Overview

From the rocky granite shores of Lake Mary to lofty Lake Catherine the Brighton Lakes trail offers hikers classic Wasatch scenery and the opportunity to shorten or lengthen the hike as desired. The most popular lake on this route is Lake Mary the first major lake encountered one mile and 760 feet from the trailhead. Hikers looking for a longer hike can continue to Lake Martha or Lake Catherine at 1.5 and 2 miles respectively or go all the way to the top of the trail at Catherine Pass for a 4.5-mile round trip hike with a whopping 1450 feet of elevation gain. This trail is suitable for most healthy adults and children.

Trailhead

The Brighton Lakes Trail begins at Brighton Ski Resort at the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon (40.598214, -111.584094). To reach the trailhead from I-215 in Salt Lake:

  1. From I-215 on the east side of Salt Lake City, take Exit 6 for Wasatch Blvd/6200 South.
  2. Continue south on Wasatch Blvd for 1.8 miles to the intersection with Big Cottonwood Canyon Road.
  3. Turn left onto Big Cottonwood Canyon Road and travel 14.1 miles.
  4. Bear right onto the one-way loop near the top of the canyon.
  5. Continue 0.4 miles to the parking area for Brighton Ski Resort on the right.

The Route

From the Brighton Ski Resort parking area, begin hiking on the Lake Mary/Catherine Pass trail near the base of the resort. The trail climbs under ski lifts through fields of grass and wildflowers before entering a forested section. The junction with Dog Lake is soon encountered and is a worthy side trip if you have the time.

Beyond the Dog Lake junction, continue hiking as the trail follows along a small stream. Soon the tall, concrete dam that forms Lake Mary is visible. After a final short climb, the trail arrives at the east side of Lake Mary (40.589093, -111.588765). Most of the traffic on this trail spends their time here, and for good reason. The rocky, granite outcroppings that surround the lake make for an incredibly beautiful scene. Take your time and explore the shoreline, but please remember that swimming is not allowed in any of the Brighton Lakes.

For a longer hike, continue hiking past Lake Mary for another half mile to Lake Martha (40.585411, -111.591767). Martha is not as large as Mary, but size isn’t everything as those who press on to Martha will find. Perhaps the best part, you’ll have a much better chance of finding solitude the further you distance yourself from Lake Mary.

Beyond Lake Martha, the trail climbs steeply, gaining about 400 feet over just a half mile before arriving at Lake Catherine (40.581340, -111.593380). Catherine is just out of view from the trail so keep an eye out for a short spur trail on the left that leads to the lake. The main trail continues past Lake Catherine another quarter mile to the top of Catherine Pass at 10,240 feet.

Return the way you came. Total hiking distance to Catherine Pass and back is approximately 4.5 miles round trip.

Rules and Regulations

  • No dogs allowed.
  • No swimming.
  • No littering.

Special Considerations

Several other great trails connect with the Brighton Lakes Trail and offer possibilities for longer, more adventurous hikes. These include Twin Lakes, Catherine Pass via Albion Basin, and Sunset Peak. See the other Healthy Hikes in this area for more information.

Credits

This trail guide is provided by Backcountry Post.