Little Cottonwood Canyon
Wasatch Mountains - Salt Lake City, Utah
Devils Castle : 10,920'
The Sugarloaf : 11,051'
Hiking time : ~4 hours
Distance : ~2.5 miles
Difficulty : Short but Strenuous, Exposure
Albion Basin is only open from May until November.
Some say that Devil's Castle is the most exposed hike in the
Wasatch. I don't know about that for sure, but it is very airy.
And there are deadly drop-offs on both sides. If you aren't
comfortable with heights, stop at Cecret Lake, a beautiful alpine
lake in Albion Basin.
Albion Basin is known throughout the world by photographers,
as one of the best spots to take pictures of wildflowers. The
alpine area enjoys it's own springtime during July and August.
That's when you'll see wildflowers everywhere.
Camping in Albion Basin:
If you like car camping next to screaming kids with loud parents,
Albion Basin is just for you... Seriously though, I wish there
wasn't car camping in Albion Basin, the car campers don't seem
to respect natural areas.
It is Exposed on Top
I remember a couple years back a photographer fell off the south
side of Devil's Castle. They say he got dizzy looking through
his lens and lost his balance, but who knows. You can't make
a mistake on top. If you fall, it will hurt for the rest of
your life, all 10 seconds of it.
To Get to Albion Basin and Cecret Lake:
Follow Little Cottonwood Canyon Road to the very end. After
passing Alta Ski Resort, you will pass a little ranger kiosk
booth. There, they want to tell you the speed limit is 15 miles
per hour. Continue on through the dirt road, it will curve back
and forth. You will pass a parking area on your right, this
is the trailhead to Catherine's Pass. Continue down the road,
you will pass a 4-5 car overflow parking spot on your left,
keep this in mind if the main parking area is full. Park and
start hiking toward Cecret Lake, there are signs and maps along
the trail. There are also lots of hikers to follow, if you get
To continue to Devil's Castle from Cecret Lake:
There are two clear trails that leave Cecret Lake, one follows
along Cecret Lake's east side and then on up to the switchbacks,
the other starts by the drainage on the northeast side. The
trail by the drainage is very overgrown, muddy and rocky at
first. Eventually it finds it's way out and begins climbing
up the ridge, it swings out eastward and then returns on it's
course to the south and up to the switchbacks. A good pair of
ski poles, or sticks will help you immensely through the steep
switchbacks up to the top of the ridge.
Once on top of the ridge, you will notice that the rock is dark
gray limestone. If you pay attention, you might find a marine
fossil or two.
If you have time, hit the Sugarloaf as well, it's taller than
Devil's Castle and it only takes about 15 minutes up from the
ridge. There are many scenic trail systems below Devils Castle.
One trail marches below the walls of Devils Castle before curving
back north on the east side of Albion Basin. Many people erroneously
take this trail on the way back because they get lost trying
to get back to Cecret Lake. If you find yourself looking over
a cliff edge, back up and find the right trail, which comes
off the northern side of Cecret Lake.