Silver Lake is a delightful family hike around a beautiful mountain lake surrounded by aspen and pine trees near the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon. This easy trail is suitable for hikers of all skill levels and is even wheelchair accessible for some of its 1-mile length. Kids will love playing along the trail where sightings of birds squirrels and other small mammals are frequent.


The trailhead for Silver Lake is located near the end of Big Cottonwood Canyon Road near Brighton Ski Resort (40.603313,-111.584426).

From Salt Lake City:

  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 Cottonwood Canyon Road.
  3. Turn left onto Cottonwood Canyon Road and travel 14.1 miles.
  4. Bear right onto the one-way loop near the top of the canyon.
  5. Continue 200 yards to the trailhead and parking area on the right.

Restrooms are available at the trailhead.

The Hike

From the Silver Lake Trailhead, the hike begins near the information center on the west side of the parking area. There are some excellent picnic facilities here if you brought lunch. From the information center, the boardwalk travels east through a large wetland area. It is not uncommon to see waterfowl and other critters in this thriving ecosystem. If traveling the loop clockwise, a short boardwalk out to a dock on the lake soon appears on the right.

Beyond the dock, the boardwalk ends but the trail continues. From here, around the west and north side of the lake, the trail is dirt and gravel but is well maintained and easy to follow. There are some uneven surfaces and small slopes but the majority of hikers should have no trouble at all. Another dock is located shortly off the trail on the north shore of the lake, providing a good place to take a break or try your luck fishing.

Continue on the main path to the northwest corner of the lake where the trail turns south onto a bridge that crosses the outlet stream of the lake and returns to the trailhead on another boardwalk. Total hiking distance is approximately 1.0 mile.

Rules and Regulations

  • No littering.
  • Pack out all trash.
  • No pets allowed.
  • No swimming.

Special Considerations

Mosquitoes can be a problem in the summertime, wear long sleeves and pants and apply bug repellent if needed.


This trail guide is provided by Backcountry Post.