Dog Lake, Mill Creek Canyon

Posted: 1st October 2011 by Jonathan Wood in Hiking
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Took yet another hike to Dog Lake today. The leaves are starting to turn to their Fall colors and the weather is starting to cool. It won’t be long before the upper Mill Creek Canyon is closed.

As usual, parking was scarce on a Saturday afternoon. Most people will park at one of the lower parking lots. However, I find I can generally get a spot at the very top of Mill Creek if I wait a while.

I tried to set a pretty good pace up the Little Water trail to the lake without stopping and it took around 35 minutes. I don’t really seem to be able to do this hike much faster than that.

The temperature was great. Definitely feeling a bit cooler and the sky was partly cloudy.

The hike was fairly short and uneventful. There were quite a few people and their dogs at the lake. We stayed a while before heading back down.

Definitely a nice hike to get in before it’s too lake this year.

Dog Lake: 8,795 Feet
Elevation Gained: 1,400 Feet
Distance Traveled: 3.77 Miles
Time on Mountain: 2 Hours and 21 Minutes

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Evening Hike, Butterfield Canyon

Posted: 23rd September 2011 by Jonathan Wood in Hiking
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Although I’ve been hiking as much as ever recently, my schedule has been a bit more hectic. And I seem to be doing more and smaller hikes. And I haven’t been blogging about them all due to time constraints and the fact that I’ve already blogged about many of these hikes.

Today, I took a short evening hike up Butterfield Canyon. The temperature is definitely getting cooler and many trees are now showing their fall colors.

I just pulled over part-way up Butterfield Canyon and headed up the hill. It started out very steep and, since there was a bunch of loose gravel, I had to pull myself up using bushes and small trees.

Once I got up on a ridge, the slope was much more gentle but then got steeper as I headed to the top of the main ridge in this area. I then walked along the ridge and, finally, got on a dirt road and took it back to the main canyon road. I then had to walk down the road a short distance back to my truck.

Although I’ve hiked all around Butterfield, this particular route was new to me. It was fairly short but gave me a good workout.

We saw a number of deer. I was prepared with a headlamp to come down in the dark but never used. Although it was pretty dark by the time I reached the main canyon road, it was still light enough to see where I was going.

Butterfield Canyon: 6,931 Feet
Elevation Gained: 1,051 Feet
Distance Traveled: 2.83 Miles
Time on Mountain: 1 Hour and 24 Minutes

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Butterfield Peaks, Butterfield Canyon

Posted: 10th September 2011 by Jonathan Wood in Hiking
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Last night I took  a quick evening hike up to Dog Lake (Mill Creek Canyon). It was great to have a bit cooler temperatures. I didn’t want anything too major today and decided to head up again to Butterfield Canyon.

This is a hike I’ve done several times before but never as far as I went today. A couple of times I was hiking in the evening and just didn’t want to go that far. All the rest of the times it rained! And I turned back out of fear of lightening.

I actually hiked up a dirt road, which I don’t do that often. The first time I took this road was in the Spring and it was incredibly green with tall grass and thick vegetation. Even today, when most of this area is brown, parts of this trail are still fairly green.

Much of this hike is through the trees in some very nice areas. Eventually, the trail becomes more exposed and rocky. It also gets steeper until you get up on a fairly level ridge. Finally, the section between this ridge and the antenna is the steepest of all. Actually, I left the dirt road for this final section, heading straight up to the top of a ridge.

I’ve hiked all over this area but have never reached a couple of antennas at the end of this trail. So today I finally made it up there today. This really rounds out the trails I’ve hiked (and bushes I’ve whacked) in this area.

The dog struggled a bit in the heat but temperatures were actually cooler today (around 80 degrees). When we reached the antenna, there was a nice breeze and I felt great. In fact, the clouds began to increase and it started to feel almost fall-like. Much of the walk back was incredibly nice.

When I reached the antenna, a worker was there building a “power station” for one of the antennas. I stopped and talked with him a while. He told me that both antennas were owned by UTA. That’s the Utah Transit Authority, who own the bus and light rail systems in Salt Lake City.

There are a number of dirt roads that provide access to these antennas. However, they are all gated.

Because that last stretch was so steep, I took a more casual walk back on one of the dirt roads. As we descended into the trees, there is a cabin, which I’ve hiked to once before in Winter.

For whatever reason, I seemed to have got everything right today as I really felt great walking back. I strongly recommend this hike, even though it’s actually private property and it appears hikers aren’t necessarily wanted in this area (although I doubt anyone would saying anything and even if they did, it would probably only be to tell you to leave).

I would especially recommend this hike in the Spring when everything is very green.

Butterfield Peaks: 8,215 Feet
Altitude Gained: 2,076 Feet
Distance Traveled: 4.27 Miles
Time on Mountain: 2 Hours and 28 Minutes

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The Terraces and Bowman Fork, Mill Creek Canyon

Posted: 3rd September 2011 by Jonathan Wood in Hiking
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Last week, I hiked yet again to Dog Lake. I didn’t bother to blob about it because I’ve blogged so much about this hike lately. I also took a few nice hikes during the week but didn’t blog about those either. So, today, I’m back at it.

Although it’s getting cooler, I’m still limited which hikes I’ll take right now because of the heat. The main problem is my dog, which is much more comfortable in the snow. But the cooler Fall temperatures will also be welcome for me as well.

Today, I took a hike from the Terraces, a picnic area up Mill Creek Canyon. The logical conclusion of this hike is your choice of Gobbler’s Knob or Mount Raymond. Either one is a pretty substantial hike. Unfortunately, l didn’t make it to either, largely because of the heat (not a cloud in the sky). But I got a nice hike in just the same.

You can drive a vehicle up the small road at the Terraces and there is a separate parking lot next to the trailhead. The first section of the trail runs along a stream before turning up steeper terrain.

From there, the trail climbs a series of ridges (best seen by loading the GPS data into Google Earth). The hike was pretty uneventful but there was a lot of vegetation, which make it quite humid in places.

Near the place where we turned back, there is a small pipe coming out of the ground with cold water coming out of it. It might be nice to research exactly why this pipe is here and where the water comes from. I probably wouldn’t drink the water myself, but it was a nice break for the dog.

I went a bit higher but the dog seemed to have had enough. I would’ve like to have reached Gobbler’s Knob again. Perhaps I’ll make this hike again in the Fall.

Ending Altitude: 8,988 Feet
Altitude Gained: 3,178 Feet
Distance Traveled: 6.63 Miles
Total Time on Mountain: 3 Hours 15 Minutes

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Island Lake, Uinta Mountains

Posted: 20th August 2011 by Jonathan Wood in Hiking, Walking
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As we get well into August, I’ve been looking for ways to beat the heat. One way is to hike around water. However, there just aren’t that many places to hike around water within Salt Lake County, especially if you are taking dogs. So I decided to take a rare drive up to the Uinta Mountains, which is absolutely teaming with small lakes.

Unfortunately, I didn’t plan as well as I could have. I ended up driving to the Uintas without first studying some good trail maps.

I drove up Mirror Lake highway to Trial Lake. I really am not that familiar with the area so I just looked around for a good trail. I climbed up a steep bank to Washington Lake, where I found the Crystal Lake trail head.

The Crystal Lake trail head takes you on a really nice, well-formed trail. The trail winds through many lakes and scenic areas. Unfortunately, it doesn’t gain much altitude and so is not an ideal trail for getting a good workout. In fact, the trail seems to descend overall, and you come closer to a hike on the way back.

That’s not to say there aren’t a lot of steep hikes in the area. There are many peaks, including King’s Peak to the East, which is the highest point in Utah. It seems clear there are also a number of peaks accessible from the trail I was on. But they weren’t readily apparent to me and I’ll do more research the next time I come here to hike.

This would probably be a good trail to pack a tent for overnight camping, especially if you like camping next to lakes as I do. Once we got past Trial and Washington Lakes, probably the biggest lake we saw was Long Lake. That seemed like it might have been a nice place to camp.

I continued West on the trail from Long Lake but then kind of lost the trail where it went over some flat rocks, and was less visible. I followed someone else who said they knew where the trail went but were apparently mistaken. After going on a dwindling trail for a short while, I used my GPS to determine where Island Lake was (the next major lake on the trail). At one point, I just headed through the woods on no trail in the direction of Island Lake. Fortunately, I came up on the main trail again before too long.

For the most part, the trail continued to descend until just before Island Lake, where it turned into a short climb. Island lake is a medium sized lake, apparently named for the island within the lake. I hung out here for a while before walking around the lake and then, finally, heading back.

If you like walking through the woods and seeing a lot of beautiful lakes, then I can definitely recommend this trail. According to my map, this trail continues all the way to the South end of the Smith and Morehouse Reservoir. There are also some great areas to camp.

However, for a good hike up a mountain, this is not that sort of trail. Perhaps I’ll be back later this Summer with a tent!

(Note that the Total Altitude Gained shown below is the sum of all hills climbed. Since the trail went up and down, this value is greater than the difference between the lowest and highest point of the hike. The actual difference between the lowest and highest points of the hike was only about 512 feet.)

Island Lake: 10,156  Feet.
Total Altitude Gained (accumulated): 1,603.
Distance traveled: 9.17 Miles.
Time on Mountain: 4 Hours and 22 Minutes.

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Dog Lake (Mill Creek Canyon)

Posted: 13th August 2011 by Jonathan Wood in Hiking
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The weather forecast for today called for temperatures in the upper 90s. Since my dog has trouble handling the heat, I decided today to hike again to Dog Lake.

Unfortunately, there aren’t a whole lot of lakes one can hike to with a dog in this area. I hiked to Dog Lake last week, and went on to Little Water Peak. However this week I took two smaller hikes so today I just went to Dog Lake and no further.

As usual, I took the Little Water trail and tried to keep a fairly brisk pace. It took approximately 35 minutes from the car to the lake. I spent a fair amount of time at the lake today. I walked around the lake and spent time throwing sticks into the lake for the dog to go after.

To stretch out what was becoming more of a relaxed day today, I took the Big Water trail back down. This trail is longer and not as steep as the trail I took up. If you look at the map below, you can easily compare the two trails.

I got kind of a late start today and the biting flies were already active. I got quite a few bites but they weren’t as bad by the lake as they were last week on Little Water peak, for example.

A fairly uneventful hike today. Aside from the hike up and the biting flies, it was mostly a nice relaxing afternoon in the mountains. There were even a few clouds that came out and blocked the Sun for a little while, cooling things down.

Dog Lake: 8,818 Feet
Elevation Gained: 1,752 Feet
Distance Traveled: 4.69 Miles
Time on Mountain: 3 Hours and 9 Minutes

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Little Water Peak (Mill Creek Canyon)

Posted: 6th August 2011 by Jonathan Wood in Hiking
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Hiking these past few weeks has just been too hot for my dog so I went back to hike Little Water Peak again (via Mill Creek Canyon) so that we could stop at Dog Lake and cool down. Or, at least the dog could!

We drove to the very end of Mill Creek Canyon road and parked at the small parking lot there. Note that, on weekends, it is often necessary to park at a lower parking lot due to lack of available parking. I’m usually pretty lucky if I wait for someone to leave. However, today I found one empty spot as soon as I reached the top, even though the overflow parking lots were all full

There are two trails to Dog Lake: The Little Water trail and the Big Water trail. The Little Water trail is shorter and steeper, while the Big Water trail is longer with a more gentle slope. Note that dogs can hike off-leash on odd-numbered days. Dogs must be on-leash and share the trail with bikers on even-numbered days.

I took the Little Water trail and made pretty good time to Dog Lake. (Unfortunately, I’m not sure exactly but think it was around 35 minutes.) We stopped for a while and had the dog cool off before heading South up to Little Water Peak.

If you try this hike, you should expect a fairly good workout. These hills are rather steep. However, there is no trail, to speak of. There’s a fair amount of bushwhacking required.

You should also be aware that, when hiking this time of year, the insects are out in full force. They aren’t so bad in the early morning. But as the day warms up, they start to get rather annoying. Despite killing many of them, my legs have numerous bites, which I know itch intensely for days.

The views are impressive from Little Water Peak. You can look right down upper Mill Creek Canyon. On a clear day, you can just see the Great Salt Lake. And you can also see the valley through the mouth of Big Cottonwood canyon and glimpse the Oquirrhs on the far side of the valley.

Primarily because of the biting insects, I didn’t stay on Little Water Peak for long. I headed back down to Dog Lake, where we ate a snack and hung out a while before heading back down.

Little Water Peak: 9,605 Feet
Elevation Gained: 2,412 Feet
Distance Traveled: 5.29 Miles
Time on Mountain: 3 Hours 11 Minutes

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Butterfield Peaks (Butterfield Canyon)

Posted: 30th July 2011 by Jonathan Wood in Hiking
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And I took yet another hike up to the Butterfield Peaks today. I’ve been spending a lot of time up here lately, experimenting with various routes up these hills. I don’t necessarily recommend this particular route. It was very steep with no good trail. Much of this hike was spent pulling myself up by grabbing bushes or whatever else I could grab.

I parked at the top of Butterfield Canyon road (where it starts down again into the Tooele side). From my truck, I walked South down the gently sloping dirt road. Where the road hits the creek, I continued roughly in the same direction, up a fairly steep slope.

I haven’t been this route before. I’ve been in this area and seen a trail going up this route. Unfortunately, the trail was a flop. Within minutes, the creek itself became the trail. Eventually, I headed more to the West up a very steep hill.

Heading up, I eventually came up on a ridge. I took this ridge South. It went down slightly before heading back up again. As before, it became very steep. And there was heavy vegetation and no trails but an occasional deer trail.

Eventually, we came up on the main trail that runs along the ridge that’s home to what are called the Butterfield Peaks. From here, I headed East and took the main trail back to the truck.

Today was another warm day. Worse, it was very humid. In addition, the heavy vegetation seemed to make it even more humid. In fact, I started getting light-headed in a few places. Also, my dog was clearly struggling with the heat.

I find myself really enjoying steep hikes lately. I generally don’t go on very long hikes but I really like to see how far I can push myself up a steep slope. Unfortunately, with creeks, heavy vegetation, loose gravel or slippery slopes, and heat, I often find a lot of my effort going to more then just getting myself up the hill.

Nonetheless, I felt really good once I got up on top of the ridge. I also felt really good later in the day after I got home.

I continue to be very busy at work. This is at-the-computer type of work. And it feels really great to get up in the mountains. As always, I’m very glad I went!

As before, I can recommend hiking this are as an alternative to the Wasatch mountains. You might think twice before taking some of the routes I’ve taken. But there is a main trail up these hills that is a great hike if you’re not really into bushwhackng it.

Butterfield Peaks: 9,227 Feet
Elevation Gained: 1,913 Feet
Distance Traveled: 4.24 Miles
Time on Mountain: 3 Hours and 5 Minutes

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Butterfield Peaks and Beyond (Butterfield Canyon)

Posted: 23rd July 2011 by Jonathan Wood in Hiking
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Headed up to Butterfield Peaks again, in the same area I hiked last week.

I actually did another Butterfield Canyon hike yesterday. I didn’t take my camera or GPS and so I didn’t write a blog for that hike. Yesterday’s hike wasn’t very long but I climbed for about an hour. Because of that, I initially thought I’d do a shorter hike today. However, I ended up pushing a little more today than I initially thought.

The first part of this hike is a great hike if you don’t want anything too major, but don’t mind a few steep slopes. You can either climb up to the ridge that includes what are known as the Butterfield Peaks. Or you can climb up about another 100 feet or so to the tallest of these peaks, which is home to a number of different kind of antennas.

So today I hiked up to the ridge that’s home to the Butterfield Peaks, but starting thinking about continuing on to Kelsey Peak. Reaching 10,373 feet, Kelsey Peak rivals many peaks along the Wasatch mountains. To reach Kelsey Peak from the Butterfield Peaks, you must first hike down about 400 feet before finally hiking up over 2,000 feet to the peak.

I’ve hiked up around Kelsey Peak a few times, but I’ve never successfully climbed it using this route–and I didn’t today either. The first time I tried to reach Kelsey Peak using this route, I got extremely close. There is a trail that climbs across the Eastern face of these mountains, which I took. However, this face becomes extremely steep. Near the top, much of the surface consists of a type of shale rock. Not only are your feet unable to dig into the rocky ground, but the shale is constantly flaking up, making it somewhat unstable.

As I neared the top in that attempt, I became very uneasy. I have a fear of heights that I’m not looking to get over. (The last thing I want is a fall.) Worse, as I neared the top, I looked up where it got even steeper and rockier and saw a big snow drift I’d also have to climb. That was enough for me, so I turned back. I don’t recommend this approach while there is still snow up there, or if you share my fear of heights. (And I wouldn’t exactly recommend it if you don’t have a fear of heights either.)

Today, I thought about trying to hike up along the ridge that runs down the North-eastern side of these mountains. So I gave it a try. This is a rough climb and extremely steep. You’ll spend a fair amount of time on “all fours” if you try it, and you need to be very careful to avoid a bad fall.

In the end, I actually stopped because my dog was overheating. She’s a German Shepherd and is built for cold weather. The high temperature today topped out at around 90 degrees, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky so the Sun beat down mercilessly.

As the dog lagged behind more and more, I really started becoming concerned. We headed a bit North where we got under the shade of a small tree. I tried to cool her down for a while before heading back down.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I would’ve reached the peak if I wasn’t worried about the dog. From where we sat, I couldn’t even see the last 100 feet we’d hiked. Instead, it looked like I was looking over a big cliff. But we were at about 9,500 feet and I could’ve continued on and seen what was higher up.

Heading down, I quickly ran out of water (most of it went to the dog), and I we headed down the mountain as quickly as we could.

(Once we got home, the dog was dead to the World and is still laying in front of the air conditioner. Of course, she can’t complain. But I suspect she may have had a bit of heat stroke today.)

This is a great hike. But if you plan to continue on to Kelsey Peak, expect to encounter advanced hiking conditions.

Highest Point Reached: 9,451 Feet
Elevation Gained: 2,657  Feet
Distance Traveled: 6.69 Miles
Time on Mountain: 3 Hours and 41 Minutes

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Butterfield Peaks (Butterfield Canyon)

Posted: 16th July 2011 by Jonathan Wood in Hiking
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Now that the gates have been opening in some of my favorite canyons, I suddenly have a number of new options for my weekly hike. Today, I headed up Butterfield and hiked to the Butterfield Peaks.

I drove up the canyon to the point where is starts down on the Tooele side and parked there. There is a trail that starts right behind the cement barricades, and there’s also a dirt road. In most cases, I recommend the trail when doing this hike. But I wanted to do something a bit different today.

I took the dirt road South until it came to a stream. I then cut up a steep trail towards the Butterfield Peaks.

This is a more difficult route. For starters, the road actually descends a few hundred feet or so before it finally reaches the trail, so there’s more distance to climb. Second, this route includes some very steep sections. Third, the trail varies from okay to nonexistent, and you’re almost certain to “bushwhack” sections of this climb.

I’ve done hike this once before. Last time, I actually hiked up the creek itself for much of the distance. Today, I wanted to try and stay on the trails. Also, there was quite a bit of water in the creek today.

I managed to stay on the trail for much of the climb. But, as I mentioned, there is no solid trail from beginning to end. And with the extra rainfall this Spring, there were many sections that had a good trail but the vegetation had overgrown to cover the trail.

After a pretty steep climb, I came on a green meadow (see photos). It seemed really cool. We saw several deer. And we came across a couple of other meadows as well, although none were as wide and flat as the first.

One concern I had was that the trail would take me too far South. I wanted to hit the final peak head on and get a really good workout. Well, I definitely felt like I got a good workout. Sections of the climb were on “all fours”. Surprisingly, I actually hit the ridge North of where I wanted. From there, I took the regular trail to the top.

This is a great hike if you want to explore the Oquirrhs. I recommend going the way that I came down (see map). However, if you want a little adventure and some super steep climbs, you can always take the route I took.

Butterfield Peaks: 9,335 Feet
Altitude Gain: 1,902 Feet
Distance Traveled: 3.86 Miles
Time on Mountain: 3 Hours

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