Overview

The Catherine Pass Trail features fields of colorful wildflowers and fantastic views as it climbs through Albion Basin to the pass dividing Little and Big Cottonwood Canyons. This trail is easy to moderate with an elevation gain of about 848 feet over 1.5 miles. The trail is well maintained and suitable for most healthy adults and children.

Trailhead

The Catherine Pass trailhead (40.582903, -111.618494) is located in Albion Basin near the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon. To reach the trailhead from I-215 in Salt Lake City:

  1. Take Exit 6 for 6200 S/Wasatch Blvd.
  2. Drive south on Wasatch Blvd. for 3.9 miles.
  3. Bear left onto UT-210/Little Cottonwood Canyon Road and continue up the canyon 12.7 miles.
  4. After passing Alta Ski Resort, the paved road ends. Continue up the dirt road another 1.9 miles to the signed Catherine Pass Trailhead. The dirt road is suitable for passenger cars in dry conditions.

NOTE: There is very limited parking at the trailhead and no parking is allowed along the road nearby. Arrive early and carpool if possible to get a spot. On busy weekends, a free shuttle is often available from Alta to the Catherine Pass and Cecret Lake trailheads.

The Route

From the Catherine Pass Trailhead, cross the gravel road and begin hiking on the signed Catherine Pass Trail. Take note that the actual distance to the pass is 1.5 miles, not 1.0 mile as indicated on one of the two signs near the parking area.

Hike up the trail as it passes through granite outcroppings and a few ski lifts that are out of operation in the summer. Soon the trail becomes a bit more strenuous as you work your way toward Catherine Pass. A dazzling array of wildflowers adorns the trail throughout the summer months.

After about 0.8 miles, the trail takes a hard turn to the left at an unsigned junction. Continue hiking as it climbs a steep hill into a meadow before arriving at the final climb to Catherine Pass (40.580739, -111.598631).

Once on top of Catherine Pass, the trail connects to the Great Western Trail. From this vantage point you can take in the panoramic views of Big Cottonwood Canyon and the Brighton Lakes area. The lake just below the pass is Catherine Lake, one of the three Brighton Lakes. If you are looking for a longer hike, you can continue down the other side of the pass to Catherine Lake or any of the Brighton Lakes. For a more strenuous route, hikers can turn right onto the Great Western Trail and hike to the summit of nearby Sunset Peak, which is the prominent peak visible to the right when standing on the pass.

Total hiking distance to Catherine Pass and back is approximately 3.0 miles round trip.

Rules and Regulations

  • No dogs allowed.
  • No littering.
  • No swimming.
  • No camping within 200 feet of trails and water sources.

Special Considerations

There is very limited parking at the trailhead and no parking is allowed along the road nearby. Arrive early and carpool if possible to get a spot. On busy weekends, a free shuttle is often available from the Alta to the Catherine Pass and Cecret Lake trailheads.

Credits

This trail guide is provided by Backcountry Post.