Willow Heights is a beautiful trail through an aspen forest that leads to a fairly pretty, high alpine lake located in Big Cottonwood canyon. You have a really good chance of seeing wildlife along this short trail. We’ve done it a few times before but we got a later start today so I wanted something a little shorter, plus I thought the fall colors might be good here today.
Family of moose near the lake
Length: .75 Miles to the lake
Difficulty: DR4 It’s short, but pretty steep and rocky.
Elevation Gain: 600 Ft.
Restroom: No. Closest one I am aware of is at the top of the canyon near Silver Lake.
Dogs? No. Big Cottonwood Canyon is watershed.
Fall colors on the mountain (DBP).
And in the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon (DBP).
The higher you go the better they look (DBP).
Near the top of the canyon.
The little stone monument. I explained this before, but basically the land went up for sale and was zoned for development. In 2001 Salt Lake City managed to collect the funds to buy it to leave it as a natural open space. This might explain the unusual neighborhood sounding name. I am super glad they saved this area as it is beautiful.
Not too far in you reach this particularly steep segment. It’s not too long, but it’s kind of rough.
A hint of the peaks across the canyon.
Bright yellow leaves.
Aspens as far as the eye can see.
With the mountains across the canyon.
And getting into the thick woods.
I really like this trail!
Don’t forget to look up!
And getting really thick into the trees.
I spotted this big girl. I know she is female as male moose do not shed their antlers until late fall/early winter. Usually around mid December.
She seemed far enough away from the trail that I thought we could continue. Unfortunately, she started walking towards us as we did, so we had to kind of hustle and hope she wasn’t giving chase. Luckily she did not chase after us.
A liiiiitle bit close for comfort.
We watched her for a little while, hoping she would come out of the trees eventually until she started staring at me like this. I decided to take that as a warning and decided to let her be.
I take the same warning I saw at Antelope Island regarding bison. Basically if a bison, or any wild animal stops doing it’s wild animal things to stare at you, you are too close.
Back to the stunning woods.
Alright, alright, we’re going, we’re going!
I really love this band of aspens along the trail. To think they wanted to tear all this down.
When you start seeing the pine trees you know you are getting close.
Getting really close. I can almost see the clearing.
When you reach the clearing, you are almost there.
Some great color up here!
More fall color.
Looking back down.
And we have reached the lake! This is the most mirror like we have seen it. Stunning!
We decided to walk around a bit.
Very pretty up here right now.
Oh look, we found another moose. And I think I see the ears of a youngin with her.
Amazing color above.
Momma moose again.
The lake is incredible right now.
The mountains above.
The lake and peaks behind. I think that is the back side of Devils Castle on the right there. You see the other side of that along the Cecret Lake trail.
The trail back behind the lake. This continues towards Dry Lake or goes around in the woods behind the lake.
The main trail goes a little ways further behind the lake, but I seemed to recall one of the times we did this trail we popped out of here one day.. however, as will be revealed shortly I think we followed a deer trail into the thick overgrowth.
With the hills above.
Definitely starting to lose light.
But, not completely.
Not the best shot, but a deer jumped out of the thick overgrowth and kind of startled us.
Followed by another one.
The hills above again.
I was hoping to get around the other side of the lake to maybe see the moose better, but these random deer trails put us a liiiitle bit closer to the family than I had hoped. I grabbed a quick couple shots and continued along we were still a good distance away, definitely further than the images make it look. She has two calves!
Amazing color and peaks!
Weird twisted aspens.
Back to the front of the lake. I tend to refer ‘the front’ as the point where the trail first shows the lake. This is the south end, looking north ish.
Really pretty up here.
Well we had our fun it was time to head on back.
Another canyon I need to explore.
Trees and peaks.
Back into the aspens.
I really do love wondering around the aspen forest.
Oh, look who didn’t wander far. I can’t say for sure this is the same moose we saw on the way up, but I am fairly sure it is.
I really didn’t want to pass by her again, but it was getting dark. She eventually moved a few feet further from the trail and we quickly, and quietly slipped by.
Back to the pretty trees.
The peaks across the canyon are looking pretty colorful as well.
Nice patches of color.
And back down to the road.
This trail in incredible anytime of the year, but I think this was my favorite trip. The colors were fantastic, the lake was calm and mirror like, and of course all of the wildlife today! 4 moose on one trail, that is certainly a new record for us! Even with all the people it was still a wonderful adventure today and I am glad that one thing lead to another, leading us to return here today instead of somewhere else. 10 out of 10 squirrels today.
As for difficulty, there are certainly some steep rough, rocky sections but it is fairly short and levels out eventually. Going with a DR4.
Dogs are not allowed as Big Cottonwood Canyon is watershed.