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Location:
• Red Pine Lake - Utah

Distance:
• 7 miles round trip to the lake
• 8.5 miles round trip to peak 10,897

Elevation Gain:
• 2000 to the lake
• 3297 to unnamed peak 10,897

Season:
• Late Spring to late October (until the snow flies)

Difficulty:
• Moderate to lake
• Strenuous to peak 10,897

Maps:
• USGS Dromedary Peak
• Trails Illustrated Wasatch Front/Strawberry Valley;
• Trails Illustrated Uinta National Forest (Lone Peak, Mt. Timpanogos, Mt. Nebo Wilderness Areas)

Red Pine Lake - Utah

The north edge of Red Pine Lake looking south

Red Pine Lake
Spectacular views of the rocky granite summits of Little Cottonwood Canyon's Alpine Ridge punctuate the journey up to two small, blue-green watery jewels nestled into a glacier-carved basin at the top of Red Pine Canyon.

Getting There:
Take I-15 south from Salt Lake City to the 90th South exit. Head East on 90th South to the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon. Along the way you can follow the signs to the canyon's famous ski resorts: Alta, Solitude, Brighton, and Snowbird. Proceed up canyon 5 miles to the White Pine Lake trailhead sign, a little more than a mile after the Tanner's Flat parking area. Watch closely for the sign once you see Tanner's Flat, as it is easy to miss. The White Pine Lake and Red Pine Lake trails share the same trailhead, which offers nice restrooms facilities and ample parking. You'd best arrive early on Spring weekends as the popularity of this hike means you'll have lots of company.

The Trail
The two trails start together, following a paved trial from the restroom area, immediately crossing a bridge over Little Cottonwood Creek and heading south through a forest dotted with wild flowers. About mile from the parking area, the trails split-the White Pine Lake trail follows a switchback to the left and rises quickly to the east. The Red Pine Lake trail veers to the right, or west, and crosses a foot bridge, as it passes across marshy bog land amid several springs and seeps. Near the split a sign notifies you that you are entering the Lone Peak Wilderness Area, Utah's first wilderness area.

"The ascent to the upper ridge at peak 10,897 is well worth the effort. Your reward will be views to north side of Little Cottonwood Canyon, west to the Salt Lake Valley, Mount Timpanogos to the south, and Utah Valley to the southwest..."

The trail turns west and north, back toward the parking lot, as it ascends up the forested ridge separating the two drainages. Although not steep, the constant rise puts you well above the road by the time you reach the northern extremity of the ridge. The trail rounds the ridge, and follows it to the west, paralleling the road below. Along the ridge's north face, vegetation and wildflowers abound. Beautiful white columbines line the trial in places.

After about mile, the trail begins to round the ridge and head back to the south, and into Red Pine Canyon.

Filtering water at Red Pine Lake

Red Pine Lake
At this point you are well above the stream, and only catch occasional glimpses of it below, but the roar of the stream making its rapid descent is a constant companion. This is an excellent area to stop and view up and down Little Cottonwood Canyon. As you work your way along the ridge, keep an eye out to the west, and you'll be rewarded with occasional views of the Salt Lake Valley

Heading due south now, the trail continues to ascend and you begin to see a transition from into aspens. The trail steepens, becoming rockier. You'll top out after another mile, near a jutting cliff on your left, and join Red Pine Creek on the right. Snow remains from here to the lake often into late June or early July.

A trail breaks off to the west, crossing Red Pine Creek over a bridge, to make its way to Maybird Gulch, the next drainage down Cottonwood Canyon. Keep on the trail on the left or east side of the stream. From here almost to the lake, a distance of about 1 mile, the slope lessens, and works its way through a canopy of mixed pine and aspen.

White Baldy

White Baldy
After about mile, the trail levels out as you top the ridge, which forms the north boundary of Red Pine Lake. Cresting the ridge, you'll find several good camp spots back away from the lake. Remember good camping practices, camping at least 200 feet away from the lake and the outlet stream.

The lake opens up before you and you'll get your first full view of the mountain bowl above the lake, which tops out near 11,000 feet. To your right, the highest peak in back is the Pfeifferhorn (Little Matterhorn on some maps), and in the foreground an unnamed peak at about 10,897 feet (elevation shown on the Trails Illustrated Uinta National Forest map). Straight ahead looms White Baldy, and to the left the American Fork Twin Peaks.

The steeper terrain of the bowl consists of rugged rock slides. If you want to climb to the ridge, its best to hike in May or early June and bring crampons to ascend the snowfields above Red Pine Lake, either the long slope to the southwest, or along the tree-lined ridge just to the left.

From the ridge crest at lake's edge, you'll see a worn trail rounding the east edge of the lake, and above that a ridge. The ridge outlines the north edge of Upper Red Pine Lake, a slightly smaller alpine lake on rockier ground in another glacial bowl to the southeast.

Red Pine Lake (left) and Upper Red Pine Lake (on the ridge on the right) from peak 10,897

Unamed peak 10,879
Although difficult to see where the upper lake lies, look for a small stream entering Red Pine Lake from the southeast. This stream drains the upper lake. Follow the stream up; there isn't a well-defined trail, so be prepared to do some boulder-hopping. Despite the lack of a trail, getting to the upper lake is not difficult.

The ascent to the upper ridge at peak 10,897 is well worth the effort. Your reward will be views to north side of Little Cottonwood Canyon, west to the Salt Lake Valley, Mount Timpanogos to the south, and Utah Valley to the southwest.

Be cautious attempting the peak in the early Spring, as avalanche danger is very real in this area, especially wet slabs. Later in the Spring, or in early Summer, the consolidated snow makes an easy pathway to the top for those with crampons and ice axes. Be sure to call the Utah Avalanche Forecast Center before attempting to summit the ridge or peak. Red Lake Canyon is also a popular approach for to the Pfeifferhorn.



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