Salt Lake City, UT: The Pfeifferhorn (Little Matterhorn Peak)

Take two days to savor this 4.6-mile (one-way) climb that ends on the Pfeifferhorn, a rocky, 11,326-foot peak less than an hour from Salt Lake.
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Take two days to savor this 4.6-mile (one-way) climb that ends on the Pfeifferhorn, a rocky, 11,326-foot peak less than an hour from Salt Lake.

Though BACKPACKER’s editors live in peak-blessed Boulder, we still envy residents of Salt Lake City for their access to deep powder and skyscraping summits. Exhibit A: 11,326-foot Pfeifferhorn, a mini-Matterhorn 45 minutes from downtown. Bonus: It’s just five miles to a lakeside basecamp, where you’ll stage a summit scramble.

Although the route to this 11,326-foot peak is not easy—you’ll gain 3,700 feet of elevation in 4.6 miles—it’s worth it. At the top, you’ll be rewarded with sky-high views of Utah Lake, the Great Salt Lake and Mt. Timpanogos. From White Pine trailhead, hike one mile to the junction for Red Pine Lake. Turn right, and after gaining 1,900 feet in 3.5 miles, you’ll reach its blue-green waters.

Make camp 200 feet from shore. Next morning: Head southeast on a climber trail along the stream between Red Pine and Upper Red Pine Lakes, then southwest up talus to a 10,897- foot false summit. Head west along an airy ridge across the saddle, then scramble to the Pfeifferhorn’s summit.

GUIDEBOOK: Hiking Utah, by Bill Schneider and Ann Seifert ($16, falcon.com)

CONTACT: (801) 733-2660, fs.usda.gov

-Mapped by Chelise Simmons

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 14.8

Waypoints

PHN001

Location: 40.575471, -111.681143

From the trailhead, go south on the well-marked trail that leads into the forest.

PHN002

Location: 40.574931, -111.680886

Cross bridge and continue south on trail.

PHN003

Location: 40.566087, -111.68942

Veer right at junction towards Red Pine Lake.

PHN004

Location: 40.565639, -111.689329

Cross a series of 4 bridges.

PHN005

Location: 40.568622, -111.693106

The path levels out at mile 1.3. Look north for sweet views of Little Cottonwood Canyon.

PHN006

Location: 40.564066, -111.696796

The trail steepens and gets rockier.

PHN007

Location: 40.559591, -111.697719

The path narrows as surrounding foliage gets thicker.

PHN008

Location: 40.555548, -111.695756

The trail steepens and gets rockier as it nears Red Pine Lake.

PHN009

Location: 40.551863, -111.694028

Trail grade increases briefly before entering a meadow.

PHN010

Location: 40.550151, -111.693213

Vegetation thins out at this point.

PHN011

Location: 40.544676, -111.69283

You have two options: 1. Find a place to set up camp. 2. Continue the hike by heading southeast around Red Pine Lake.

PHN012

Location: 40.542065, -111.69256

Cross stream and continue south.

PHN013

Location: 40.541461, -111.692505

Continue Sth through large boulder fields & ascend.

PHN014

Location: 40.540335, -111.692312

Follow the cairns when the trail disappears for a brief stretch.

PHN015

Location: 40.538313, -111.691742

The trail crosses a boulder field.

PHN016

Location: 40.537565, -111.692138

Ascend above treeline. Ahead, the route curves to the southwest.

PHN017

Location: 40.536662, -111.692603

Tackle a steep scramble through a boulder field to crest the top of the ridgeline.

PHN018

Location: 40.535167, -111.697342

The trail crests a false summit. Continue west toward the Pfeifferhorn summit.

PHN019

Location: 40.533568, -111.701796

Use caution to cross the rock spine to the other side.

PHN020

Location: 40.533545, -111.703766

Begin steep switchbacks to summit.

PHN021

Location: 40.533519, -111.705272

The path is hard to find as you near the summit. Stay on the south side of the ridge.

PHN022

Location: 40.533509, -111.70595

The Pfeifferhorn (11,326 ft.): You'll get eye-level views of neighboring peaks from this rocky summit (called Little Matterhorn Peak on USGS maps). Follow the same route back to the trailhead.

View from the Pfeifferhorn

Location: 40.533503, -111.705723

1st Bridge

Location: 40.574933, -111.68081

Junction to Red Pine Lake

Location: 40.566095, -111.689324

Little Cottonwood Canyon

Location: 40.568589, -111.692784

Steep Grade, Rocky Trail

Location: 40.555532, -111.695466

Meadow

Location: 40.551015, -111.693707

Scree Covered Hills

Location: 40.550151, -111.69287

Red Pine Lake

Location: 40.544151, -111.692526

Trail Around Lake

Location: 40.543711, -111.692205

Lake Side Rest Stop

Location: 40.541477, -111.692183

Boulder Field

Location: 40.540352, -111.691968

Follow Cairns Through Boulders

Location: 40.538313, -111.691432

Steep Scree Ascent

Location: 40.535443, -111.695101

View

Location: 40.537661, -111.692076

View of Mt. Timpanogos

Location: 40.535394, -111.695595

View of Utah Lake

Location: 40.535068, -111.696389

First Look at Summit

Location: 40.535182, -111.697075

Rocky Spine to Summit

Location: 40.533584, -111.701517

Steep Ascent to Summit

Location: 40.533552, -111.703448

Chipmunk

Location: 40.5336, -111.705873