Backpack to Red Pine Lake

Utah White Pine Trailhead

Added by Sam Watson

Red Pine Lake is to access with only a short, ~25 minute drive from Salt Lake City. The lake offers an incredible alpine setting and views with access to several classic Wasatch Peaks.

Red Pine Lake, located in Red Pine Fork of the Wasatch Mountains, is one of the premier hiking and backpacking destinations in Little Cottonwood Canyon. Red Pine Fork is sandwiched in between White Pine Fork and Maybird Gulch to the east and west, respectively. All three are accessed via the White Pine Trailhead, about 5.5 miles up Little Cottonwood Canyon on its south side. The trailhead features pit toilets and ample room to park. However, during weekends in the high season, (July through September) the trailhead can become quite crowded, so be sure to get there early to reserve a good parking spot.

From the parking lot, the trail immediately crosses Little Cottonwood creek via a sturdy footbridge, then begins climbing steeply up the south side of the canyon. Roughly a mile later, the trail splits to access either White Pine Fork or Red Pine Fork. Head right to access Red Pine Fork. The trail continues to gain elevation for about 2.5 miles through thick aspens and pines, breaking occasionally to offer breathtaking down-canyon views. Hikers will then reach Red Pine Lake, located at 9,640 feet.

There are many campsites surrounding the lake. Hikers can stop there, or continue roughly a mile further to Upper Red Pine Lake. The trail to Upper Red Pine Lake is not as well defined as the previous section of trail, but still fairly easy to follow. The campsites around Upper Red Pine Lake are not as nice as those located at Red Pine Lake. The area has much less human traffic however, so campers will be rewarded with a more solitary, peaceful camp. Campers and hikers with more time to spare can access White Baldy (11,321 ft.) or the Pfeifferhorn (11,326 ft.) from the top of Red Pine Fork. Little Cottonwood Canyon is a watershed area, so swimming in Red Pine Lake, or any Lake in the canyon, is not allowed. Water should be filtered from lakes and streams in the area before it is potable. Wildflowers are not to be missed during the summer months, and wildlife is abundant in the area. A camera is highly recommended for capturing the awesome flora and fauna.

Upon returning to Salt Lake, Lone Star Taqueria is my go-to spot for a post-adventure feast. Their fish tacos are the best in the Salt Lake Valley (in my humble opinion), and coupled with an ice cold Corona, make for the perfect way to cap off a trip to the mountains.

Pack List

-Sleepingbag -Tent -Food -Water (water filter) -Hat, sunscreen, sunglasses -Warm clothes

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Backpacking, Camping, Hiking, Photography

Skill Level:



Summer, Autumn

Trail Type:



7.3 Miles

Elev. Gain:

1960 Feet



Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Food Nearby

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3 months ago


Love this hike. Have done it several times and never disappoints. Next time we'll keep going up to Maybird Lakes. Supposed to be just as spectacular.

3 months ago

5 months ago

One Of My Favorites

I've hiked this in the spring and snowshoed it in the winter. I was hailed on in the spring and it's a tougher hike in the winter with many skinning up on skis and split boards. The views are gorgeous on the way up to the lake. The lake is a beautiful payoff at the end.

5 months ago

Added by Sam Watson

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