Three great Salt Lake wildflower hikes — with parking
Late July is wildflower season in the Wasatch Mountains — but you might not find a parking spot at the most popular trailheads for petal-peeping.
- My last wildflower visit to Alta's famous Albion Basin involved a 45-minute wait on a Tuesday morning while rangers metered traffic at the resort base to avoid a dangerous parking overload.
Our thought bubble: Summer transit — or the lack of it — in the Salt Lake canyons deserves a lot more attention.
- I can't be the only one who fantasizes about a Zion-esque summer shuttle for Millcreek and the Cottonwoods.
Until we have access solutions, here are three good wildflower hikes with more robust parking.
1. Reynolds Peak
This peak above Dog Lake doesn't get a ton of traffic, even though the lake is one of the most popular hiking destinations in the county.
- The good news is that you can approach Dog Lake from the Big Cottonwood side, which has a big parking lot at Mill D.
Details: After the 2-mile hike from Mill D to Dog Lake, the path to the peak rises another half mile to the southwest.
- The hike is about 5 miles round-trip, with an elevation gain of about 2,200 feet.
- I've seen carpets of lupine and geraniums just above the lake, leading to an explosion of red paintbrush and blue penstemon flowers near the summit.
2. Brighton Lakes
These trails are also wildly popular, but the resort parking lot can absorb a big crowd.
Details: You can piece together legs of this 7-mile loop in various permutations, but the best wildflower viewing generally is on the trail from the resort up to Lakes Mary, Martha and Catherine.
- Just the 1-mile hike to Brighton's Dog Lake (different from the one mentioned above) can provide a great display.
3. White Pine Lake
This Little Cottonwood hike is consistently busy, but the long stretch of nearby street parking gives you a much better chance of scoring a spot than at Albion Basin.
- The wildflower display here is among the best, with creekside elephant's head and bog orchid flowers giving way to carpets of geranium and paintbrush.
Details: The hike to the spectacular alpine lake is 10 miles round trip, but you don't have to go that far to see flowers.
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