Hike to Big Cottonwood Canyon's Desolation Lake

Details

Distance

7.4 miles

Elevation Gain

1900 ft

Route Type

Out-and-Back

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!

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Know for

Chillin
Camping
Photography
Hiking
Bathrooms
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
Lake
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

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Reviews

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BCC Delivers again

Very cool hike with a great lake at the top. Make sure to stop for spring water across the stream on the way up.

Another Great Hike in the Wasatch!

This is a beautiful hike through aspen forests and beautiful meadows, ending in a secluded and peaceful lake. The grade is moderate here, and the trail isn't as rocky as others in the area so it's great for trail running as well. In the summer, the wildflowers are absolutely stunning, dotting the landscape the entire length of the hike. Lots of mosquitoes around that time of year too so bring the bug spray! It's very secluded and peaceful up at the lake, and camping here is a favorite activity for locals. Fall is stunning (as is all of Big Cottonwood) with all of the beautiful aspen. Be sure to watch out for mountain bikers coming down from the Wasatch Crest Trail. This hike was closer to 8 miles according to GPS.

Explorer

🥇Top Contributor

over 4 years ago

My Go-To for Trail Running

The Mill D North trail to Desolation Lake is one of my favorite trails for trail running in the Wasatch. It has a couple natural springs along the way where you can fill up water. During the fall the colors are absolutely stunning!

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.

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!

733 total saves

4.5/5

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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