|Elevation Gain||1,227 ft|
|My Time||2 hr 15 min|
|Food Nearby||Wasatch Brew Pub|
Brighton Lakes Trail
The Brighton Lakes trail, which includes Dog Lake, Mary Lake and continues on to Lakes Martha and Catherine, is a somewhat challenging hike with over 1000 feet of elevation gain. It does feature three (and a half) nice mountain lakes but it might be a bit tough for some people. The trail is best in the summer and dogs are not allowed.
The Brighton Lakes trail begins at the Brighton Ski Lodge. There is a large parking lot but the trail isn’t too obvious. You have to walk between the two buildings up the hill a bit and that is where you will find the sign.
Once you find the sign it is time to hike pretty much straight up a ski slope. Yup. I have done some steep hills in my day but most of them have a series of switchbacks to take you around. On the Brighton Lakes Trail it is more of just a walk right up the middle!
This first bit up the ski slope is about a half mile long and covers just under 400 feet of elevation gain. The grades are consistently in the 11-15% range and I took plenty of breaks. As you get higher up it is nice to look back and see the valley views and the surrounding peaks.
Once you get towards the top of the hill the trail will take a turn to the east and head towards Lake Mary. The trail will also give you a bit of a break on the elevation. Before long you will come to a junction to Dog Lake, which I took because it looked flat!
Dog Lake was a bit of a let down but, as Bob Ross would say, it was just a happy accident. The trip over to dog lake is really short and easy. It’s just a tenth of a mile with no elevation. The problem was, Dog Lake was pretty much dried up when we got there.
The “lake” was more of a large puddle and some marsh. I was on the trail in August so that might be a little late in the season to get much more out of the lake or it could just be a small lake to begin with. Either way it was a nice chance to catch some breath and see a nice clearing that led to a rocky peak.
After a bit of a disappointment at Dog Lake, Lake Mary was as nice as advertised. Lake Mary is the biggest of the lakes that I saw and is shaped a bit like a boot. The water pushes right up the base of of a rocky peak and has some small rocks popping out of the water. It was a calm day and the water and setting were extremely peaceful.
Lake Mary has a good amount of shoreline and it is where most of the groups were stopping to take in the view and enjoy a bit of a break after the tough uphill. The trail follows the lake for about a quarter of a mile before heading for a short journey to Lake Martha for those continuing on.
Lake Martha is like the middle child of the three lakes. Oft forgotten or skipped over but clearly the best. (I might be biased as a middle child!) Martha is visible from the trail and is the smallest of the three lakes. To get close to the lake you have to take a short, connecting trail. This step, and the fact that you can see it pretty well keeps a few people away from Martha
There isn’t a great path right next to the water at Martha but there is a nice rocky area that gets you really close to the water. I really enjoyed this one because nobody was there. It was a bit more relaxing than the other two lakes even though you couldn’t get quite as close.
When you are done enjoying Lake Martha, head back up to the main trail and head south towards your final destination, Lake Catherine!
The last lake on this tour was Lake Catherine. Catherine is a bit further away from Lake Martha than Martha was from Lake Mary. It will also get a bit steep again. The last lake is seven tenths of a mile away and you will have to incline around 300 feet of elevation. There are some nice views and some high altitude meadows between the two lakes but my favorite view was looking back down to the lakes below.
Lake Catherine has two ways to approach. The trail will split near some juniper bushes about a tenth of a mile from the lake. The left trail will take you to the north edge of the lake while the right trail will take you around the lake to the southern side access from a series of short connector trails. I went to the northern part of the lake.
The north side led to a rocky area that you can sit and enjoy a bit of an elevated view of the lake. There are rumors of trails that circle the whole lake but I didn’t see them. I was also tired so didn’t look too hard. The lake is really nice and is tucked into the mountain side. My Utah local guide told me there was good fishing in it too!
After that we headed back. While the trail started a bit rough going up the ski slope the lakes definitely made up for it. Having three lakes like this in the high country is always special and when I went they weren’t that crowded which led to some relaxing moments enjoying what nature had to offer.
I have put together this video of my hike to Lake Mary, Martha and Catherine. My lens was a bit fogged up but hopefully you will still get a good feeling of what the hike was like. This is a time lapsed version of the hike I like to call my Hikers Edit. If you enjoy this video, please subscribe to my YouTube Channel. It is free to subscribe and you will get notified for all the latest vieos.
Distance and Elevation
If you don’t have the AllTrails app you might want to check it out, I really love mine. It records your progress and is a great way to search for hikes that are nearby and gives you difficulty measurements. According to AllTrails today’s hike was around 4.89 miles and had a total elevation gain of about 1,227 feet including undulations. That put the high point at around 9,935 feet. I was also moving for a total of 2 hours and 15 minutes.
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This hike starts out pretty challenging. Essentially just walking straight up a ski slope. Plus, there aren’t really any switchbacks and it is just hiking right up a hill! So the elevation got me at the beginning and I needed to take a lot of breaks. Someone in better shape might not have as much of a problem but for others, make sure to take your time. As you get closer to the lakes it gets bit easier as well. I am ranking this as moderate because it does get a bit easier after the initial incline.
The trail starts with a dirt path which is in pretty good shape and easy to follow. As you get closer to the lakes the trail gets more rocky. There are even parts that you will need to walk across some rocks to clear a small creek. Overall the terrain is pretty good and the area is well used but I would still suggest some shoes or boots with some good grip.
The Lake Mary trail begins at the Brighton Ski area. It doesn’t really look like there is a trail there but as you walk up the hill from the parking lot you can see the trail start to to develop. There is plenty of parking but in the summers the lodge won’t always be open for bathrooms.
Wrapping up the Brighton Lakes Trail
The Brighton Lakes trail was a really enjoyable trail even it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting. When looking for a hike I saw the short mileage and forgot to check the elevation so thought this would be an easy hike. The elevation gain up ski slope proved that I was mistaken! It was a definite challenge to make it up the hill but it was so worth it in the end.
The lakes were beautiful and I really enjoyed them. I set out to just do Lake Mary but am glad that I did them all. They are all unique and offer a little something different in terms of views and crowds. If you can make it up the hill then I really think you will enjoy this hike to some amazing mountain lakes!
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