Hiking Red Pine Lake, Utah – Little Cottonwood Canyon


Article Categories: Hiking

Red Pine Lake is located in Little Cottonwood Canyon only a short distance away from Salt Lake City. It is frequently rated as one of the top hikes on the Wasatch front for lake lovers. Red Pine Lake consists of two lakes, Red Pine Lake, and Upper Red Pine Lake. In this article, you’ll get all the info you need for hiking to these gorgeous spots.

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Difficulty – Intermediate
Distance – 6.96 miles round trip (11.20 km)
Height – 9,600 feet (2926.08 m)
Elevation gain – 2,220 feet (676.66 m)
Duration – 5-6 hours (book time)
Trailhead Location – White Pine Trailhead (7,671 Feet)
Dogs – Not allowed on this trail


Need To Know Information

  • Dogs are not allowed on this hike.
  • Swimming is not allowed in any of the lakes in this area.
  • This is a popular hike, and you will encounter people. Parking fills up quite fast.
  • There is overflow parking on the road (explained below).
  • Red Pine Lake is the first of 2 lakes at this location, and we have information below about how much added distance it is to Upper Red Pine Lake
  • Camping is common, and there are no fees or permits required. Camping information and regulations below.

Trail Map

Red Pine Lake Trail Map

Click to enlarge this map

Download GPX Here




Red Pine Lake Via White Pine Trailhead – 6.96 miles round trip (11.20 km) – 2,220 feet (676.66 m) Elevation Gain

This is the only commonly taken route to Red Pine Lake. Hikers begin at the trailhead behind the bathrooms located at the parking lot. Hikers descend a small amount before crossing a footbridge over Little Cottonwood Creek. From here, the trail is road width, well maintained, and very well traveled. Hikers will ascend a moderate incline for 0.9 miles before reaching the first junction. Hikers will find a sign leading to the far left towards White Pine Lake, and a second sign towards Red Pine Lake and Maybird Gulch. This junction is located at a beautiful spot along the river as well.

Hikers follow signs to Red Pine Lake. The trail flattens out a bit here for a little bit before steadily increasing on a well maintained and well traveled hiking trail.

1.6 miles from the last junction (2.5 miles in), hikers reach the second junction. There are signs pointing towards Maybird Gulch,  but hikers stay left towards Red Pine Lake. The trail is undergoing maintenance in parts between here and the lake, so the route may differ slightly, but should be very easy to follow as it is very well maintained and traveled. Plus, there are no junctions. Continue the steady incline to Red Pine Lake. Hikers can do an entire loop around the lake. The loop around the lake is an additional 0.6 miles.


Adding Upper Red Pine Lake

Once reaching Red Pine Lake, the views are stunning, and hikers can actually walk all around the lake.

If hikers choose to add in Upper Red Pine Lake, they add roughly:

  • An additional 0.66 miles to reach Upper Red Pine Lake
  • An additional 500 feet of vertical gain and loss to go to the lake and back.

This addition is totally worth it if you feel good!


Adding In Pfeifferhorn

Pfeifferhorn is an 11,326 foot summit that looms over these lakes. This is a rough route that should only be done by those with experience. It is 1.5 miles and about 1,600 feet of gain above the lower lake.



Hiking in Winter

This is a great winter hike, and the above information does not change very much aside from being prepared for the weather, and bringing snowshoes, skis, or microspikes.


Camping Information

This is a common camping area. Due to the wilderness area and watershed regulations, no campfires or dogs are allowed. Any campers must camp at least 200 feet away from trails, lakes, or streams. Campers will find established sites all around both lakes pretty easily.


Fishing Red Pine Lake

Upper Red Pine Lake has a healthy population of trout. Anglers tend to have better luck at the upper lake, and the main lake, Red Pine Lake, tends to not fish as well. This is a catch and release fishery. Fish will take dry flies on most summer days, but using a dry dropper rig is highly recommended.



Here is a detailed weather forecast for the area:

Alta, UT

Memorial Day
Sunny, with a high near 61. West northwest wind around 6 mph.

Mostly clear. Low around 43, with temperatures rising to around 45 overnight. Southeast wind 6 to 9 mph.

A slight chance of showers and thunderstorms after noon. Sunny, with a high near 67. South wind around 9 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Tuesday Night
Partly cloudy, with a low around 44. South wind 8 to 12 mph.

A slight chance of showers and thunderstorms after noon. Mostly sunny, with a high near 65. Southwest wind around 12 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.

Wednesday Night
Mostly clear, with a low around 37.

Sunny, with a high near 57.



The White Pine Trailhead is a medium sized parking lot, but parking is located along the road as long as cars stay off the road, and not over the white lines. This is a very popular destination, so parking is often limited on weekends, holidays, or nice weather days. You’ll frequently see cars lining the road as this trailhead is a popular spot for several hiking destinations.


Additional Pictures

Red Pine Lake

Red Pine Lake

Little Cottonwood Canyon from the trail to Red Pine Lake

Little Cottonwood Canyon from the trail to Red Pine Lake

Red Pine Lake views looking towards Little Cottonwood Canyon

Red Pine Lake views looking towards Little Cottonwood Canyon

Max DesMarais

Max DesMarais

Max DesMarais is the founder of hikingandfishing.com. He has a passion for the outdoors and making outdoor education and adventure more accessible. Max is a published author for various outdoor adventure, travel, and marketing websites. He is an experienced hiker, backpacker, fly fisherman, backcountry skier, trail runner, and spends his free time in the outdoors. These adventures allow him to test gear, learn new skills, and experience new places so that he can educate others. Max grew up hiking all around New Hampshire and New England. He became obsessed with the New Hampshire mountains, and the NH 48, where he guided hikes and trail runs in the White Mountains. Since moving out west, Max has continued climbed all of the Colorado 14ers, is always testing gear, learning skills, gaining experience, and building his endurance for outdoor sports. You can read more about his experience here: hikingandfishing/about


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