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Desolation Lake

Salt Lake City

Wasatch Backcountry

This is a lovely moderate hike through some large aspen groves reaching a quiet little lake.

Hiking Moderate

12 km
606 m
606 m
3-4 hrs
Low Point
2.2 km
High Point
2.8 km
Desolation Lake Map

The Desolation Lake trail is almost 8 miles roundtrip with 2,000 feet of elevation gain. Its a moderate/easy trail through some shady aspen and pine forests leading to a small and quiet lake tucked at the base of the Wasatch Crest. This is a popular trail that sees both hiking and biking traffic in both directions so stay aware.


To access the trail, drive 9 miles up Big Cottonwood Canyon and park at the Spruces Campground parking on the south side of the road. Cross back over the highway to the north and follow the paved road into the small cabin community. Stay on the main cabin road which turns left about a half mile in. There is a closed gate on the left side of the road; continue past this gate and onto the trail.

This trail parallels the creek and then crosses over it to the west and continues up the canyon. You'll come to a divide in the trail; take the right fork toward Desolation Lake. The trail climbs through some aspen groves and gently gains elevation until it reaches the lake nestled at the base of the Wasatch Crest.



Hiking along trails with some uneven terrain and small hills. Small rocks and roots may be present.

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area