Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Brighton Bowl Hike - A Family Favorite

As we tick off our hiking miles, yesterday's hike around the Brighton bowl was 6.5 miles putting our family at 37 miles out of 100 hiked. We are getting closer to our summer family goal with every step:) The boys are most excited about getting big root beer floats from Silver Fork restaurant when we hit 50.

This is one of my favorite hikes in Big Cottonwood Canyon. It is one that usually will not appear in a hiking book because the first portion is cross country (no trail) and steep. The steep factor is not far so don't let that scare you off. We seldom see anyone on the majority of this hike...which is great on busier days.

Great Western Lift on right and water mine on the left
The hike starts under the Great Western Ski Lift at Brighton Ski Resort. Follow the lift to the second hill you can see (there is a 3rd hill, but you will follow the gentle slope of the ski run to the right instead of up and over the last hill). You will know you are on the right track if you pass a water mine on the right. The 2nd hill where you stay right is the hill after the water mine.

Just finishing the hill and starting on the ski run
Follow the ski run through the meadow to the Snake Creek Chairlift. The kids always love to hop up on one of the chairs to rest.

Taking a rest on the lift
Off to the right of the ski lift you will see a service road. The hike continues up the service road. Follow this road for about 1/2 a mile until you come to the field where Brighton keeps about 20 snow making machines.
Just before we turn off onto the trail
Follow the road another 100 feet or so and you will find a trail that crosses the service road. Take the trail to the right where it leads you into the trees. This is my favorite portion of the hike.

Starting my favorite part of the trail
The trail exits the trees at Dog Lake. We always see moose at Dog Lake and yesterday was no exception. Can you find them in this photo?

Moose near Dog Lake...look hard
And they all gravitated to the top of the rock
Stay right on the trail and you will come to the main trail that leads to Lake Mary. To cut the hike short at this point follow that trail right and it will take you back to the base of the ski resort. To continue around the bowl however, turn left. You will cross a small stream and begin up the rocky trail.

The stream on the main Lake Mary trail
Watch carefully for the cut-off to Twin Lakes. It is marked by a small wooden sign. Follow this trail to the right. The trail gets rocky at this point but is still easy to follow. You know you are on the right track when you pass a building that looks like this...
Can we just sleep here?
Almost to Lake Mary
We stopped for lunch at the top of this hill where we could overlook Lake Mary and sit on some of the big rocks to eat.

Wow! What a view.
Time for lunch
After a snack or lunch, continue on this trail. This is another beautiful portion of the hike as it takes you through more trees and across a rock field. It eventually comes out above Twin Lakes. Follow the service road down the steep hill and then continue straight until you see the trail. At this point, take care to follow the single track trail and not the rocky service road. It stays just to the left of the road and is much nicer to hike on.

On the single-track trail heading down to Silver Lake
This trail continues down the mountain and comes to a beautiful view of Silver Lake. Pass over the boulder field and the trail splits left or right. I prefer the trail that stays left because it goes through Aspen trees, is quieter and is less traveled. Either way you choose to go lands you on the Solitude Lake trail. Take a right and follow it until you reach Silver Lake and the boardwalk.

Stop by the visitor's center if it is open for some fun activities for the kids.
To get back to your car at the Brighton Ski Resort parking lot, follow the main road going right.