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Cecret Lake – A Hike for Everyone

Updated: Mar 2, 2021

Cecret Lake Reflection near Alta Utah
Reflection of Devil's Castle across Cecret Lake at sunset

Cecret Lake is a great hike for everyone – even for people who don’t like to hike.  It provides gorgeous views of the surrounding mountain peaks in an easy one mile hike that the youngest child or oldest grandparent can handle.  The great thing about this hike is that it is an alpine environment with a lot of wildflowers, streams and vegetation only 20 minutes from the Salt Lake Valley.

While it is called Cecret Lake, it is a popular hike with the locals, so you will probably find a crowded parking if you attempt to hike this on a weekend in the summer, especially in the evenings.  I recommend this hike during the weekday to avoid the crowds, it is a hike that can easily be done after work.

Secret Lake, Alta Utah
Sun setting over the pine trees at Cecret Lake

In just a mile this hike has it all, meadows, pine trees, mountain streams, the occasional moose and a beautiful mountain lake at the end.  It makes for a great picnic, a hike with the kids or a romantic stroll.  There are other hikes nearby, including one to Sugar Loaf and Devil’s castle, if you have some time and would like to go on a couple of hikes.

Bull Moose, Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah

Bull moose walking across the trail near Cecret Lake
A bull moose walking across the trail

It is not uncommon to see a moose on the trail to Cecret Lake, especially if you go in the evening or the morning hours.  At these times you probably have a 50/50 shot of seeing one.  I’ve even seen them mid-day in July, they really like this area.  While seeing a wild animal is one of the greatest things to see, remember that they are still wild so keep your distance.  Moose are powerful animals, one that you don’t want to make mad.

Getting There

Cecret Lake is at the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon.  Take the road up the canyon to the booth as the end of the pave road, Alta Ski resort will be on your right.  You will continue up the dirt road, which can be done in a sedan with decent clearance if you are careful, it is well maintained and has just a few speed bumps you’ll need to negotiate.  Follow this road until you see a parking lot next to a campground.  You can park here and you will see signs to the trail, it is well marked.  There is also a restroom here if you need one.

Devil's Castle near Cecret Lake, Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah
View of Devil's Castle from the Cecret Lake Trail

The Hike  

The hike is about 1 mile long and goes through some nice green meadows, a small pine forest and then up a few switch backs to the lake.  The trail is well marked and well maintained.  There are a few streams, but there are plenty of rocks to hop-scoth your way across.  Even if you miss one, it is not a big deal as the stream, if you can call it that, is only a few inches deep.  There is just a little bit of elevation gain, but it is very manageable and for this reason I give it an easy rating.

Wildflowers can be seen along the way, and if you time it just right, usually the beginning of June, you can hike it when they are in full bloom.  But no matter when you go, there is always something pretty to see.  The Lake itself is maybe 100 yards across at its widest point, but provides a beautiful spot for picnicking, napping or just taking in natures beauty.

  1. Distance (roundtrip): 2 miles

  2. Elevation Gain: A few hundred feet, if that

  3. Rating: Easy

Peaks near Cecret Lake, Little Cottonwood Canyon, Alta Utah
Great view of surrounding peaks from the trail

What to take  

A little bit of water and food, is probably all you need for this hike.  Of course wear good shoes, but leave the swimming suit at home, as no swimming is allowed in Cecret Lake.  I also recommend bringing a camera as it is hard to take a bad photo in this beautiful area.

I’ve never snow shoed this area before as it lies in the middle of Alta Ski Resort, which makes it a little difficult to find in the snow.  If you want to snow shoe near this area, I recommend Grizzly Gulch.  Stay tuned for a post about Grizzly Gulch coming soon.  One other note, because of its higher elevation, this hike is not accessible until late May early June depending on how late it snows.

Cecret Lake up Little Cottonwood Canyon
Reflections of the surrounding mountains

As always if you have any questions or comments about this hike, please use the comments section below. If you found this article helpful and are planning other adventures in Utah consider signing up for our e-mail list (simply go to the top of page and click subscribe - it's free!) to get the latest adventure posts. You can also sign up to be a member here to share comments at the bottom of our posts and in our forums. Most importantly don't forget to get outside and find your adventure!

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