Big Cottonwood Canyon may be the most beautiful place in Utah. We love the steep cliffs and alpine meadows. This canyon is full of family-friendly spots (check out our list of 10 family hikes in Big Cottonwood Canyon). We were excited to try a new hike called Willow Heights Lake Trail. This hike ascends from the skiing basin near the top of the canyon up to a beautiful lake high in the aspens.
- Rating: moderate
- Length: 2.0 miles roundtrip
- Elevation Change: 629 feet
- Dog Friendly: No
The Willow Heights Lake trail is not long, just 1 mile each way (it’s an out-and-back trail), but it is fairly steep. We’d rate this hike as moderate for children based on the steepness. The trail heads up the mountain through the aspen trees. We love to hike this trail in June after the snow has cleared. Everything is so green and there are tons of wildflowers everywhere.
There is one junction that you will pass on this trail. Some people have tried hiking over closer to the cabins, but please stay on the trail to the right when you hit that junction. After climbing up through the trees, the trail comes to a wide open field. There are beautiful views of the mountains and the path flattens out. Follow the trail straight toward the lake.
The payoff is definitely worth the climb. We loved the lake and spent a long time throwing rocks and resting. Some friendly ducks saw us and swam over to see if we were throwing food, which we weren’t. We also saw squirrels and butterflies. Willow Heights Lake is a beautiful spot.
The hike continues around the small lake, and we decided to follow the trail around. There is a definite trail and it is much like the trail that you hike on the way up with lots of trees and greenery. This adds an extra 1/4 of a mile to the hike, but soon you come around and end up back on the front side of the lake. Here you can take the same trail that you climbed up back down.
Be extra careful heading down. Our 4 year-old fell down several times, and mom and dad even took minor spills on the way back to the car. We held tightly to both children and “skied” down the steepest, rocky parts. The trail is dusty and slick, so hold on to little ones hands.
Please remember to stay on the trail and off of private property. Some hikers have tried hiking different trails and end up near the cabins. If you follow our directions, you will be on the right path to Willow Heights Lake.
To find the Willow Heights Lake Trail, go 11.5 miles up Big Cottonwood Canyon. Just after Silver Lake Lodge, watch for a pull out on the right side of the road. Cross the street and start the hike by the sign that says: Willow Heights Conservation Area.