American Fork Canyon, Utah
Silver Lake Hike up American Fork Canyon, is not to be confused with Silver Lake Loop Trail up Big Cottonwood Canyon. There are HUGE differences between the two lakes. Please make certain that you know which hike/walk you are wanting to complete before you arrive. You will need to be prepared for an actual hike to reach Silver Lake up American Fork Canyon. And Big Cottonwood Canyon is a protected watershed — NO dogs allowed.
- Length: 2.2 miles Out and Back
- Elevation of trailhead: 7,536’
- Elevation Gain: 1,449’
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Hiking Time: 2.5 – 3.5 hours
Take I-15 to Highland/Alpine (Exit 284), head east on UT 92. Approximately 12 miles, turn left onto UT 144 toward Tibble Fork Reservoir. After arriving at Tibble Fork Reservoir follow the paved road, which heads north, and will eventually turn into a dirt road, to Silver Lake Flat. The parking lot with outhouses is on the north end of Silver Flat Lake. The trailhead to Silver Lake is north of the parking lot.
This hike is unlike any other hike in Utah County. It has a fantasy fairyland type of feel right from the beginning, and especially once you reach your destination. The trail is marked so well, that cairns are not needed to help hikers find their way. The only way that you could get lost, is if you stepped off the trail to explore the heavy vegetation. We don’t recommend veering from the designated trail as it causes erosion, not even for a secluded mountain hook up session. Trouble will be brewing for sure if you are caught. This hike is not like many other hikes where you almost feel like you are walking around a mall, due to the amount of people hiking the trail. The elevation gain deters quite a few hikers from visiting Silver Lake and its beautiful surroundings.
As the hike commences you immediately find yourself in a grove of aspens lined with extremely healthy, green foliage. This portion of the hike is well shaded. And also picture worthy. Not too far into the hike, you will enter Lone Peak Wilderness within the Uinta National Forest. Continue following the trail as you cross over streams and listen to the birds singing their beautiful songs. If your lucky, you will get to see deer, moose, and mountain goats. If mountain goats are visible, you would probably only see them on the second half of the hike, as they love to climb the rocky mountainside. Please don’t approach any wild animals. You are in their territory, and they will react if they are feeling threatened.
Approximately halfway up the trail you come out of the shaded grove and launch into an open, unshaded area filled with switchbacks that eventually end at Silver Lake. Switchbacks are amazing because the elevation gain is gradual instead of grueling, which makes the hike more enjoyable in our opinion. Plus, you are able to see your surroundings from various viewpoints. While you’re making your way up to the lake you have stunning views of Mount Timpanogos, Silver Flat Lake, and miles of mountains as far as the eyes can see.
When you reach the end of the switchbacks the trail opens up to Silver Lake nestled in the granite, fairyland looking mountainside, which appears to be protected by White Baldy. You can sit in awe for as long as you’d like. Definitely, do not forget to take pictures of the lake with its granite background. As this is not a protected watershed area, you are able to take your four legged friends along. If you do, please bring poop bags, clean up after your animal, and pack it out instead of leaving it on the trail somewhere. You are able to swim with the fish if you’d like, but the water is quite cold. We saw some college kids carrying floating devices when we were on our way down. You can also fish the lake for trout. People do camp near the lake, in a one or two man pop up backpacking tent. But it didn’t look like there were many spots worth camping in.
Silver Lake is a perfect day hike as well as date hike. With its magnificent views you won’t want to leave. When you are ready to depart this gorgeous scenery just follow the trail back the way that you came.