Sunset Peak sits on Catherine Pass between Brighton and Alta ski area. There are a couple common routes to this 10,648 foot summit with incredible 360 degree views.
Difficulty – Intermediate
Distance – 5.62 miles round trip (9.04 km)
Height – 10,648 feet (3245.51 m)
Elevation gain – 1,936 feet (590.09 m)
Duration – 4.5-6 hours (book time)
Trailhead Location – Brighton Ski Resort (8,785 Feet) or Catherine Pass Trailhead (9,386)
Dogs – Not allowed on this trail
Need To Know Information
- Dogs are not allowed on this hike.
- We recommend the route that is a bit longer with more elevation gain as it takes you past 3 stunning lakes along the way, and parking is free.
- The Catherine Pass Trailhead requires a day parking fee.
- 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 are two main routes for this hike. The easiest route requires paying for a day parking pass. Both are explained below.
- Camping is common, as there are campgrounds near the Catherine Pass Trailhead. Camping information and regulations below.
- Fishing is allowed at the lakes with a Utah Fishing License.
Sunset Peak Via Brighton Ski Resort – 5.62 miles round trip (9.04 km) – 1,936 feet (590.09 m) Elevation Gain
Hikers begin at the Brighton Resort parking lot and find the large trail map sign that shows the direction towards Lake Mary, Lake Martha, and Lake Catherine. This is a very popular spot, so you’ll likely find other hikers, but there is plenty of parking at the resort.
The trail starts relatively steep up some ski runs, but is very easy to follow, well maintained, and navigable by families. Simply follow the trail and signs to Lake Mary which already features stunning views, and then continue on the trail along the lake as it ascends quickly to Lake Martha. There are some side spur trails that can take hikers down to the shoreline of the lake, but the main trail continues at similar gradients along to Lake Catherine.
Lake Catherine has a full trail all the way around the lake. Hikers continue following the route up towards the saddle between Sunset Peak and Mount Tuscarora, which is known as Catherine Pass.
Once reaching the pass, there are two trails, one that goes up the north side of Sunset peak, and one that loops around the back. The trail that loops around the back is slightly longer, but has great views, and is better maintained. We recommend this trail. It has several viewpoints along the way.
Simply follow the ridge to Sunset Peak, and retrace your steps when ready to return.
Sunset Peak Via Catherine Pass Trailhead – 3.88 miles round trip (6.24 km) – 1,440 feet (438.91 m) Elevation Gain
In addition to this trailhead, hikers can park 2 miles below this trailhead for free, but given the added distance, we’d recommend simply starting at Brighton Ski Resort instead if wanting free parking.
This route is stunning from the beginning, as the Albion Basin where this hike starts already has fantastic views. The trail starts by having hikers immediately cross the road to begin on the trail where the trail is very well established, and gradually gains elevation all the way up to Catherine Pass. Once hitting Catherine Pass, hikers are actually joining the same route as those starting from Brighton.
From the ridge, hikers can bear right towards sunset, or go let towards Mount Tuscarora.
Hiking in Winter
There are campgrounds within Albion Basin that can be reserved when they are open. This campground contains 24 camping sites, each with picnic tables and campfire rings. Vault toilets are also on the premise. Information and availability can be found here.
If taking the Brighton resort trailhead in Big Cottonwood Canyon, the closest campground to the trailhead is the Redman Campground. Information and reservations can be found here.
Fishing Lake Mary, Lake Martha and Lake Catherine
All three lakes have healthy fish populations. This is a catch and release fishery, but many anglers can have success on most days on any of the lakes.
Here is a detailed weather forecast for the area:
Snow. Cloudy. High near 19, with temperatures falling to around 14 in the afternoon. Wind chill values as low as -1. West wind 12 to 16 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New snow accumulation of 2 to 4 inches possible.
Snow. Cloudy. Low around 12, with temperatures rising to around 15 overnight. Wind chill values as low as -1. West wind 15 to 21 mph, with gusts as high as 32 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New snow accumulation of 5 to 9 inches possible.
Snow. Cloudy. High near 24, with temperatures falling to around 19 in the afternoon. Wind chill values as low as -4. West wind 13 to 17 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New snow accumulation of 6 to 10 inches possible.
Snow. Cloudy, with a low around 20. Wind chill values as low as 5. West southwest wind 16 to 20 mph, with gusts as high as 32 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New snow accumulation of 10 to 14 inches possible.
Snow. Cloudy, with a high near 29. West southwest wind 12 to 16 mph. Chance of precipitation is 90%. New snow accumulation of 4 to 8 inches possible.
Snow likely before 5am. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 23. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New snow accumulation of 1 to 3 inches possible.
Partly sunny, with a high near 27.
To Brighton Resort Trailhead:
To Catherine Pass Trailhead:
The first trailhead is the lower trailhead that is free to park at. There is free parking along the main road, across the street, and in various locations. Parking is relatively easy, and marked, but the trailhead starts right behind the Alta Ski Shop. This is the Albion Base Trailhead:
The most common trailhead to Catherine Pass and is the Catherine Pass Trailhead. A day fee is required and payment is collected by an attendant:
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, 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 his frequent adventures in the mountains, always testing gear, learning skills, gaining experience, and building his endurance for outdoor sports. You can read more about his experience here: hikingandfishing/about