FIELD TEST FRIDAY: ALTA WILDFLOWERS
Alta Resort in Utah is typically known for its world class powder skiing. However, during the summer months, there's a short window of time where the Albion Basin in the Town of Alta explodes with color with amazing blooming wildflowers, making for unbelievable day hikes for all abilities.
Alta is a short drive from downtown SLC up Little Cottonwood Canyon. With a population just shy of 400, weekday outings are extremely mellow and most of the time, trails are empty making for an extremely enjoyable day trip.
With over 15 miles of hiking trails that wind throughout the Albion Basin, Cecret Lake, the Devils Castle or even up and over to Lake Catherine, which is situated right in between the Alta and Brighton Ski Area boundaries. There is no shortage of options.
Summer in Alta officially begins on July 4th and runs through September, weather permitting. While there are small dirt parking lots up higher on the summer road in the Albion Basin, the best (and free) place to park is at the Wildcat Base.
As mentioned above, the summertime bloom takes place making the end of Little Cottonwood Canyon one of the most vibrant areas of the Wasatch Range for a period of time. On top of being a wildflower mecca, the Town of Alta has 360 degree breathtaking views. From Mount Superior, Sugarloaf Peak, Mount Wolverine to the Devils Castle, the end of Little Cottonwood Canyon is a definite summertime bucket list item.
Wild flowers aren't the only wild things you will see while hiking around Alta. The Albion Basin is famous for being home to countless moose. While moose are amazing creatures to witness in the wild, make sure to give them plenty of space as they can be a bit moody from time to time. On top of moose, you can see deer, fox, coyotes and while it's few and far between, there have even been bear sightings in the area.
When hiking and enjoying time outdoors in Little Cottonwood Canyon, please be mindful that dogs are prohibited in the canyon. LCC is a protected watershed that provides drinking water to SLC residents. Also be advised, there is an $8 amenity fee per car when driving the summer road. The fees help with road maintenance, bathrooms, trail care, parking lots, trash removal and more.
From an equipment standpoint, trails in the Town of Alta are moderate and fairly short. Most of which can be done in an hour or two. However, make sure to bring plenty to drink as the altitude can be a factor for some. Basic snacks and drinks can be found at the Wildcat Basecamp in the Wildcat parking lot. Hours for the Basecamp are 11am to 5pm weekdays and 10am to 7pm weekends and holidays.
A sturdy pair of hiking boots are recommended, however, a nice pair of trail shoes for sneakers work fine for the Albion Basic trail system. A small pack, a lightweight jacket and a walking stick or trekking poles come in handy as well.
And that's about it. Make sure to visit www.alta.com or follow them on Instagram at @altaskiarea to stay up to date on what's happening in the canyon. Enjoy your summer at altitude!