Sunset Peak is one of my favorites! It is a moderate hike that gives you views of four different lakes from the top!
This is the slightly longer and more challenging path to Sunset Peak, but you get to pass three or four lakes on your route, so I love this option. It is still moderate, it just has a bit more elevation gain and is 5.8 miles roundtrip as apposed to 4.o miles coming from Catherine’s pass. Here is the link to the shorter path.
The Brighton Lakes are Lakes Mary, Martha, and Catherine. Of course there are really other lakes at Brighton, like Silver Lake, Lake Solitude, Twin Lakes and Dog Lake, but this hike passes the first three I mentioned, plus an option to Dog Lake. If you want to do a loop of even more lakes and peaks, click here.
You begin at the top of the Brighton Loop next to the Lodge and head up the gravel path. Shortly after it turns into a dirt path that switches back and forth under the ski lifts.
It is moderate, but there isn’t much shade, so plan accordingly. This is the hardest part of the whole hike, so don’t get discouraged.
Near the end, after you get more into the pines the trail heads off to the right. You will see a sign that shows the tiny detour to Dog Lake. It is more of a pond, but since it doesn’t add much time, it’s still worth a stop if you have time.
Return back to the path and continue up to Lake Mary, the real show-stopper! If you are here in June-September, you will probably see wildflowers along the path.
Don’t forget to look behind you for views too!
Sometimes that last section walking up has a bit of water along the trail, but nothing you can’t step over.
Soon you will get to picturesque Lake Mary. It is big and beautiful! It looks a little different each time depending on the sky.
To get up to Lake Martha, you will need to follow the trail on the close side of the lake. There is one part that you have to kind of climb up the rocks, but it is super short and most kids could do it with help. As you get above Lake Mary, you can look back and still see it.
Often there is snow between Lakes Mary and Martha even when it has melted most other places, so be prepared, especially if it’s before the 4th of July. The trail here is a little bit hard to follow. It looks like there are two trails, one that veers off to the right between the lakes and one that goes mostly straight. Take the straight one. Lake Martha is much smaller than Lake Mary. It looks more like a pond, but it’s still a great place. It looks prettier when you look down on it from above.
The trail heads up the hill and then switches back and then heads again up to get to Lake Catherine. Once I saw a few deer on this section and often see squirrels or chipmunks.
You can also look over to the left after the switchback and see Dog Lake.
Last time we hiked it we saw marmots.
Continue up the path.
Lake Catherine is a beautiful lake, even though it’s a smaller lake too.
Be sure to walk around the lake for some amazing views!
This photo below shows Sunset Peak towering above Catherine. You will need to follow the path on the downhill side of the lake back a tiny bit and then up the hill towards Catherine’s Pass. If you hike it from Little Cottonwood Canyon, you will meet at this point. The second photo is looking back at Catherine from that point,
To continue up Sunset Peak will add less than a half mile or you can head off to the right and summit Mt. Tuscarora or Mt. Wolverine, which are also short and moderate difficulty detours. From Mt. Wolverine you can see the lakes and also Twin Lakes.
Head up the path to Sunset peak. It always surprises me how sandy this section of the trail is. It isn’t precarious or scrambling like some other peaks. It’s just a trail that goes clear to the top!
As you hike up be sure to look at the different views you get of the lakes below.
From the top you can also look over into Heber or towards Little Cottonwood Canyon to Mount Superior.
Distance – 5.8 miles there and back (6.0 with Dog Lake)
Approximate hiking time – 2-3 hours
Elevation gain – 1,975 feet
Difficulty – Moderate
Trail – well maintained trail of dirt and rocks,
Bathrooms – At Trailhead
Seasons to hike – June-October
Permits needed – None
Pets allowed – None