Willow Heights Lake is a popular destination year-round in Big Cottonwood Canyon for families looking for a short hike with the kids, for backcountry skiers in Winter, and for me, what I call a "bonus hike". A bonus hike is a super short hike that I will do after another longer hike in the area. In this case I just hiked the Mt. Wolverine Cirque to Brighton Lakes (8 miles), and wanted to see Willow Heights at the height of Fall.
Willow Heights is nestled into the North side of Big Cottonwood Canyon, just below the Wasatch Crest Trail, and across from Solitude Ski Resort. The Willow Heights Lake trail is fairly steep, but levels halfway once you are in a field of beautiful Aspen trees. Fast hikers should be able to reach the lake in under 30 minutes; slower hikers or hikers with small children can make it in around 1-1:30 hours (one way). Once at Willow Lake, you can actually hike around the entire lake, but that will add on an additional 1/2 mile. Dogs are not allowed on this trail nor in Big Cottonwood Canyon due to watershed rules.
From SLC, head south on I-215 and take exit 6 for Wasatch Blvd. Turn left into BCC. Reset your odometer to 0. Drive 11.6 miles up the canyon road. The trail starts on your left (North), right by a 35 MPH signs, though you can't see the sign unless you are driving back down the canyon. The trail is just past the Silver Fork Lodge. You will most likely see other cars at the TH, if starting after 10am on weekends. Here's a driving map.
Distance: 1.6 miles RT
Elevation gain: 617 ft
Time: 1-2 hours
Dog friendly? No, dogs are not allowed in BCC
Kid friendly? Yes, very
This is where the trail begins, right by the 35 MPH sign, on the north side of the road, and by these rocks.
You won't see the official TH sign until a few feet up the trail. It says the trail is .75 miles one way, but on both my Gaia GPS and Google Earth map, I got .85 miles one way.
Timing it just right for Fall.
The beautiful Aspen grove trees.
Fall is in the air!
The trail begins to open up at 0.8 miles.
Willow Heights Lake!
You can walk around the entire lake, either direction.
Yes the lake is pretty, but my favorite view is looking across to the BCC ridgeline and over to Solitude. So pretty!
This is taken from the same spot as above but in early Summer of2014. This is another great time to go, when everything is super green and lush.
Here are my stats via Gaia GPS.
Trail map to Willow Heights Lakes.