This is a perfect hike for a family. It is short and fun, with great views. The trail around Silver Lake is the springboard to half a dozen other wonderful hikes above Silver Lake. Several alpine lakes are found along the trails above Silver Lake.
Silver Lake Interpretive Trail Hike Details
Distance – 1.0 mile loop hike around Silver Lake
Approximate hiking time – 30 minutes to an hour
Elevation at trailhead – 8760 feet
Difficulty – Moderate, because of some tricky parts between Lake Mary and Lake Martha.
Trail – well marked trail, boardwalk, and wide trail of dirt and small rocks, most of the trail is wheelchair accessible.
Amount of water recommended – 1 liter
Bathrooms – By the Silver Lake Information Center
Seasons to hike – Late Spring, Summer, and Fall
Permits needed – None
Pets allowed – No, this is a watershed area
How to get there:
If coming from Salt Lake City or points north, take I-15 south to I-215 east. Head east to 6200 South exit. If coming from the south, take I-15 north to I-215 east to 6200 South. At the off-ramp get in the second lane from the right heading to 6200 south. Turn right and go south for 1.7 miles (6200 South turns into Wasatch Boulevard). You will see large brown signs leading you to Big Cottonwood Canyon Road. Turn left onto Big Cottonwood Canyon Road and follow it for about 14 miles to the Brighton Loop. The loop is a large oval about 0.5 miles long. Traffic flows around the loop in a counter-clockwise direction. Turn right at the one-way sign and you will see the Silver Lake Information Center just ahead on your right.
Hitting the Trail!
The trail around Silver Lake starts at the Silver Lake Information Center. I recommend going into the information center, and see the displays they have in there, either before, or after your loop around Silver Lake. About 3/4 of the trail is constructed as a board walk to give hikers better access to the lake and its surroundings than you could get on foot. There are numerous signs with pictures pointing out the flora and fauna along the way. It is wheel chair accessible with just a couple of small hills along the far side of the lake.
This is such a perfect hike for families with small children! Since the trail is very well-marked and popular, it is easy to follow. Along the way, hikers can see signs beside the trail that teach about the flowers and animals that can be found around the lake.
If you get there early in the morning during late spring and summer, it is common to see moose along the northern part of the trail. I have spotted several each time when I go early in the morning. As a reminder, as grand as a moose looks, they can be very temperamental. Do not approach a moose. Maintain your distance. If you come in close contact with one, slowly back away. Moose will sense you before you see them, but sometimes they are caught by surprise. Slowly back away. Moose will usually “huff” a couple of times to let you know that you are a little too close.
There is a spot on the north side of the trail, about two minutes after leaving the boardwalk which makes for an amazing photo. At this spot, the trail follows right along the shore of Silver Lake. There is a spot where the trees along the shore open up, so you have an unobstructed view of Silver Lake. Early morning shots are perfect as photographers can get a great reflection in the water of a mountain in the background.
After this spot you’ll walk another couple of minutes around Silver Lake and you’ll see where the trails to the higher alpine lakes leave the Silver Lake Interpretive trail.
On the south side of Silver Lake is my other favorite part of the trail. After hiking along a part of the trail that has no shade, you suddenly find yourself in a pine forest. It’s beautiful! This is a great place to sit in the shade and listen to the birds above and see ducks swimming in the lake. This part feels completely different from the rest of the hike. I love it.
Before you know it, you are out of the pine trees, and in the tall grasses and reeds along the south part of the boardwalk. Such a great hike for families. At this point in the trail, boardwalk to a dock, breaks away from the main boardwalk and extends out into Silver Lake.
To do the entire loop should only take an hour with children, so it makes for a great family outing. This is a wonderful way to introduce children to hiking. It’s virtually flat the entire time, and the kids will beg to go back! The trail will end near picnic tables as well as bathrooms, which are next to the Silver Lake Information Center.