The town of Alta is nestled in the beautiful Wasatch Mountain only 28 miles from Salt Lake City. Surrounded by towering peaks, steep walled canyons, granite cliffs, secluded trails for hiking and biking, and miles of creeks, streams and high-altitude alpine lakes, Alta is near to some of the top fishing spots in Utah and the Wasatch Mountains.

Alta is renowned for its world-class skiing and perfect powder, but the glacial carved Little Cottonwood & Big Cottonwood Canyons offer an abundance of opportunity for anglers of all skill levels to wade the waters, hop the boulders, hike the trails to alpine lakes, and experience some of the best fishing in Utah, only minutes from Alta.

Utah’s Blue-Ribbon Waters near Alta

The world-famous Green River in Flaming Gorge, Weber River and Provo Rivers are premier blue-ribbon fisheries that offer an exceptional and highly rewarding fly-fishing experience. The Weber River and Provo River begin high in the Uinta Mountains – the Provo stretches for 80 miles into Utah Lake and the Weber offers 125 miles of world-class fishing waters connecting alpine lakes and emptying into the Great Salt Lake. These blue-ribbon tailwaters are teeming with brown trout, rainbow trout, large cutthroat, and a thriving population of mountain white fish with multiple access points and stretches for both beginners and expert anglers.

The best way to experience these world-famous blue ribbon rivers and trout streams is on a guided fly fishing adventure, our local river guides know all the secret stretches for prime fly-fishing near Alta.

Little Cottonwood Canyon

The headwaters of Little Cottonwood Creek are just south of Alta and the creek flows all the way through the canyon to the Jordan River in the Salt Lake Valley. There’s lots of tree coverage which makes for a challenging cast (all part of the fly-fishing fun!), but it’s a tranquil setting to boulder hop your way up the creek, cast your line in the deep pools, and reap good rewards. Now we make our way to the Little Cottonwood Canyon’s secluded (and well-stocked!) alpine lakes, all accessible on Alta’s hiking trails.

Cecret Lake

Trailhead: Albion Basin Campground

Distance: 1.8-mile out and back

The trail to Cecret Lake is one of Alta’s top hiking trails, and one of the most scenic trails for wildflowers in Alta! It’s an easy, short hike for both the kids and grandparents trailing under the ski lifts to a scenic alpine lake nestled beneath Sugarloaf Mountain. Cecret Lake is seasonally stocked and allows catch and release fishing.

Lake Mary, Lake Martha & Lake Catherine

Trailhead: Catherine Pass Trailhead near Albion Basin

Distance: 3.9-miles out and back

The Catherine Pass Trail near Alta climbs above Albion Basin up to Catherine Pass with spectacular views down the canyon, wildlife and wildflowers, and three scenic alpine lakes nestled below in the Big Cottonwood Canyon. Climbing down to the lakes, you’ll cross into the Big Cottonwood Canyon and come to Lake Catherine first stocked with healthy brook trout, then pass Lake Martha (the smallest of the lakes) and onto Lake Mary, the largest of the three lakes with an abundance of brook trout and large lake trout for prime alpine fly-fishing. These lakes can also be reached from trails near Brighton Ski Resort in Big Cottonwood Canyon.

Twin Lakes Reservoir

Trailhead: Twin Lakes Pass

Distance: 1.75 miles one way

The Twin Lakes Pass Trail begins across from Alta Lodge and continues on a relatively flat trail past abandoned mine tunnels, alpine meadows and through Grizzly Gulch to the top of Twin Lakes Pass, where you’re welcomed with views of the Wolverine Cirque and Twin Lakes Reservoir. The reservoir is nestled between the scenic canyons and is well stocked with Bonneville Cutthroat Trout and lots of small bait fish. Twin Lakes can also be reached from the Silver Lake Trailhead in Big Cottonwood Canyon.

White Pine, Red Pine & Upper Red Pine Lakes

Trailhead: White Pine Trailhead

Distance: 6.7 mile out and back

The trail from the White Pine Trailhead leads to more fishable lakes in Little Cottonwood Canyon and the Lone Peak Wilderness Area – White Pine Lake, Red Pine Lake, Upper Red Pine Lake, and Maybird Gulch (a little too far for a day fishing trip!). It’s a challenging adventure but worth the hike. White Pine, Red Pine and the Upper Red Pine Lake are set in a spectacular alpine setting, and all well-stocked with a healthy supply of Bonneville Cutthroat Trout.

Big Cottonwood Canyon

Big Cottonwood Canyon is worth a visit, even if only for the scenic drive through Wasatch Mountains! Big Cottonwood Creek runs the length of the canyon down to Solitude Mountain and Brighton Ski Resorts with several pull-outs, picnic areas and secluded spots to access the water for fly-fishing. Big Cottonwood Canyon tends to reap bigger rewards than Little Cottonwood Canyon with deep fishing pools teeming with brown trout, rainbow trout and common carp.

Florence, Blanche & Lillian Lakes

Trailhead: Mill B Trailhead

Distance: 3 miles one-way from trailhead

If you don’t want to adventure too far up the canyon, the Mill B Trailhead is only 4 miles from the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon and leads to three breathtaking alpine lakes in the Twin Peaks Wilderness – Lake Blanche, Lake Florence & Lake Lillian are backdropped by awe-inspiring views of Sundial Peak and well-stocked with brook trout.

Silver Lake & Lake Solitude

Trailhead: Silver Lake Trailhead

Silver Lake and Lake Solitude are nestled at the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon at Brighton Ski Resort and are the most popular fishing lakes in the Cottonwood Canyons – easily accessible, well-stocked with brook and rainbow trout, and surrounded by majestic mountain scenery. Silver Lake has a wheelchair accessible boardwalk above the wetlands and trails around the lake, a visitors area and picnic tables, and several fishing docks and access points around the lake. Stop by the visitors center for hiking maps and a wildflower guide for the spring and summer season, and tips on the best places to fish.

Silver Lake is the starting point for many trails leading to several alpine lakes for fishing including Twin Lakes, Brighton Lakes (Mary, Martha & Catherine) and the quieter shores of Lake Solitude. The trail has viewpoints overlooking the ski lodges, beautiful alpine forests and scenery, and a short climb up to Lake Solitude. This trail continues on to Twin Lakes.

Fishing License Regulations

Many of the streams, rivers and lakes in the Cottonwood Canyons are protected watersheds and a source of drinking water for the Salt Lake Valley. It is important to note these trails and alpine lakes are not pet-friendly, swimming is prohibited, and waders are required for entering the water.

As you near the ski resorts in the Little Cottonwood and Big Cottonwood Canyons, much of this land is private property. Please be aware of your surroundings and respect private property at all times.

A Utah fishing license is required for every angler 12 years and older and can be purchased at the push of a button on the Utah Hunting & Fishing App. If you’re visiting Alta in summer, June 12, 2022, is Free Fishing Day in Utah, so take advantage and book your bucket-list fishing vacation in Alta today!

Alta Chalets have been welcoming guests to the Little Cottonwood Canyon for over 30 years! Our selection of vacation rentals range from luxury slopeside condos for just the two of you to majestic mountain chalets for the whole crew! Your stay is enhanced with exceptional guest & concierge services, and our team is committed to creating a personalized vacation experience for our guests.