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Friday, July 29, 2016

Sugarloaf Peak

When I was doing my research to hike Cecret Lake (i.e. a quick google search while sitting in my car), I noticed that Cecret Lake was a rather short and really busy hike.  I read all the important details and then got into the best part of any trail guide....reading through all the comments.  A few people noted that the trail extended to a relatively easy 11,051 peak to summit, Sugarloaf Peak. 
Easiest 11,000'er in the Wasatch I have been told. 

After leaving the lake, you could follow the well established (but smaller) trail past the lake, up some more elevation, past the ski lift and dirt roads to the ridge between Alta and Snowbird. The views from here were amazing and by far, my favorite part of the hike.  While I highly encourage you to make it to the peak if you only make it to the ridge it's still a gorgeous hike.  I spent some time on this ridge, standing amid Snowbird and Alta ski lifts, with wild flowers all around and Mount Timpanogos towering in the background. Eventually, I continued on up the steep and slightly scrambled trail to the Sugarloaf Summit at 11,000'.  This is the perfect way to leave the mobs behind at Cecret Lake and have some peace and quiet on the trail. 

Posing among the peaks 
First Impressions: Sugarloaf Peak was a fun and relatively easy peak to summit. There is something about a hike that leads to an actual peak that makes you feel like "a real hiker". Standing on that summit with a 360 view of the land around you is a great feeling.  The views of the surrounding peaks, the breeze, the sun, and Cecret Lake far off below you.
This hike is even better when like I did, you have the summit to yourself on a sunny day with a light breeze and a packed lunch.  This is the only place a gas station pre-made sandwich tastes good. 

 The last part was strenuous and steep, with some slippery pitches. You will have to navigate your way across shale for the last stretch of the hike. I took a (few) tumbles while trying to get down this slippery slope without trekking poles and have some skinned up knees to prove it. 

The view at the top was absolutely wonderful, with views of other peaks, and Cecret Lake below. If you don’t want to make it all the way to the peak, you can stop at the ridge between Alta an Snowbird for some of my favorite views of the entire hike. Take in the beauty of Timp in the distance, and relax by the Sugarloaf Peak lift. I was also told you could hike all the way up to the Snowbird lift, take the lift down (pay up, free down!) to a second car and get a ride back to your car at Alta. 

The view looking back, leaving Cecret Lake, through the pass, and up the meadow to the Snowbird/Alta ridge 
Trailhead: Cecret Lake Parking/Trailhead is the easiest way to summit Sugarloaf. You can access the trailhead via the Summer Road leading from the Albion Base Area at Alta (this is a dirt road, go slow and be warned, parking fills up quick!). See my Cecret Lake Post for more information on getting to the trailhead and the trail leading up to Cecret Lake (this hike is an extension of Cecret Lake hike). 

The view looking back down the trail, almost to the ridge between Alta and Snowbird

Distance (one way): ~2 miles. 
Elevation Gain: 1600 feet
Highest Point: 11,051'

The view from the ridge down into Snowbird, with Timp in the distance 
Trail: This hike is a continuation from the Cecret Lake Hike. After passing Cecret Lake .75 miles from the trailhead, continue on past the lake where you will start climbing up and across the rocky ledge by the lake (keep an eye out for Moose). After leaving this rocky area, you will make your way across a meadow, towards the dirt road and ski lifts. 

Follow the trail up the meadow (you will see a large pipe heading up the hill) where you will reach the ridge separating Snowbird and Alta. This was my favorite view, and where I spent some time taking far too many pictures. When you reach the ridge, head left towards the Alta Sugarloaf Lift. Just before the lift to the right, you will see some plastic fencing and a trail leading up to that. This is the entrance to the trail leading up to Sugarloaf Peak. 

From here, the trail is less defined and gets very steep very quick. There is a lot of loose dirt and loose rocks. Trekking poles (especially on the way down) are highly advised. At the very end, you will reach a small scree field. Make your way across the rocks and you will see a pile of rocks with a pole in the middle at the peak. 

Take in the views all around, say hello to Timp for me, and see Cecret Lake from 11,500 feet. 

The map labeling all the surrounding peaks, Timp, 
American Fork Twin Peaks, Hidden Peak, Sugarloaf Peak, and Mt. Baldy

Another view down into Snowbird (I was obsessed) 

Amazing view of my favorite iconic mountain - Timpanogos 

View down from where I had just hiked up from the Alta side

Amazing wildflowers 

Timp and wildflowers 

Heading up the trail, Alta Lift Sugarloaf 

Wildflowers in July 

Wildflowers in July 

The view down the trail to the ridge, Snowbird ski lift in the distance 

Sugarloaf Alta Lift in the center of the frame 

The trail gets steep, loose, and rocky on the lats bit to the peak 

View of the summit - rock pile and pole marking the summit 

Self Timer on the Summit -Had the trail (and summit) to myself 

View looking down onto Cecret Lake (where I had just hiked from) 

On my way back down, view of Timp through the fence slats on the ridge 

This was one of my favorite Utah summer hikes (Timp still takes first place...). The basin was amazing with all of its showy wildflowers, summer breeze and amazing views. I could have spent all day on that ridge looking at Timp and the other peaks off in the distance. This hike is an absolutely must do, especially in July and August with the wildflowers. Leave early to avoid the crowds at Cecret Lake. You will most likely have the trail to Sugarloaf Peak to yourself. 

Happy Hiking, 


  1. After hiking up to the ridge after Cecret Lake do you go left or right for Sugarloaf?

    1. After hiking up the ridge, head LEFT towards the sugarloaf ski lift - you will see the trail heading up right by the ski lift for Alta :)

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  3. Thanks for answering my question about Mt. Olympus. Now I have another question for you. Amanda and I did this hike today. Do you know what the name is of the other lake you can see from Sugarloaf Peak? When we did a 360 from the top, we saw Cecret Lake and then as we looked around clock-wise, we saw another lake that was right of Cecret Lake. Thanks!

    1. To be honest I did not notice another lake! I just went back to look at my pictures and I only see Cecret Lake in my pictures. Please let me know when you find out!

    2. I posted the question on Hike the Wasatch and found out it is Pittsburgh Lake. I had never heard of that lake before.


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