Mount Van Cott, Red Butte Canyon

Posted: 1st October 2010 by Jonathan Wood in Hiking
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Looking Down on University of Utah

Looking Down on University of Utah

Very short hike today after doing a longer one last week. I hiked up Mount Van Cott from behind the University of Utah.

Now that it’s October, I was hoping for a bit cooler weather for me and my dog. Unfortunately, the weather instead climbed into record territory at around 89 degrees¬†Fahrenheit. It also ended up that I went during the warmer time of the day, starting around 12:30 PM. Good thing the hike was short, but my dog was definitely struggling in the heat.

Just East of North Campus Drive, there’s a very long parking lot that runs along the base of the mountains behind the University. At the South-East end of that parking lot, there is a dirt road that runs North-East directly into the mountains called Red Butte Canyon Road. I drove up this road a short distance and parked just before the closed gate.

From where I parked, there are a number of trails you can take. I headed North and went right up the face of the mountain, gaining over 500 feet in the first ten to fifteen minutes. The pitch eased off but remained fairly steep for most of the remainder of the hike, climbing a total of around 1,300 feet, taking around 45 minutes (unfortunately, my watch stopped working).

My map shows this peak as Mount Van Cott, but it isn’t much of a peak. On the other site, it flattens out and descends slightly. It then starts climbing again but basically just runs along a ridge where the trail fizzles out. I’ve continued on during previous hikes but it’s a little rough pushing through thick scrub oak after the trail has vanished. This time, I just walked for a few minutes past the peak before turning back.

Coming down, we headed East to come down higher up Red Butte Canyon Road. Again, some very steep slopes. But we were on the canyon road in no time, and casually walked back to the car.

This hike was definitely a short one but, with the steep slopes, a good one if you still want to get a good workout.

Hike: Mount Van Cott
Trailhead: Parking area on Red Butte Canyon Road just before closed gate.
Directions: At the University of Utah, you can access Wakara Way from Foothill Drive. Take Wakara Way North-East until you reach Chipeta Way, a couple of blocks just before Red Butte Gardens. Take Chipeta Way North-West where it ends as a right turn, which becomes Stover Street and then Red Butte Canyon Road. Follow Red Butte Canyon Road straight until after it becomes a dirt road and then widens somewhat just before you reach a closed gate.

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