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Sadly, summer vacation is coming to an end. I wanted to do something outdoors and fun with my kids before they head back to school. I looked for some new places to hike to and remembered hearing about Cecret Lake (pronounced secret). I am sad to say we have lived here for many years and have never been. I am surprised we haven’t been kicked out of Utah because of it. Seems to be a right of passage as a resident. So, if you live in Utah and haven’t been, I highly recommend planning your visit soon.
Cecret Lake is not so secret.
It is a very popular place to visit and the hiking trail is very busy, for good reason. It is one of the prettiest and most rewarding hikes in the area. It is located in the Albion Basin, which is famous for its wildflowers. I found myself wanting to hop off the trail and spin with my arms outstretched singing ‘The hills are alive…’. If you don’t know what that is from then we can no longer be friends.
I did a little research to find out why it is spelled with a ‘c’ instead of a ‘s’. I only found an assumption that it was named by a miner working in the area. Not a very good explanation so let’s just blame this one on the United States Geological Survey for spelling it this way. lol
To get there you will drive up the Little Cottonwood Canyon Road, which is located about 30 minutes southeast of Salt Lake City. You will pass the small town of Alta and the Alta Ski Resort. The road will turn to gravel at this point. It is well maintained and wide enough for two cars. The gate to enter this part of the road is manned and if it is very busy, they may not allow you to travel past this point. *See Tip One below for parking and shuttle information.
A little information about Cecret Lake:
Region: Central Wasatch Mountains, UT
Preferable Seasons: Summer, Fall
Day-Use Parking Pass/Permit: Not Required
Total Distance: 1.60 mi (2.57 km)
Trailhead Elevation: 9,550 ft (2,911 m)
Net Elevation Incline: 350 ft (107 m)
Trail Use: Hiking Only
Trail: Round trip
Dogs Allowed: No
Swimming: Not Allowed
*Parking is VERY limited. There are about 30 parking spots in total at the highest parking lot. We were lucky enough to get there when another family was leaving so we were able to park there. Many that arrived after us had to go back to the next parking lot below.
If you get there when it is busy, there is a free shuttle service on the Weekends and Holidays. It transports visitors from the end of Little Cottonwood Canyon road, in the town of Alta. The shuttle will take you the 2.5 miles to the upper end of Albion Basin road.
This shuttle service operates from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with the last van departing from the Cecret Lake trailhead at the upper end of the road at 4:30 p.m. Typically, the wait between shuttles is around 10-20 minutes.
Please call ahead to confirm this information.
We saw all ages on the trail. This is a family friendly trail, but there is a very rocky incline before you reach the end of the trail (see video below). A lot of adults were carrying little ones (under 3) up the last part of the hike. I would rate it as moderately challenging for the beginner hiker because of the rocky incline.
Don’t forget your camera! The view is breathtaking from start to finish. We missed most of the wildflowers in full bloom, but it was still beautiful and many photo worthy places. I am looking forward to going back soon to get more pictures when the leaves start changing.
Salamanders live in the lake and there are a lot of them. If you stand on a rock looking into the water, you can see them. There were families that had brought small nets with them and they were able to catch a few salamanders. I was pleased to see they were very careful with them and immediately released them back into the water. Please be very respectful of their environment.
Take plenty of water to drink. It is only 2 miles round trip, but you will still need to keep hydrated because you will exert energy to get up the 300 ft rocky incline.
The elevation is high at 9,500 feet. If you are visiting from sea level, your lungs may feel the altitude ‘burn’.
Plan extra time to walk around the lake. The views are worth the time. If you are lucky, you may even have some friendly chipmunks or ground squirrels enjoy the walk with you.
There are a lot of Moose families that live in the area, so don’t be alarmed if you see one, or a family, during your hike. Another reason to have that camera ready. We didn’t see any ourselves, but I was told it is not uncommon to see them there.
Fishing is allowed as a catch and release. I am not sure taking your fishing pole up there would result in too many catches though since the DWR doesn’t stock the lake.
If you are a more advanced hiker and looking to get in a few more miles on your Cecret Lake hike, Sugarloaf Peak is a heavily trafficked out and back trail. It will take you to an elevation of about 11,100 ft.
Weather can change quickly, even in the summer, so bring a light jacket just in case.
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