White Pine Lake Trail (Little Cottonwood Canyon)

July 20, 2012 hike

If you are a friend of mine on Facebook, you know that I went on a hike yesterday. I do believe that I will say for all intents and purposes  we climbed a mountain.  I have several pictures to show you. And a little advice to boot.

We took plenty of water, a first aid kit, and both had on hiking shoes. Granted different kinds of footwear. We took Long sleeved thermal shirts in-case it was too chilly, had on long jeans, and bought sandwiches to eat once we got to White Pine Lake. We let Alex (Mary’s husband know that where we were going to be hiking, and we would stay in contact with him as long as we had cell service; also if it was more than 8 hours since the last time he hears from us to try to find us. I also wrote down my find my iPad information just in-case.  The iPad went in one of the back packs. Mary carried the food and water, while I carried cameras and that equipment.

We arrived at the trail head at 07:48 MST. That’s 08:48 in Texas.


We started pretty well. Moving well, we had seen the first part of the trail the day before. We saw the same landmarks and greenery. The only difference is the sky was not overcast.The sky was the most gorgeous blue, and only had a few clouds dotting it. A glorious sight indeed.

It’s hard to for me to actually describe the pictures I took, except to say that God is great. The views we saw cannot possibly paralleled by anything man made.

This picture was taken close of the beginning of the hike, easy right?

The trail covers various types of terrain, from what you see above, being nearly void of rocks, to being absolutely covered with rocks. It takes you through some beautiful meadows and crosses Little Cottonwood Creek

once and takes you near the creek again when you get to the junction with Red Pine Lake Trail.
They say that if you cross the creek this second time you have gone the wrong way.
The junction point is well signed, and if we could navigate it, I think you could as well.DSC_0067

We never really got off the trail. It was very visible. It is actually a well traversed trail. We passed…umm…well were passed by several groups of hikers, 3 joggers/runners, and one guy on a mountain bike; Who told us he thought he was in over his head.DSC_0095

Everyone who passed us going up passed us on their way down. We were taking our time. Which is a piece of advice; take your time and go at your own pace. I can’t imagine trying to travel all 9 miles in the 4 hours we saw on hiking websites.

On the way up, I would say we averaged about a mile an hour. Not all that bad, considering we going up. We started out at 7,684 feet above sea level at the highest point, we made it to 9,849 feet above sea level (according to my Nike+ app). The goal was to make it all the way to White Pine Lake. I started having difficulty breathing due to the thin air at some point near where we turned around, though I couldn’t pin point the exact position. We saw the last “lip” as we called it, and could see where the trail disappeared over it. I looked at Mary, and said, “NO, I can’t go any farther, not up that”. And she agreed. We began our decent at that point.

That last mile up, was our slowest, coincidentally enough that very same mile down was our fastest. We stopped about an hour so after turning around and ate our sandwiches and rested. We had quite the view for lunch, I won’t complain.

We were so very tired and exhausted at this point, I think the majority of our conversation with each other stopped except to check on the other every once in a while to make sure she was still behind or standing and hadn’t fallen over.

A pair of ladies whom had stopped to talk to us on our way up, stopped back on their (and our) way down told us that it was very smart to turn around and not push ourselves beyond our limit. Which I am quite positive that if we didn’t we were very near that point at the time we turned around. Now, this was our first “real” hike on a mountain trail. The trails I have been down in Texas don’t come near rivaling this “easy” trail. It had some very (for a novice-beginner) steep ascents and at the end it seemed that every time an ascent started, the trail became rock covered.

Now there is a point that was about 1.35 miles from the trail head that I want to tell you about. It’s about .35 miles from the junction with Red Pine Trail. You can see the Utah Valley.
It was wonderful to see in person, I’m afraid this picture doesn’t do it justice.

We were very disappointed that we didn’t get to see the lake, the pictures and posts online described it as beautiful. We really wanted to see it. Looking back a day later, I have say it’s a good thing that we turned back when we did. I’m not sure we would have made it out with out one of us being hurt. If you ever go on a hike without much experience be sure and don’t go alone, and make sure someone not going with  you knows where you are going to be, and have a communication plan of some kind. We kept in touch with Mary’s husband whenever cell service would let us, which wasn’t much. Even that little bit was better than nothing.

Be sure to have a plan if the weather does something other than the forecast. We never touched our thermal shirts, but we had them, nonetheless.  I mentioned that I had my iPad with me, that meant that I also had a solar powered back up battery, that I could use to charge my or Mary’s Phones, if the batteries died.

Be sure your shoes fit correctly and that you know the trail conditions you will have to endure. Know your trail route, have a map with you as well.

We drank just about two and a half liters of water each, I don’t think were very dehydrated, I do think we probably should have drunk more than that in the nine miles we traveled.

I’ll leave you with some of the other photos I took:

All in all I had a great time on the hike. Mine and Mary’s bodies are quite sore, and we are being punished, so to speak, for pushing our limits a little. The hike was well worth it for the views we got to see.

Feel free to post any other advice for beginner hikers in the replies below.

7 thoughts on “White Pine Lake Trail (Little Cottonwood Canyon)

    1. The point at which the Cottonwood Trail meets the White Rock Creek Trail was nearly ipassamble today (Saturday, 10/13). At this point, one must drive to White Rock Lake and avoid White Rock Creek Trail all together. How much more of the trail are they going to be working on? When will the trail be open and without barriers and detours and complete closures?

      1. I am sorry to hear that the trail wa s impassible. I don’t live there and have only been on the trail twice so I couldn’t even begin to speculate on when the work will be completed on the trails. Perhaps there is a website that lists the work that is still in progress and pending?

  1. Sounds like y’all had fun. Nothing wrong with finding your limits, and very wise to recognize when you had. Very well written and illustrated.

    1. those pictures make me so hosceimk for utah. i forget how beautiful the mountains are. i love that first one of the boys running up the trail. i need you to tell me how to get clear action shots on my canon. mine always come out blurry (i’m sure i’m doing something wrong)

      1. If you are standing still and trying to get a clear shot of something/someone who is moving, lets a running child. You can move the camera while taking the picture, following the object/child as they move across the scenery. The object in motion will be clear and the background might have a slight blur. But the actual action that is clear is why you are taking the photo anyway, right?

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