Brighton Ridge Traverse

Brighton Ridge (Clayton Peak to Sunset Peak)
8.5 miles RT
3200′ gain
3:46 for the loop
Route map

After Lone Peak the previous day, I took out my map of the Wasatch to find something not too remote that I could hike safely on my own, without too much elevation gain. Brighton Ridge fit the bill nicely.

Rolling up to Brighton at 7am, I was surprised by a bull moose in the parking lot!

Bull moose at the lodge

I started up the mountain on the main trail until reaching the turnoff right around Dog Lake – I took the trail toward Clayton Peak instead of continuing on to the lakes. I saw two more moose in the woods here – a calf and a cow. They ran off down the hill silently. For as awkward as moose are they are graceful and fast when in motion.

Barely visible cow and calf

After not too much longer I gained the saddle and saw a great view down the Wasatch Back over to the Park City side.

From the saddle below Clayton Peak

From here I followed the obvious cat track along the base of Clayton Peak until I found a climber’s trail marked by a cairn (a very nice trail at that). From there it was a breeze to my first peak of the day.

Lake on the backside of Clayton Peak
Looking over the pass to Little Cottonwood
Heber Valley

From here I continued back down the ridge until reaching the saddle and continuing very close to the ridge line the other direction toward Preston Peak. Sometimes there is a use trail, sometimes it is not obvious. Just keep following the ridge. Soon you’ll come to the very indistinct peak that is Preston Peak, although there is a plaque on top for some reason. I didn’t stay long and continued down the ridge.

Coming off Preston Peak

From here, the rest of the route is very scenic but not very challenging.

Moderate south slopes of Brighton Ridge

You’ll reach a saddle with another ski lift, then follow a use trail down the other side to Pioneer Ridge highpoint. Continue down one more saddle to reach the foot of Pioneer Peak. I ascended steeply following a climber’s trail to the top of Pioneer. To the north, Catherine Lake is clearly visible and you can hear the hikers below.

Lake Catherine, Lake Martha, Lake Mary, Dog Lake
Sunset (I think) from Pioneer

From there I just followed the west side of Pioneer down to Sunset Peak and scrambled up crappy, sandy rock to the top where I was surprised to see no one. Usually this peak is packed. This was my third visit to Sunset Peak and I enjoy the view for how little it is. I didn’t like the look of clouds forming to the West so I headed down without delay. I would have liked to have hit Tuscarora, Wolverine, and Millicent and then head back down that way, but I had already climbed Tuscarora and Wolverine and since the weather looked like it could turn it didn’t seem like a good idea today.

The lakes from Sunset Peak
Pioneer Peak above (I think) Lake Catherine

I dropped down the normal trail to Catherine Pass and headed down to the car at a quick pace. I saw my next moose of the day in the meadow below Lake Catherine – a big bull moose!

Bull moose below Lake Catherine

He wouldn’t leave the trail so I walked far around him and continued on my way. The rest of the trail down to the car was actually really nice. Lake Mary is scenic with Mount Millicent behind.

Lake Mary with Mount Millicent
Lake Mary
Wildflowers on the way down

The lower trail was quite crowded. Overall it was a nice quick, moderate hike. I didn’t see a soul from the turnoff near Dog Lake all the way until Catherine Pass, so expect to get away from the crowds on this route, particularly from the Clayton saddle to the summer of Pioneer Peak.

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