We’ve had our eye on the Cecret Lake hike for quite awhile now. It’s short, rated “easy” by most books and websites, and it ends at a beautiful lake. This hike is not really a secret, so make sure to hike at off times and arrive early for parking.
First of all, this hike is all the way to the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon in the Albion Basin. Parking is extremely limited. There are only about 50 parking spots. In fact, there is a gate where you will be told lots of rules about not parking on the road. On the weekends, they will ask you to take the shuttle rather than try to park. Parking alongside the road anywhere is strictly forbidden, and they are serious about it. There was a snippy lady that told us we couldn’t even pull to the side and wait for a car to leave, but that we had to turn around and drive back! Of course, it was Saturday morning, which is probably their busiest time.
We recommend doing this hike on a weekday and earlier in the day seems to be better than later. We luckily found a parking spot. The shuttle operates on weekends and holidays from 9-5:30 and stops every 30 minutes.
The Cecret Lake Trail
The Cecret Lake hike starts at the campground, and it is definitely beautiful. You will wander through alpine meadows under the ski lifts and up rugged faces to the lake. As for it being rated “easy” we think it leans more toward “moderate.” It is nearly a vertical climb for most of the 1 mile to the lake and it is a bit dusty and rocky. Also, if your looking for a secluded getaway hike, avoid Cecret Lake. It’s certainly not a secret! It’s more like Grand Am Central Station. We probably saw 100 other hikers on the trail when we hiked on Saturday. When we tried this hike again on a weekday, we saw fewer hikers, but it was still busy, and every parking spot was taken.
Despite the traffic, we did see some wildlife. The boys chased squirrels and chipmunks, a yellow-bellied marmot sunned itself on a rock near us, and a hummingbird flitted about the meadow. Most interesting of all was the wildlife at the lake. In the water were tiger salamander larvae. They looked like a cross between toads and salamanders with frilly “hairs” all around their necks. Our boys spent awhile watching them. Lots of people tell us they have seen moose on this trail, so keep your eyes open. We saw deer, but no moose on this trail. We have seen moose in this canyon on the Snowbird Observation Point Trail.
The lake is beautiful, but wading and swimming are forbidden because Cecret Lake is a main source of Salt Lake’s drinking water. We liked this hike, and though our 3 year-old had to be carried much of the way, we’d do it again. The trail does climb up to the lake, but if you take it slow, we saw lots of young kids making it to Cecret Lake. Right at the end, you will climb up a few switchbacks and this is where there are lots of rocks and shale, so watch your little ones here.
Take Little Cottonwood Canyon road to the very end. You will come to a booth where the pavement ends. The summer road begins here and is dirt. You’ll follow it for 2.5 miles to the end and Cecret Lake parking is here. The Summer Road opens near the beginning of July. You will want to check when it’s open or you will end up hiking the 2.5 miles of dirt road to get to the trailhead.