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Catherines Pass Hike

Central Wasatch Mountains, Utah

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Catherines Pass Hike

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  • Fireweed growing tall below the trailhead.- Catherines Pass Hike
  • A beautiful stretch of the Catherines Pass Trail.- Catherines Pass Hike
  • Arrowleaf balsamroot covers the hills below Devil's Castle (10,920').- Catherines Pass Hike
  • Granite boulders and a sea of flowers.- Catherines Pass Hike
  • Lupine in Albion Basin.- Catherines Pass Hike
  • Sugarloaf Mountain (11,051') from the bottom of Wolverine Cirque.- Catherines Pass Hike
  • Lake Catherine as viewed from the top of the pass.- Catherines Pass Hike
  • Close-up of Lake Catherine.- Catherines Pass Hike
  • Hiking duo taking in the sights.- Catherines Pass Hike
  • Young bull moose.- Catherines Pass Hike
  • A red-tailed hawk resting in a tree.- Catherines Pass Hike
  • A busy wildflower riot in full display.- Catherines Pass Hike
  • A female ruby-throated hummingbird.- Catherines Pass Hike
  • Yellow-bellied marmots are very common here.- Catherines Pass Hike
  • A male blue grouse performing a mating call.- Catherines Pass Hike
  • Female blue grouse and chics.- Catherines Pass Hike
  • The white flower is cow parsnip, the pink flower is sticky geranium, the red flower is Indian paintbrush, and the purple flower is lupine.- Catherines Pass Hike
  • A storm rises above the valley.- Catherines Pass Hike
  • Albion at twlight.- Catherines Pass Hike
  • Mount Superior (11,132') and the city of Alta below.- Catherines Pass Hike
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Stunning array of wildflowers. Good wildlife viewing. Large vistas and views. Easy access.
Cons: 
Can be crowded. Dirt road to top. High elevation hike. Exposed.
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Region:
Central Wasatch Mountains, UT
Congestion: 
Moderate
Pets allowed: 
No
Net Elevation Gain: 
900.00 ft (274.32 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Summer, Fall
Suitable for:
Hiking, Biking
Total Distance: 
3.00 mi (4.83 km)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
9,300.00 ft (2,834.64 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Pro Contributor

Catherines Pass is one of the better known and more iconic hikes in Northern Utah. This is due to the spectacular array of wildflowers one can see here in the late spring and summer. Stunning views down canyon show off Lone Peak, Mount Superior, and Sugarloaf mountains. Every few weeks during the summer an entirely new palette of colors explode on the mountain, each flower springing up at different times throughout the season. This is a great place to see wildlife as well: you can watch moose saunter, marmots scurry, and hummingbirds buzz overhead. 

The trail begins across from the parking lot heading east with Devil's Castle to the south. You'll notice the ski lifts towering overhead, as this area is the Alta Ski Resort in the winter. The trail begins as a steady, moderately challenging climb and levels out at some flower-covered hillsides. After meandering through some light, open pine forests and quartzite cliffs you'll begin to gain the elevation that allows you to see more of Albion Basin below. After the last big hill you'll reach an upper meadow with the 10,795-foot Mount Wolverine to your north and a beautiful cirque and valley below it. Take a moment to search for some moose in this clearing before reaching the pass a short distance ahead.

Once atop the pass you'll have a wide open view in all directions. The trio of lakes that sits to your northeast is Catherine, Martha, and Mary. If you hike down to them you will be entering the Big Cottonwood Canyon and leaving the Little Cottonwood Canyon, where you began. These lakes can also be approached from the Brighton Ski Resort. You can also connect to the Great Western Trail or choose to summit Wolverine and Tuscarora Peaks from this pass, though most hikers turn around here to complete the 3-mile there-and-back trip.

The hike has a few steep sections, but overall it is not too challenging. Keep in mind you are close to 10,000 feet in elevation and acclimating could be a challenge. It can be a little crowded at times, but don't let that stop you from giving it a chance. Please note that the hike is not accessible by car until after July 1 each year. You can hike up from the gate, but it adds almost 2 miles each way.

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Field Guide + Trail Map

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(20 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(143 within a 30 mile radius)

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