Sunday, August 13, 2017

Devil’s Castle Loop

The Devil’s Castle Loop above Alta is a great loop trail that offers incredible views of the Albion Basin, Devils Castle, and more. The wildflowers are absolutely incredible and the forest is quiet and stunning. This trail offers a nice reprieve from the crowds along the Cecret Lake trail, which, even though it is crowded it is still one of my favorites, so if you have time, check it out as well. This wasn’t what we had planned today, but I am super happy it is where we ended up.

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Quick Details:

Length: 1.8 Mile loop
Difficulty: DR3. It was pretty easy.
Elevation Gain: 460 Feet
Restroom: There is a pit toilette at the trailhead.
Dogs? No. Little Cottonwood Canyon is watershed.

To Get Here:

Head all the way to the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon until the pavement ends. From here you have 3 options. You can drive up the dirt road and hope you get a spot in the small parking lot. You can take the donation based shuttle that goes every 20 minutes 9 - 5:30 on weekends. Lastly, you can add 1.5 miles and hike the Upper Albion Meadows Trail. We opted to take the shuttle up, and hike down the meadows trail.

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View down Little Cottonwood Canyon while we wait for the shuttle.

The Trail:

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And about 15 minutes later we are at the trailhead. We decided to go counter-clockwise and start towards Cecret Lake.

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Couple of sparrows.

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It is so pretty up here.

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The wildflowers are just incredible up here.

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Devil’s Castle. This trail offers some incredible views of it.

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The trail we took was to the left of Little Cottonwood Creek. I’m not sure if it is the right trail, or if we took a wrong fork somewhere because we got a smidge bit off trail. Next time we come up here, I am going to start in the campground and go clockwise so I can see where it comes out.

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Heading towards the castle. This trail is a little more thin than the Cecret Lake Trail.

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It is really pretty up here.

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Wildflowers forever.

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Indian Paintbrush.

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More wildflowers.

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Fun little family tree.

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More flowers.

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Little Cottonwood Creek is so tiny up here. Just beyond this is another spot I think might have been where we lost the main trail for a minute. There was a split, and I took the one that did not cross the creek.

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Giant mushroom.

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Super pretty.

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Pretty butterfly. The pattern kind of looks like it says 1810.

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Just more pretty forest.

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And here is the last place I might have gotten us off the main trail. There was a 4 way intersection here, with this trail going up, and a stronger trail going left and right. Normally I would take the stronger trail, but I knew this trail should take us to the base of Devils Castle and neither other trail seemed right. Sigh. Like I said, I will have to return and go the other direction.

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At the top of the hill you are rewarded with another great view of Devils Castle. Unfortunately, it also appeared this was the end of the trail.

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Luckily I spotted a thin trail just a little further ahead, so we carefully made our way to it. I normally wouldn’t do that, but it was only about 15 feet out.

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Flowers and boulders.

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Even though we do not appear to be on the main trail, I am having a good time. And, I see the main trail above. Just need to connect to it.

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Marmot!

There were also a bunch of pika’s that we could here. I’m sure if we had hung around long enough we would have seen one, but we kept moving.

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This is a really neat scree field.

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Looking back down.

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The closer we get to Devils Castle, the more the name makes sense.

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Looks like a mine dump.

The trail is kind of faint, but it did appear to lead to the main trail.

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The castle again.

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Looking down into the Albion Basin.

Oh, I took a 3D 360 Panoramic here. (Google cardboard needed).

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View with some flowers.

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Nearing mid August and there is still quite a bit of snow up here.

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Great view of the Albion Basin from up here.

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And loads of wildflowers up here as well.

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Looking back at Devils Castle.

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More wildflowers.

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This trail is incredible. I think that is Mount Wolverine across the way there.

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A bunch of snow under the castle.

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I love wildflower season.

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Super pretty.

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Leaving the castle behind. I have always liked this peak, which if you are a regular, you probably could tell, so it was really cool to get up close to it.

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Cecret Lake Should be on the other side of those trees under Sugarloaf Peak.

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Pretty forest.

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More wildflowers.

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Eventually we hit the dirt road that leads us past some cabins and eventually down into Albion Basin Campground If you are coming up from the other direction, a little ways past the last cabins, look for this small trail split on the right. The trail marker is not labelled, but it shows where the trail is.

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Devils Castle through the trees.

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Little stream.

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Wildflowers.

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The dirt road. Makes for easy hiking.

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Almost down to the campground.

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For those hiking this way, here is the front of the gate. It is on the NW corner of the campground.

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And the trail sign is just to the right of it.

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Wildflowers and Sugarloaf Peak above.

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Fireweed.

I didn’t want to intrude on anybody’s privacy so I didn’t get any shots of the campground, but it does look lovely. One of these days we’ll get up here to camp. There are still a couple trails left for us to explore.

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Nice stream running through it.

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Another look at Devils Castle.

I am not sure if the loops milrage shown in the little pamphlet includes the dirt road, and the campground. But I came out with about 1.6 miles versus their 1.8 miles. So if they do include the road, then our little detour only shaved off about .2 miles. If it doesn’t then we skipped a little bit more. I will see when we do this one again.

Now we will do the additional 1.5 miles down the Upper Albion Meadows trail to get back to our car.

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Currently, there is a section of the trail that is closed for construction, so short detour along the road. Unfortunately, this is the section we usually see moose in, but oh well.

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The meadows are always pretty.

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I was taking this picture for the elkweed, but it also shows just how small, and crowded the Trailhead Parking is.

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Fireweed.

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Wildflowers and Sugarloaf Peak.

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Devils Castle and Sugarloaf Peak.

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The Albion Meadows are just exploding with wildflowers right now. I am pretty sure this is the most I have ever seen!

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Flowers and a peak. You can get a better view of that peak on the Collins Gulch Trail.

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The overabundance of wildflowers have brought more hummingbirds than I have ever seen. Holy crap they are just everywhere!

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Wildflowers galore!

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Another little hummingbird. They don’t get very close usually.

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Looking down into the canyon.

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Back to the flowers.

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Another shot of Devils Castle.

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Love all the color.

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Flowers and peaks.

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Looking down canyon again.

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I just cant get over how many flowers there are.

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More flowers and a hummingbird.

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I love the crimson Indian paintbrush.

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More flowers.

And with that, my camera battery died. But, that is okay, we were almost done, and what I was going to do aside from get more pictures of flowers?

All in all I loved this trail! The mountains were majestic, the flowers were incredible, the forests serene plus hardly another soul on the trail. Definitely worth doing in lieu of Cecret Lake some time. I want to give it a perfect 10, but am taking one due to the lake of signage and confusing trails. In fact we tried to do this one once before but couldn’t find the side trail. I would really have liked to have done the full loop. But I am happy with what we did do.

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As for difficulty, it’s pretty easy a little bit of up, but not too bad. Going with a DR3.

Dogs are not allowed as Little Cottonwood Canyon is watershed.

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