The road through this nearly straight glacial valley ascends 5,500 feet in 11 miles. Splendid peaks rise to more than 11,000 feet on both sides of the canyon. In winter and spring, challenging terrain attracts skiers to Snowbird  and Alta  ski areas.
Enter Little Cottonwood Canyon from the junction of Highway 209 and Highway 210, four miles south of the entrance to Big Cottonwood Canyon .
Granite rock for the Salt Lake Temple  came from quarries one mile up the canyon on the left. Here, too, are the Granite Mountain Record Vaults, containing genealogical and historical records of the LDS Church stored on millions of rolls of microfilm. Neither site is open to the public.
Before heading up for a hike in Little Cottonwood Canyon, make sure that your dog is not along for the trip. Because this heavily used canyon is part of the Salt Lake City watershed, environmental regulations prohibit pets, even in the car.
These trails lead to pretty alpine lakes. Red Pine and Maybird Gulch lie in the Lone Peak Wilderness (www.fs.fed.us/r4/wcnf/ , see the Dromedary Peak 7.5-minute topo map). All three trails begin from the same trailhead, and then diverge into separate valleys. On any one of them, you'll enjoy wildflowers and superb high-country scenery. This whole area is heavily used by hikers, so take great care with the environment. Please follow the Forest Service regulation that prohibits wood fires within one mile of the lakes.
Start from White Pine Trailhead (elev. 7,700 feet), 5.3 miles up the canyon and one mile beyond Tanners Flat Campground. The trail crosses a bridge over Little Cottonwood Creek and contours west, then southwest to White Pine Fork. The effects of several avalanches can be seen along this section. The trails divide after one mile, just before crossing White Pine Fork; turn sharply left for White Pine Lake or continue straight across the stream for Red Pine Lake and Maybird Gulch. Red Pine Trail contours around a ridge, then parallels Red Pine Fork to the lake (elev. 9,680 feet)—a beautiful deep pool ringed by conifers and alpine meadows. Energetic hikers can rock-scramble along the stream another one-half mile (no trail) to Upper Red Pine Lake. The upper lake sits in a glacial cirque devoid of trees. Trout lurk in the waters, though the lake may remain frozen until late June. Maybird Gulch Trail begins two miles up Red Pine Trail from White Pine Fork and leads to tiny Maybird Lakes. From the trailhead, White Pine Lake is 3.5 miles (2,300-foot elevation gain), Red Pine Lake is the same (1,920-foot elevation gain), and Maybird Lakes are 4.5 miles (2,060-foot elevation gain).
These trails give you the advantage of hiking just one-way from either the top or bottom by using the Snowbird  tram. From the top of Hidden Peak (elev. 11,000 feet), the trail crosses open rocky country on the upper slopes and spruce- and aspen-covered ridges lower down, then follows an old mining road down Peruvian Gulch. Elevation change along the 3.5-mile trail is 2,900 feet. The Dromedary Peak 7.5-minute topo map covers this area.
It's a lovely 1.5-mile hike to Catherine Pass (900-foot elevation gain) and just under five miles to Brighton. After the big parking area just past the Snowpine Lodge, the road turns to dirt; follow it another two miles to a trailhead for Catherine Pass.
At the end of the road past Snowpine Lodge is the Albion Basin Campground and Cecret Lake Trail, which climbs glacier-scarred granite slopes to a pretty alpine lake (elev. 9,880 feet) below Sugarloaf Mountain. Wildflowers put on colorful summer displays along the way. The trail is just one mile long and makes a good family hike; elevation gain is 360 feet. Continue another mile for fine views south to Mount Timpanogos from Germania Pass.
Tanners Flat Campground (with water, mid-May-mid-Oct., $12) is 4.3 miles up the Little Cottonwood Canyon at an elevation of 7,200 feet. Albion Basin Campground (with water, late June-mid-Sept., $13) lies 11 miles up the road, near the head of the canyon, at an elevation of 9,500 feet (the last 2.5 miles are gravel road). Both campgrounds accept reservations (877/444-6777, www.recreation.gov; $9 reservation fee).