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Utah's Wasatch Hiking Trails

Red Pine Lake
Red Pine Lake
Red Pine Lake
Photo Gallery
Red Pine Lake Hike (to lower lake)
  • Length: 6.8 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 1940 ft
  • Highest Elevation: 9,640 ft
  • Trailhead: 5.5 miles up Little Cottonwood Canyon, just below Snowbird, signed "White Pine Trailhead"
Though it had been a few years since I'd been on this trail, I have hiked it many times. A few years back when I was running trails, I remember this one as one of my favorites. So, with that in mind, I decided to hike to Red Pine Lake with a full arsenal of camera gear. Heck, if it was a favorite for running, it must be a pretty moderate hike, so a few pounds of camera gear shouldn't be a problem, right?.

Statistics about this hike, taken from the Wasatch Mountain Club's Hike Ratings indicate that this hike is a moderately strenuous one in a Wilderness area (which means that groups are limited to 14). It is a 6.8 mile round trip journey with an elevation gain of 1940 to a maximum elevation of 9,640 ft.

OK, cool. I can do that! (But if you want to take this trail, but do a shorter hike, you can just stop at the Salt Lake Overlook.)

 Valley View I started up around 9:00 AM one beautiful Sunday morning amidst an explosion of wildflowers. I had to stop several times to photograph some irresistable specimens, and I soon came to discover my first mistake - I had neglected to put the bug spray in my pack. The mosquitos and biting flies were deadly, and after a few photo-op stops, I began asking passers-by if I could borrow some of the potent life-saving potion. After about 3 tries, I found somebody who had some bug spray and I could then relax and concentrate on the walk, the beautiful scenery and the flower photography. ( Moral of this story - Bring the Bug Spray!!! )

It was pretty strenuous, and I was thinking, man, am I out of shape! When I got to about 1/2 hour from the top, I encountered some pretty serious snow fields, remnants from last winter that hadn't yet melted off. It was pretty tricky maneuvering over the snow trying to keep my balance while carrying a full pack, but I made it through without falling.

After about a 2 1/2 hour journey, (remember, I was pretty out of shape and carrying about 20 pounds of camera gear, lunch and water), I made it to the top to absolutely stunning views. I stayed at the top for about 2 hours to take pictures (yeah, that's it), rest, have lunch, and simply bask in the beauty of the place. I walked around the lake to see everything I could. There is a waterfall on the far end that was flowing like a cascade down the slope feeding the lake, and a runoff waterfall on the near end that goes down the mountain.

Richardson's Geranium The flowers were out in force and I couldn't help wanting to photograph them all. There were paintbrush, columbine, wild rose, blue bells, alpine forget-me-not, and geraniums to name a few.

There were a couple of tents from those who had overnighted up there (ah, what a life!), and although I didn't see any fisherman today, there are often several people trying their luck in this mountain lake. I did see a group of kids jump into the lake and quickly voice their opinion of how cold it was!

The trip down was the real challenge. I usually end up thinking the uphill part is the easiest. It doesn't feel that way while it is happening, but once I start going down, I quickly realize it was. The very steep downhill causes your toes to be mashed into the tops of your boots. Coupled with the extra weight that gravity adds when you step down, makes for some very tired feet at the bottom. Going down the snowfield was scary, but I made it through that without incident.

Once at the bottom, I hurried home. I took a shower, fixed dinner and then relaxed on the couch to the Simpson's , one of my favorite shows. I didn't see the end. I fell asleep. My husband woke me and I went up to bed only to collapse and not awaken again until 7:00 the next morning.

Have you seen that commercial for energy bars where somebody takes on a little more than they can handle and then they run out of energy and crash and burn? Then the words Don't Bonk come on the screen. Well, I guess I BONKED. But it was worth it. So beautiful, so peaceful, I wish I could stay forever!

For more pictures from this hike, check out the Red Pine Lake Photo Gallery.

Backroads of Utah
by Theresa A. Husarik

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