Lake Catherine from Brighton Resort

Sunday I hiked to Lakes Mary and Catherine via Brighton Resort at the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon.

This is a short, but difficult climb gaining 1200 ft in a little over 2 miles to get all the way to Lake Catherine. You will run into Lake Mary first, but I wanted to get more mileage in so I passed Mary and proceeded to Catherine.

To do this trail, park at Brighton Ski Resort at the very top of Big Cottonwood Canyon. Near the top you will be directed to a one-way loop, follow around until you see the Brighton Lodge. Pull into the parking lot and park near the Crest Express Chairlift. The trail head will be just to the right of the lodge.

Trail Head Sign

The trail head sign will give you some information about the trail ahead, but I have found the distances to be a little off. It’s a little more than 1 mile to Mary and a little more than 2 to Catherine. From the trail head you will proceed straight up the side of the mountain. Follow the signs for Lake Mary.

View Along the Trail to Lake Mary


There’s a helpful sign a little over halfway to Lake Mary, so keep an eye out for it to keep you going the right direction. The distance estimates on these signs are not exactly accurate, as I mentioned before. This sign is more than halfway to Lake Mary even though it says otherwise.


Just before you reach Lake Mary you will come across a patch of trail that has a stream cutting across it. Depending on the time of year it may be more dry than this. It’s only a short wet patch but can be slick, so be cautious!

Lake Mary

Lake Mary is about the halfway point between the trail head and Lake Catherine. I have done this hike in the past, but never tried to run it. I will say there was a lot more walking/hiking up than any actual running because it is pretty steep. As I mentioned before it is 1200 ft elevation gain! I still tried to move my body as fast as I could, but it took me around 45 minutes to go the two miles to Lake Catherine.

Fork in the Trail

When you are almost to Lake Catherine you will reach another fork in the trail. To the left takes you directly to the lake. To the right continues up to Catherine’s Pass: another quarter mile uphill climb that will put you up above the lake looking down. It also connects with Catherine’s Pass trail over to Little Cottonwood Canyon. So if you are feeling strong and want to continue your hiking, the opportunity is there.

I chose to go to Lake Catherine as my final destination for this hike/trail

Both Lake Mary and Lake Catherine are beautiful. My only regret is not having more time to sit and enjoy the peacefulness of the lakes. If you do this hike, give yourself ample time to rest and enjoy the lake before you turn back, you won’t regret it.


In contrast to the hike up, the run back down was only 30 minutes. There was still a good amount of walking down because it is steep enough that I didn’t feel confident running. There’s also some tricky parts that are slick with the stream running over rocks on the trail. Still, shaving 15 minutes off of a two mile distance should give you some indication of how steep this hike is.


  • Route: Lake Mary and Lake Catherine via Brighton Resort Trail Head
  • Distance: 4.5 miles (roughly)
  • Time: 1 hour 15 minutes (running and walking, no breaks)

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