Unlike most Wasatch summits, Sunset Peak is a relatively easy day hike offering outstanding 360-degree views of the Wasatch Mountains and surrounding areas. At just 4.2 miles round-trip with 1,256’ of elevation gain, this hike is suitable for most healthy adults. More experienced children may also enjoy this trail, however extreme caution should be used near steep drops and exposed ledges on the final approach to Sunset Peak.
The hike to Sunset Peak begins at the Catherine Pass Trailhead (40.582903, -111.618494), located in Albion Basin near the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon. To reach the trailhead from I-215 in Salt Lake City:
NOTE: There is very limited parking at the trailhead and no parking is allowed along the road nearby. Arrive early and carpool if possible to get a spot. On busy weekends, a free shuttle is often available from Alta to the Catherin Pass and Cecret Lake Trailheads.
- Take Exit 6 for 6200 S/Wasatch Blvd.
- Drive south on Wasatch Blvd. for 3.9 miles.
- Bear left onto UT-210/Little Cottonwood Canyon Road and continue up the canyon 12.7 miles
- After passing Alta Ski Resort, the paved road ends. Continue up the dirt road another 1.9 miles to the signed Catherine Pass Trailhead. The dirt road is suitable for passenger cars in dry conditions.
From the Catherine Pass Trailhead, cross the gravel road and begin hiking on the signed Catherine Pass Trail. Take note that the actual distance to the pass is 1.5 miles, not 1.0 mile as indicated on one of the two signs near the parking area.
Hike up the trail as it passes through granite outcroppings and a few ski lifts that are out of operation in the summer. Soon the trail becomes a bit more strenuous as you work your way toward Catherine Pass. A dazzling array of wildflowers adorns the trail throughout the summer months.
After about 0.8 miles, the trail takes a hard turn to the left at an unsigned junction. Continue hiking as it climbs a steep hill into a meadow before arriving at the final climb to Catherine Pass (40.580739, -111.598631).
Once on top of Catherine Pass, you will have your first good view of Sunset Peak. It is the prominent peak to the right, towering above Catherine Lake below. On a busy day, you may be able to see other hikers on top or working their way up the ridge.
To reach the summit of Sunset Peak, turn right at Catherine Pass onto the Great Western Trail. Continue hiking as the trail climbs around the backside of the ridge leading to Sunset Peak. After about one third of a mile, the trail levels out at a pass. From here the Great Western Trail begins to descend into the valley ahead. Turn left here onto the trail leading directly out onto the ridge separating you from Sunset Peak. The trail is well worn but has some very steep and exposed edges.
Approximately 0.6 miles from Catherine Pass, the trail reaches the summit of Sunset Peak at 10,648’ above sea level (40.577028, -111.593664). The top of the peak is large enough for a handful of people to sit and take in the 360-degree views of the surrounding Wasatch Mountains. Amongst the sights are all three of the Brighton Lakes; Mary, Martha and Catherine, arranged in a line directly to the north. To the southeast the cities of Heber and Midway are visible in the distance. And to the west you can see some of the ski lifts at Alta and Snowbird, including the top of the aerial tram on Hidden Peak.
Return the way you came. Round trip hiking distance from the Catherine Pass trailhead is approximately 4.2 miles with 1,256 feet.
Permits & Regulations
- No dogs allowed.
- No swimming.
- No camping within 200 feet of trails and water sources.