The Lake Mary/Catherine Pass trail passes by Lakes Mary, Martha and Catherine with the option of a short side trek out to Dog Lake which are 4 of the 7 beautiful Brighton Lakes situated around Brighton Ski Resort. You can actually do them all in one long loop, but we haven’t done that yet. At about 4 miles round trip this is a beautiful hike to do, and a good one to do on a hot summer day.
Length: The map says 1 mile to Lake Mary and 2 miles to Lake Catherine. My app put it at 1.15 and 2.25 respectively.
Difficulty: DR4 there is a bit of elevation gain.
Elevation Gain: 760 feet to Lake Mary and 1200 to Lake Catherine.
Restroom: Closest one I am aware of is at the Solitude Nordic Center.
Dogs? No. Big Cottonwood Canyon is watershed.
Other Info: Lots of bugs this time of year. Remember the bug spray.
To Get Here:
Drive as far as you can up Big Cottonwood Canyon (BCC) you will hit the one way Brighton loop. Pass the Solitude Nordic Center, at the back end of the loop you will see a large parking lot for Brighton Ski Resort. The trailhead is just to the right of the main building.
Looking up at Mount Millicent from the parking lot.
For the first half mile or so you will be hiking under the ski lifts. I’m not sure if I have gotten used to doing that by now, or what but I hardly notice them anymore. Also, as you can see this is a very popular trail!
Elkweed. I just learned these only flower once in their 20 - 80 year lifetime.
Lupine and one of the many sun flower like variants.
I always go a little crazy with pictures during wildflower season.
Don’t forget to turn around and enjoy the view once in a while.
Not too far up, I’d say a quarter mile or so, you will come across the big boulder.
And then the trail flattens out for just a minute. It is a nice break from the tough UP the first quarter mile offers.
Iron rich spring.
And then we start going up again.
Before long you start getting a great view of Brighton and Silver Lake.
At about halfway, you reach the stream coming out of Dog Lake. The side trail to Dog Lake is just before this. It’s only about 500 feet out. So, even though the lake is small, it’s a nice side adventure. However we opted to not do that today.
I like this old dead tree.
You get a couple glimpses of the stream.
And before long you will see the dam this means you are almost to Lake Mary.
Lots of water coming down the trail. I don’t remember that being here before.
Lots of water.
And we made it! Whoa! it’s full again! Last time we were here they were working on the dam and the lake was almost empty. I have walked around about 50 feet out there.
Mt Tuscarora and Mt Millicent.
Now vs 2 years ago. Lower image from our 2015 trip up here.
Oh this is better:
It’s even deeper than before. You can’t even see the rocks anymore!
Lake Mary appears to be the main destination for most people, and it is very crowded. Lots of people breaking the watershed rules too. Grumble grumble Side note, this is our drinking water if it says no swimming, please follow that rule. Anyway, we decided to continue along the trail.
The back end of the lake with Mount Tuscarora.
Chipmunk enjoying a snack with a view.
Nearing the back end of the lake..
More dead trees.
And then we enter the beautiful forest. Definitely less people beyond Lake Mary. Jokes on them, Martha and Catherine are just as beautiful!
This section of the trail reminds me of the area above Ruth Lake in the Uinta’s!
One last look at the lake from the east end of it.
Snow! In July! Considering how hot it has been (seriously near or over 100 for several weeks now) this is kind of surprising to see. Then again, we did have a pretty epic winter.
Not far from the end of Lake Mary you will come across Lake Martha. My app put it at about 1.5 miles from the trail head.
It is the smallest of the three lakes, but it is pretty in its own way. I like the little wooded island.
With Mount Tuscarora.
The full lake. We decided not to go out to it this time and instead continued up to Lake Catherine.
After Martha the trail gets a little steep again. It’s not the worst we’ve done, but it is certainly up.
Beautiful woods to hike through though.
Before long you get a nice aerial view of Lake Martha.
And then Lake Mary.
When you reach the top of the ridge you get a fantastic view of the canyon below.
You can even see Dog Lake from up here.
I think Guardsman Pass is there to the right.
Back into the woods.
Another great view of Lake Martha.
And both Lake Martha and Lake Mary as well. You can see just how close to each other they are.
Little higher up and you can see Mary better.
Quite a bit better.
When you reach this trail split you are almost there! The signs are not particularly helpful in finding the lake and last time we were here we went the wrong way. Anyway, Lake Catherine is to the left. Catherine Pass is to the right. You can do both, as the trail to the lake continues back to the pass trail.
Nice little stream.
And the stream coming out of Lake Mary. Plus, lots of snow to play in. We had a quick snowball fight.
So this is rather interesting. Both of those streams are flowing into that little pond. And then it just… seeps back into the ground. It comes back out a little below. We’ll come back to this, but I think it is kind of cool.
First glimpse of Lake Catherine.
And we made it! Phew! The trail sign put it at 2 miles, my app put it at 2.25. Not a huge discrepancy, but yea.
Nice clear water.
It is so beautiful up here.
This looks like what comes out of a mine, but I was not able to locate one.
Mount Tuscarora reflecting on the lake.
Playing with the pretty columbines.
Another elkweed. I think these are super pretty when they flower.
After relaxing and exploring for a bit we decided it was time to turn back. I wanted to push on to the pass since it is only another quarter mile, but we’ll have to do that next time.
Back down to the sink pond.
Holy crap! there are quite a few fish in it! We thought that maybe they worked their way down the stream from Lake Catherine. Or possibly a nearby fisherman was holding them here until later.
The stream melting through the large snow banks
The other stream and Mount Tuscarora.
I noticed a little side trail which led to this view of Lake Martha. It’s a great view, but the trail offers a few better ones.
We watched as this cute little guy crossed the trail and scurried off. I am pretty sure it was a marmot.
Another view of Lake Martha and Lake Mary.
I’m pretty sure this is where the water from that little pond comes back out.
Pretty shade of indian paint brush.
Back down to the ridge above Dog Lake.
Approaching Lake Martha.
Back down to Martha.
Oh I took a 3D Panoramic here. (Requires Google Cardboard app and 3D goggles).
And back down to Lake Mary.
I like the color of this one.
So pretty up here.
One last shot of the lake.
And back down to the wildflower covered meadows.
The big boulder.
Couple more wildflower shots.
Just surrounding the trail.
Nice little mix.
Lots of chipmunks.
And a neat shot of the canyon coming down (DBP). Unfortunately there is a fire not far so it is a bit smoky.
I absolutely love this trail. 3 beautiful lakes, beautiful woods. mountain peaks and even wildflowers. It’s absolutely gorgeous. After you pass Lake Mary the crowds thin drastically which makes it even more enjoyable. 10 out 10 squirrels today.
Don’t forget you can add a short trek out to Dog Lake
As for difficulty, There is certainly a bit of a climb, but we have definitely seen worse. There aren’t really any scary spots at all either. DR4.
Dogs are not allowed due to Big Cottonwood Canyon being watershed.