Dog Lake is a beautiful little pond, tucked under the ridge of Clayton Peak. The hike is scenic and easy. Your reward for this easy little jaunt through the woods is astonishing views that are unavailable to the automobile-bound. Despite the name, dogs are not allowed at Dog Lake via Brighton. If you want to take your four-footed hiking buddy up, you’ll have to go through Mill Creek Canyon.
What Makes It Great
The first bit of the hike is steep and not very interesting—keep going. You’ll cross under the Majestic ski lift and start up into an old coniferous forest. The trail takes you along the edge of the mountain, and the views of Big Cottonwood to your right are one-of-a-kind. .75 miles up the trail, you’ll find a rocky overlook of Brighton and a trail marker. Dog Lake splits off to the left—it’s only about 500 feet from the overlook.
The meadow and boulders around the lake are a great place to have a picnic or even a photo shoot. But do be mindful because the lake is part of the Salt Lake City Watershed. Be sure to leave no trace—take out everything you take in. In high summer, the hike will be buggy; mosquitos are really bad around the lake. And later in the season, towards the end of fall, snow and ice are possible on the trail. This is also a fun little snowshoe hike in winter—check in with the Visitor Center before taking off.
If you're looking for picnic food to take with you, try the Seventh Street Harmons. Harmons is a local grocery chain, started by the Harmon brothers. They make a lot of treats in-house, like fresh pizza, sushi, salads, sandwiches, soups, trail mixes, and gummy bears. For lunch or dinner on the way back down the canyon, we’d recommend the Silver Fork Lodge. It’s a Salt Lake favorite and an absolute requirement for Brighton and Solitude skiers at least 3 or 4 times a season.
Who is Going to Love It
Dog Lake is a beautiful spot and anyone with an interest in the outdoors will love it.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Dog Lake is easy to get to from Salt Lake City. Just take Wasatch Boulevard to the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon and follow the canyon all the way to the top—it’s about 15 miles. You’ll pass Solitude Ski Resort on your right. You’ve arrived (as they say in Hollywood) when you’re driving the one-way loop around Brighton Resort. Park in the largest parking lot in front of the Visitor Center and angle to the left of the building to find the trailhead. It’s easy to spot—it’s marked with a map kiosk. Parking is plentiful and free, and the lot can be accessed any time of day.
Note: There are actually two “Dog Lakes” in Big Cottonwood Canyon. The other hike, which is a spur off of the Mill D North Fork Trail, is documented on RootsRated in the snowshoe section under “Mill D North Fork Trail.”