stunning mountain peaks. And, even though it is usually pretty crowded, it is still one of my favorite hikes.

We’ve done this one a couple of times already, but like I said, it is one of my favorites.

Cecret Lake

Quick Details:

Length: .75 M one way 1.5 round trip. And if you decide to walk around it, that will add about a half mile.
Difficulty: DR3. Mostly fairly easy, but those last switchbacks are a bit of a workout.
Elevation Gain: 420 ft.
Restroom: There is a pit toilette at the trailhead.
Dogs? No. This is watershed.

To get here drive to the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon. If the lot full sign is not out, continue up the dirt road to the trail head. If it is park down at the Albion Base. You can either wait for the donation based shuttle service (weekends, shuttle runs about every 20 minutes until 5:30 PM). Or, you can hike the Albion Meadows trail up and at 1.5 miles (one way). Which I think is my favorite way to do it.


Since we came up from the Albion meadows trail, it seemed to make more sense to follow this little connector trail up to the main trail, rather than backtrack a bit.


This put us down in an open meadow.


Before long we were on the main trail. Which is also a dirt access road to some private cabins. So, watch out for the random car.


Lovely forest.


Devils Castle is a particularly pretty peak.


The first little stream has dried up.


The wildflower season has definitely peaked, however there are still a lot up here.


The 2nd stream is still flowing pretty good. I think this might be the main one.


The road splits into the 2 roads, and the trail continues to the left.


Devils Castle. There is still some snow up there.

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Image from last years adventure. But this is what is looks like at the height of wildflower season.


Tree tops and mountain tops.


Some of the stones have signs of glacier movement.


Forest below Devils Castle.


Sugarloaf Peak.


And on to the final leg, the switchbacks. Which also kind of show just how popular the trail is.


Mine shaft.


Looking down the canyon.


Looking up the 2nd switchback.


Looking down into the Albion Basin.


The 3rd switchback.


Devils Castle again.

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And we made it to the lake! With Sugarloaf Peak in the background.

Cecret Lake

Quick panoramic.

Since we have beautiful blue skies for once, we decided to try walking around the lake again. Last time we tried that we got rained out. We also went counterclockwise that time so we decided to go clockwise today.


I enjoy watching the salamanders swim around as well.


I love this lake.


Oh, there is an old dam up here. I guess they don’t use it anymore? Or maybe it is late enough in the year they let the water go down. Not sure.


More views of the lake.


Surrounding cliffs.


One of these days I’m going to hike up that lower peak, maybe even up Sugarloaf.

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More salamanders. This lake is practically teeming with them.

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Coming up for air.

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These pretty birds are fairly unafraid of humans. Caught this one getting a drink.


Some spots of the trail around the lake are a little harder to traverse, but doable.


Beautiful lake!

You know, it looks a lot like the Hanging Valleys you see on the nearby Collins Gulch trail, or even the famous Hanging Lake in Colorado. (Though honestly, not as hanging, nor as spectacular!)


Entering a couple scree fields.

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Another panoramic.


Scree below the cliffs above. Sugarloaf Peak above to the left.

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We watched this guy scamper up the hill side, took me a minute before I realized it was a marmot.

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Better shot.



A cute little pika hopping about.


I think these guys are super cute, and really fun to watch. They really seem to like scree areas. So, the next time you walk through a high elevation scree field, listen for their chirp(sounds kind of like a cross between a chipmunk and a bird). Maybe stop for a break and see if you can spot them.


No time to rest. These guys a super, super fast and don’t stay still for very long.



I have never seen so many in one spot before now. Let alone got a decent picture of one. I even had one run right next to my foot and just hang out there for a minute. Unfortunately I had the telephoto lens in and couldn’t get that close of a shot.


This guy appears to be enjoying a view of the lake.


Oh, hey that marmot hasn’t gone too far.

I was really enjoying watching the pikas run around and work and play. They really are fun to watch! But, it was time to get going.


Around the backside of the lake now. Wind must have stopped as it is much more glass like.

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Another panoramic.


More salamanders!


I think I am more central back side now.

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Another marmot.

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More salamanders.


Trees and cliffs. I think that is Devils Castle back there.


This lake is just incredible! So much scenery.

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Another panoramic. I think I like this one best.


Yep, that is definitely Devils Castle back there.

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With more lake.

About here we stumbled upon a family with a bunch of kids wading in the lake. I try not to be a confrontational guy, but, this is our drinking water! I figured the least confrontational way to handle it was just by saying: “Just a heads up, if a ranger should happen by, he will issue you a heavy citation for being in the water.” I still felt like a jerk for ruining the fun, but it seemed to get the message through while coming across as helpful. I hope, anyway. But still, there are signs everywhere including right in front of the lake! How could you miss it?

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Nearing the front of the lake again.

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And we can see Sugarloaf Peak again.


See, signed!


Back to the view of the Albion Basin.


Fun color in the rocks.


There is a short little trail out to this small waterfall.

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Glacier scrapes.


Albion Peaks (2)

Tried to get all the peaks pictured in the sign. Not quite the same angle, but still neat.

Patsy Marley, Mt Wolverine, Tuscarora, Catherine Pass (is the low point between) then Point Supreme, East Castle, Devils Castle, and Sugarloaf.


I really like Devils Castle. It is an interesting peak.


Flowers by the creek.


There is a short little trail out to this flat rock.


Which has a nice view.


Even though most of the wildflowers are gone, it is still a super beautiful trail.


One of the ski lifts you will pass under.

After this we continued down the Upper Albion Meadows Trail.

As always, Cecret Lake did not disappoint! Even with a lot of people up there it was still incredible, and we saw so much wildlife! (Including 2 moose on the way down from here). at 1.5 miles round trip (2 if you decide to go around the lake) it is certainly worth the experience! 10 out 10 squirrels.

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As for difficulty, this one is mostly a mild climb, until the very last I’d say, quarter mile its gets a bit steeper, but not too bad. DR3.

As for dogs? Little Cottonwood Canyon is watershed, so they are not allowed.

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