Looking to mix things up, I decided to actually walk up and down a mountain (yeah, hard to believe). I give my friend a hard time for always walking up and down mountains–especially in Winter, but I actually did it and had a great time to boot.

Last weekend was my 6th anniversary, so I arranged for a babysitter in the morning (takes some wrangling to get anyone to watch our 4 hooligans) so my wife and I could step into the Wasatch for a morning hike. The destination was Sunset Peak at the convergence of Big Cottonwood, Little Cottonwood and American Fork Canyons and an excellent vantage point to see the Wasatch and Uintah’s unfold before your eyes.

Starting at the Sunnyside parking lot in Albion Basin at Alta, the trail meanders to Catherine’s Pass and then catches the ridgeline to Sunset Peak. The entire trail is straightforward and well-marked without anything technical to speak of. The only caveats to that is a section of sand as you approach the ridgeline saddle just before Sunset Peak (not technical, just not much fun) and a few exposed areas as you approach the summit.

At a moderate pace, you can make it to the summit in only 1.5 hours. If you are toting kids or are faint of heart, you can enjoy the views from Catherine’s Pass and opt not to continue to Sunset Peak, however, the climb to Sunset doesn’t take long and is well worth it for not too much more effort.

From Catherine’s pass, the trail does take a turn for the steep as it takes no prisoners on its nearly-vertical path. At that point, my Merrell Outbound boots were a tad stiff and I wished I had something a little more flexible for this steep of terrain. However, it wasn’t that big of a deal. Overall, this trail is suitable for light hikers or trail runners if you’re not carrying much of a load.

Here are a handful of pictures of the hike up Sunset Peak:

Sunset Peak Trail from Alta - Towards Catherine's Pass

Sunset Peak Trail to Catherine's Pass - Alta Utah

Lakes Catherine, Martha and Mary from the Saddle of Sunset Peak

Summit of Sunset Peak, Utah - Lakes Catherine, Martha and Mary in Background

View of Mt. Superior from Sunset Peak, Utah - Looking Northwest

Sunset Peak - View of Mt. Timpanogos to Southwest

Climbing Sunset Peak Details – From Sunnyside Lot at Alta, Utah

Distance: 2.25 miles
Vertical: 1,658 ft
Summit Elevation: 10,529 ft
Roundtrip Time: Approx. 3 hours at moderate pace
Water: Yes, small streams in Catherine’s Basin suitable for pumping water

About Author

A native of the Pacific Northwest, Jason quickly developed a love for the outdoors and a thing for mountains. That infatuation continues as he founded this site in 1999 -- sharing his love of road biking, mountain biking, trail running and skiing. That passion is channeled into every article or gear review he writes. Utah's Wasatch Mountains are his playground.

1 Comment

  1. Highly recommend the moderate afternoon hike for most people, but only from late Spring to early Fall. Good facilities at the trailhead during those months. Slippery when wet. Breathtaking views.

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