Hike to Big Cottonwood Canyon's Desolation Lake

Utah Mill D North Trailhead

Added by McKenzie Roers

Desolation Lake offers a quiet destination with wildlife sightings from the trail and Wasatch wildflower fields during summer months.

Drive 9 miles into Big Cottonwood Canyon and park at the Mill D North Trailhead (on the left). On the right side of the road, there is a restroom. The trial head begins on the left, there is a visible sign you cannot miss before beginning.

The trail is about 7.4 miles round trip, about half way through the trail you will come to a fork with a sign (Dog Lake .6 miles, Desolation Lake 1.9 miles). The Desolation Lake trail winds on until you reach the lake. You will climb around 1900 feet in elevation; the trail is a steady uphill climb but nothing too drastic as you can mountain bike up it.

Camping is allowed, dogs are not. Swimming is also prohibited. There are trails that go beyond the lake so you can walk to the ridge line or hang out by the lake. There are trees for hammocking as well!

Pack List

Day Hike:
  • Running shoes are okay
  • Water
  • Sunscreen
  • Snack
  • Hammock
  • Camera
Overnight:
  • Tent
  • Sleeping Bag/Mat
Read More

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

Share

Activities:

Camping, Chillin, Hiking, Photography

Skill Level:

Beginner

Season:

Spring, Summer, Autumn

Trail Type:

Out-and-Back

Distance:

7.4 Miles

Elev. Gain:

1900 Feet

Rating:

Features:

Bathrooms
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
Lake
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Are we missing something?

Suggest an edit

How to Get There

4 months ago

Hammock Overnighter

We did this hike on August 5, 2016 and it was great. We got a late start due to some thunderstorms in Big Cottonwood Canyon and got to the lake about 8:30. On the way, we saw two very large mule deer bucks and a young bull moose. The moose showed up at the reservoir and hung around all night (at one point passing within 15 yards of our hammocks in the dark). We hung the hammocks in the aspens on the north side of the lake. We got up around 9:00, had a bite to eat and were out by 11:00. Trail was busy on Saturday with hikers and MTB'rs. Very picturesque hike. We loved it.

4 months ago

5 months ago

Lots of Bugs

This was a super fun hike! When we went though, there were tons of bugs, so make sure to bring bug spray!

5 months ago

7 months ago

One Of My Favorite Hikes In BCC

I've hiked this in every season and it's one of my favorites. Make sure to bring spikes or snow shoes in the winter, especially if you plan on heading all the way to the lake. Most do not make it that far and only go to Dog Lake. Mountain bikers can be seen in warmer months coming down off the Wasatch Crest Trail.

7 months ago

Added by McKenzie Roers

I'm a 21 year old photographer studying Parks, Recreation, and Tourism and I am currently based out of Park City, Utah. 
 
 England-Turkey-Italy-North Carolina-New Zealand-Utah

More Adventures Nearby

Rappel the Red Ledges

Utah / Red Ledges Day Use Area

This is a sweet spot to go rappelling near Spanish Fork, UT.  It's located at the Red Ledges in Diamond Fork Canyon.  There is a picnic area, grill and restrooms near the base.

Amber Nelson
3 Saves

Hike the Arizona Trail: Buckskin Mountain Passage from Stateline Campground

Utah / Stateline Campground, Utah

Depending how you approach this 800 mile trail, I did the first 4 miles or last 4 miles as an out and back from Stateline Campground on the Utah/Arizona state line and the border of Vermil.

John Maurizi
3 Saves

Hike to the Klondike Bluff Dinosaur Track

Utah / Klondike Bluff Road, Moab

I think these tracks are the best in Moab. Take route 191 north out of Moab for about 13 miles (mile post 142). Klondike Bluff road is on the right. If you pass the airport, you went too far.

John Maurizi
7 Saves