Difficulty: More Difficult ◼︎◼︎
Length: 9 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 2,200 feet
Dog Friendly: No
Trailhead coordinates (copy + paste): 40.5753, -111.6812
Directions: The coordinates will bring you to a mid-sized parking lot in Little Cottonwood Canyon. This trailhead also allows access to White Pine Lake and some other nearby hikes, so on a busier day you may need to park along the road. Walk past the bathrooms and across the broken bridge. After a mile you will reach a fork where you can turn to White Pine Lake, but instead of turning keep going up along the river. You will reach a bridge a few steps later—cross it, and follow the trail all the way to the lake.
One of the most undeniably beautiful places in the area, the Red Pine Lake trail takes you on a scenic journey through groves of tall trees and along a river before reaching a turquoise blue alpine lake surrounded by steep, rocky peaks. The first half of this hike enjoys a decent amount of shade while gaining elevation at a mild pace. Around the time that the path bends South and opens up to big views over Little Cottonwood Canyon, the trees turn from aspen to pine and the trail becomes steep and rocky. Before long, the path nears Red Pine Fork, a beautiful creek, and continues to climb until reaching the main lake.
To add some miles onto your hike and escape the crowds on a busier day, continue to the far side of the lake and head up the steep, narrow path that leads into the pine trees. This trail will bring you to three smaller lakes know as the Upper Red Pine Lakes, the smallest of which tends to dry up in the late season due to its small volume. A sharp right turn onto the boulder fields from the upper lakes leads to Pfiefferhorn, a pyramid-shaped peak which looms on the ridgeline just out of view from Red Pine Lake. Dogs are not allowed in Little Cottonwood Canyon, so they won't be able to join you for this one.