Bloods Lake | Guardsman Pass

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Bloods Lake is a very popular trail near Park City. Years ago, the trail started right at Guardsman Pass at the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon and crossed private property. This was a problem for years. Finally, the trailhead was moved to the Park City side just about a mile beyond Guardsman Pass. There is a bigger parking area, and the trail is now open to the public.

Though it is true that the parking area is quite a bit larger, it’s hardly large enough. In our experience, Bloods Lake is one of the busiest trails in the state. Still, it is primarily shaded and very beautiful.

Hike Info:

  • Distance: 2.8 miles RT
  • Rating: moderate
  • Elevation Gain: 465 feet
  • Dog-Friendly: Yes, on leash. Dogs are not allowed at the lake.
  • Tips: Go early to avoid crowds and to find a parking spot. This trail is very busy.
Bloods Lake is beautiful.

Bloods Lake Trail

To begin the hike, cross the road near the restrooms from the parking lot. The 2.8 mile roundtrip trail starts off in the thick trees and follows along the ridgeline. There isn’t a lot of up and down as the trail continues south, but as it reaches the thick timber, it turns steeply uphill. From this point, the trail is a short, steady climb to the lake. There are even some switchbacks.

The parking are was already filling up at 9:00 am on a Wednesday.
The trail is well signed.
The trail begins in the aspens.
There is a lookout point. That trail in the bottom is the alternate trail mentioned below.
The trail is mostly shaded.
Soon the trail heads into thicker trees, and starts to climb steeply.
This is the last spot that dogs are allowed. They will have to wait with someone here.

Once you reach Bloods Lake, you understand the reason that so many people want to see it. The peaceful water perfectly mirrors the thick pines and granite peaks around the lake. It’s a gorgeous alpine scene. There are a few benches to rest on, but there are also lots of places to spread out and enjoy the lake peacefully.

Bloods Lake is such a peaceful spot, even with all the people.
We love this spot.

The trail goes left or right around the lake, and both directions are easy. It is difficult to circumnavigate the entire lake because of a short section on the far side. There is a large slide area, which is manageable, and a muddy area covered with bushes, which is more difficult. We walked through the rocky area and saw several pikas, squirrels, and chipmunks. But beware, there is poison oak on the far side. There is also a section of mud where the water flows into the lake, so it’s definitely tricky to walk all the way around Bloods Lake. It adds an extra 1/4 mile to hike around the lake.

Walking around the lake is possible, but challenging.
There are rocks and mud to work through to get all the way around.
We liked the different perspectives of Bloods Lake when walking around.

Blood Lake is a beautiful hike. We recommend hiking this early in the morning, and on a weekday.

Alternate Return Trail

There is a “recommended” trail back to the parking lot that is different from the trail to Bloods Lake. The distance is the same, but there is a little different elevation situation. This alternate trail climbs steadily down off the ridge. It’s easy going until right near the end. Then it climbs steeply to the parking lot. We found this trail to be a good route, particularly if you want to avoid other people. Despite being a busy day, we only saw one other group on this trail, and the trail is wider. You can also head back down the trail the way you came.

Follow the signs for the alternate trail back to the car from Bloods Lake.
This trail drops quickly down into the valley.
There is little shade on this alternate trail, but it’s much wider.
This sign sends the trail steeply back up to the other Bloods Lake trail.
It’s a steep climb at the end, but we did like taking the alternate route to have a little peace on the trail.


Bloods Lake is located along the Guardsman Pass Road.

From SLC, head to the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon. Before making the circle through Brighton, take a sharp left onto Guardsman Pass Road. Follow for 4.1 miles to the Bloods Lake Trailhead.

From Park City, take UT-224 into town. Turn left onto Deer Valley Drive when you get close to downtown. Take Marsac Ave out of the traffic circle and follow for 4 miles. At the next traffic circle, take the last exit onto UT-224 (Guardsman Pass road). Follow for 2.7 miles to the Bloods Lake Trailhead.

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