60 Hikes within 60 Miles: Salt Lake City (Gear Review)

Posted: 12th July 2011 by Jonathan Wood in Gear Review
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60 Hikes within 60 MilesIf you are wanting to hike the mountains around Salt Lake City but don’t really know where the good trails are, you may want to obtain a guide. One guide you might consider is the Salt Lake City edition of 60 Hikes within 60 Miles (Menasha Ridge Press).

This book describes 60 hikes, in considerable detail, along the North (Weber and Davis Counties), Central (Salt Lake County), South (Utah County), West (Tooele County), and East (Uintas and Summit County) ends of the greater Salt Lake area.

Each hike includes a summary and detailed description, along with driving directions, trailhead coordinates, elevation profile, pictures and other information.

The “Key At-A-Glance-Information” sections provides a summary of the hike, including distance, altitudes, difficulty, amount of traffic, and other information. It even tells you if dogs are allowed on this hike.

This book seems well-researched and the amount of detail included in the description is fairly impressive. Some of the descriptions includes information I didn’t know, even though it’s describing a hike that I’ve done before. So it’s definitely a great way to become more knowledgeable about the hikes described in the book.

A section at the front of the book organizes all hikes according to difficulty, best hikes for wildlife, etc. You can use this section to more readily find those hikes with the features you are most interested in.

Navigating the book seems like it could have been a little easier. The hikes aren’t in alphabetical order. There’s a handy index at the front of the book, with a hike number next to each hike. You can then locate that number in the book to read about that hike.

Note that the numbers are not page numbers. The first page for each hike has the hike number in bold letters and black background. However, they aren’t all on the same side of the page, and the remaining pages that describe the hike do not have this bold number. And so thumbing through the book isn’t as easy as it could have been. However, as you become familiar with the book and the various ways hikes are indexed, you should be able to find the information you need without too much trouble.

It would’ve been nice if the pictures were in color, although this would obviously make the book more expensive.

In summary, anyone wanting to know more places to hike in the Salt Lake area, and wanting more information about each of those places would benefit from this book.

Big Water Trail to Dog Lake (Mill Creek Canyon)

Posted: 9th July 2011 by Jonathan Wood in Hiking
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For the second time in a week, I took another hike to Dog Lake from Mill Creek Canyon.

I usually take the Little Water trail, which is shorter and steeper. Today, I hiked with some friends who are not regular hikers and we took the Big Water trail, which is longer but has a gentler slope.

For those of you who would like a nice hike, this is definitely one to consider.  That goes double if you want to hike with your dog. I saw people at all different levels of fitness on the trail. It took us around 1 hour and 15 minutes to reach the lake. Obviously, it takes longer if you go slower or stop more. But it really is a fairly easy hike.

Two tips: First, if it’s hot, be sure to take enough water for you and your dog. Second, if you’re taking a dog, go on an odd-numbered day. Dogs can be off-leash on odd-numbered days, and bike are allowed on the trail only on even-numbered days.

I realized that when I hike normally, I don’t spend a whole lot of time at the destination. Today was a bit different. And the dogs loved it!

On the way back, we took a slightly different route near the bottom that took use to the lower parking lot. I then walked a short distance up the road to my car.

We saw a few patches of snow but there wasn’t much and what was left was melting fast. Sorry, no pictures for this week.

Dog Lake Altitude: 8,752 Feet
Elevation Gain: 2,156 Feet
Distance Traveled: 5.73 Miles
Time on Mountain: 4 Hours and 20 minutes

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Dog Lake and Little Water Peak (Mill Creek Canyon)

Posted: 2nd July 2011 by Jonathan Wood in Hiking

I was glad to find that the Mill Creek Canyon gate had opened yesterday on schedule, and that the opening was not delayed due to increased snowfall this Spring. Now that we are well into Summer, many new hiking opportunities are opening up. So today, I parked at the parking lot at the very end of Mill Creek Canyon road. And I headed up to Dog Lake and beyond.

From the parking lot, there are two trails you can take to Dog Lake. The Big Water trail is considerably longer and takes a more gentle climb. This is the most common route, and is fairly easy. The Little Water trail is shorter and steeper. I took the Little Water trail because it is a more aggressive hike. It also had the advantage of having virtually no cyclists to compete with, due to the more difficult terrain. (Bikes are allowed on this trail only on even-numbered days, and dogs must be leashed on these days. Dogs can hike off-leash on odd-numbered days.)

There was a bit more snow than I anticipated, but it didn’t present any problems. It’ did, however, slow me down slightly. My fastest time ever to Dog Lake is around 36 minutes–it took closer to 40 minutes today.

After letting the dog cool off in the lake for a few minutes, I decided to head Northeast towards Little Water Peak. This is a steep climb and there are no trails that I can find. And my legs got cut up a little moving through the vegetation in shorts!

This climb took me to a “sharp” peak before heading back down into a grove of aspen trees. There was actually a big patch of snow at this point, which I slid down on my feet. Last time I was here, it was very green and very nice. Today, I could tell that the ground had only recently become exposed from under the snow that had covered it. It was still gray. From this point, the slope was much more gentle up to Little Water peak.

If you’re up to the steep climb to get there, and a bit of “bushwhacking”, I strongly recommend this hike. I felt great once I got up onto the final stretch to the peak, which seemed quite isolated. There were patches of snow, trees, and incredible views. I could look down upper Mill Creek Canyon with the Great Salt Lake in the distance, I could see the Salt Lake Valley through Big Cottonwood canyon, and I could see over towards Park City.

With temperatures near 100 today, it was a little warm. But it was a great day to get out, and probably the best place to be during a warm Summer day.

Little Water Peak: 9,605 Feet
Elevation Gained: 2,330 Feet
Distance Traveled: 5.12 Miles
Time on Mountain: 3 Hours and 6 Minutes

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Neff’s Canyon/Mount Olympus Ridge

Posted: 25th June 2011 by Jonathan Wood in Hiking
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Today was an interesting day. I’ve been extremely busy with computer stuff and really wanted to get a workout in the mountains today.

The forecast was calling for highs near 90. I handle the heat pretty well but my dog doesn’t. We started by driving to Bells Canyon, which has some reservoirs that could keep the dog cool. But not only was the parking absolutely packed, but there were signs that absolutely no dogs were allowed on this hike.

So next I drove to Neff’s Canyon, between Mill Creek Canyon and Mount Olympus. Neff’s has a stream for most of the hike and I figured there would be water on this hike as well.

I’ve hiked Neff’s a number of times, but usually in the Winter. When the trail is covered in packed snow, it’s fairly easy to walk on. But in the Summer, the trail is rather rocky and sections of it turn into a creek. And I hadn’t considered the fact that we’ve had some record precipitation this year and higher temperatures would be causing increased snow melt.

Sure enough, I could see sections of the river had overflowed the banks. There have been several drownings this year (both people and dogs) as a result of fast-moving creeks, and sections of the creek looked very fast moving. And, sure enough, we didn’t go far before we had to across it. In fact, we had to walk across it a number of times. Naturally, I was pretty cautious, mostly for the dog. But I was able to find places to cross that weren’t too deep and it wasn’t a problem (other than water in my boots for the remainder of the hike).

It became more problematic higher up. Sections of the trail were now a fast-moving river. There were a number of “side trails” that went around the worst areas. I used several such trails until, finally, I was simply unable to find a way to access the main trail. I had fast moving rivers on both sides of me.

I thought about turning back but I was bent on getting my hike today. The slope I ended up on was very steep and there were no more trails. But I decided to “bushwhack” it up the hill. This took me slightly South, closer to the Mount Olympus area.

We continued up for nearly an hour. It was starting to get pretty warm, which really brought out the deer flies. For most of the hike, I had 20 – 30 swarming around me, and about the same number around the dog. It got steeper until the slope eased up a bit and we stopped at a patch of snow to cool down.

We must have startled a moose pretty bad because he went charging off through the trees. Initially, I could not see him very well and I was startled by all the noise, thinking he might be charging us!

At this point, there was a ridge that ran along on my right. I turned up and headed directly up to the top of the ridge. This climb got steeper than at any point before. I was on all fours for much of this section. Once on top of the ridge, it was difficult to go much further. The ridge was very rocky and extremely steep all around. Mount Olympus has some rocky slopes that require rock-climbing gear to climb. While I wasn’t on Mount Olympus itself, you could certainly see some similar type of slopes.

The deer flies were also really bad on this ridge. I figured I’d got my workout and I headed back down. I stopped for a snack where we had seen the moose, and then we continued on down. I was wearing shorts and my legs got pretty cut up going down. But it didn’t take that long before we were back on the trail.

At one point, a rattling sound caught both me and my dog’s attention. It was a rattlesnake right on the side of the trail. It wasn’t coiled up but it kept doing short bursts of rattling, perhaps to let us know it was there. I haven’t observed this behavior before. It slowly made it’s way up the side of the trail. I made sure it was off the trail before anyone else came along, and then I continued on.

A few canyons with gates that close for the Winter will be opening those gates soon (such as Mill Creek and Butterfield Canyons). This will open up a lot of additional hiking opportunities, including hikes higher up were it can be a little cooler. I’m definitely looking forward to that. As the temperature gets into the 90s and 100s, I need some additional options.

Today was a little rough going. Nonetheless, I did get my workout in the mountains today.

Highest Point: 7,951 Feet
Elevation Gained: 2,466 Feet
Distance Traveled: 4.55 Miles
Time on Mountain: 3.5 Hours

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The Terraces to Bowman Fork (Mill Creek Canyon)

Posted: 18th June 2011 by Jonathan Wood in Hiking
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After taking a casual hike yesterday, I wanted to do something more today–but not too much.

With the weather getting warmer, I went for a North-facing slope with plenty of trees for shade. This took me up Mill Creek Canyon to the Terraces picnic area. I took the trail through Bowman Fork. (See map below.)

I’ve hiked a lot further along this trail but stopped after about 45 minutes today (1 1/2 hours total on the mountain) and I climbed less than 1,600 feet. So it was short and sweet, and I don’t even have any photos today.

This is a pretty long trail if you want to go to the end. Initial sections are not very steep but there are steeper sections higher up. It’s not all that satisfying as a short hike because you don’t really get a lot of good views unless you continue on to some of the peaks.

I’ve taken this trail previously to Gobbler’s Knob, which is an excellent hike. But it’s a fairly substantial hike and I wasn’t up for it today. In addition, hikers coming down told me it was difficult to reach due to snow remaining on the mountains.

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Walk at Cedar Hollow

Posted: 17th June 2011 by Jonathan Wood in Walking
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Something different today as I took a more casual walk with my dog, a friend, and his dog in the Cedar Hollow area near Kamas.

We actually walked up an ATV trail. However, after encountering a couple of ATVs early on, we were lucky not to see any more and had a nice, quite hike.

The area really looked nice this time of year, and there were plenty of things for the dogs to check out. We saw a deer and signs of other wildlife.

After a while, my friend wanted to stop for a while and I headed a few hundred feet up a steep, nearby hill. When I came down, we tried a couple of other routes but soon turned back. (See map.)

On the way down, we stopped and had a fire for an hour or two.

This was a very casual hike but it was nice to get out of the valley for a day and I think this was a nice time of year to check this place out.

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Butterfield Canyon

Posted: 11th June 2011 by Jonathan Wood in Hiking

And once again I headed up to Butterfield Canyon today. Lately, I’ve been alternating each week between a “more substantial” hike and hiking along Butterfield Canyon.

Me and my dog like Butterfield but I also like to vary my hikes. Each Butterfield hike is nearly the same right now because the gate is closed at the bottom of the canyon. It should be opened within the next few weeks, which will open up a lot of additional hiking opportunities up this canyon.

We hiked the ridge that runs along the South side of the canyon. We only saw one or two deer today, although we saw a snake, a horny toad, and about a dozen lizards.

There is still quite a bit of snow along the top of the Oquirrhs but, where we hiked, it is starting to get warm. My dog in particular started having trouble. I had to stop several times to give her a drink and pour water from my hydration pack to cool her down. In fact, I ended up running out of water!

I actually felt pretty good and we ended up going a little further than I normally do on this ridge. In fact, I probably could’ve continued on. But I started to get concerned about my dog and I felt I’d had a pretty good hike.

We stopped for a snack under a few small trees and then headed back down. Since I wanted to get the dog some more water, we headed straight down to the main canyon road, which runs along a stream, and walked back on the road.

In fact, the clouds started to increase and we even felt a few rain drops before we reached the car.

Peak: 6,905 Feet
Accumulated Elevation Gained: 1,844 Feet
Distance Traveled: 6.4 Miles
Time on Mountain: 3 Hours and 17 Minutes

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Elbow Fork to Mount Aire (Mill Creek Canyon)

Posted: 4th June 2011 by Jonathan Wood in Hiking
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Today was a beautiful day to be in the mountains. For the most part, the Sun was shining and temperatures ranged from a little too warm to a little too cold. You can’t ask for more than that.

I was thinking the gate (part way up Mill Creek Canyon) opened on June 1, but apparently it opens on July 1. So while I had planned to hike further up the canyon today, I instead hiked to Mt Aire–the second time I’ve done this hike.

This is a somewhat aggressive hike, climbing nearly 2,000 feet in just over one and a half miles.

However, because the gate was closed, I had to park at the gate at walk about one and a half miles before I reached the trailhead at Elbow Fork. This doubled the total distance and added about 500 feet to the hike.

The forecast called for a high of around 80 degrees today. It was mostly sunny and I saw a fair amount of snow, and melting snow. There were a few sections where the trail had turned into a small stream.

For some reason, I never thought to bring my MICROspikes for walking on snow. I really was expecting most of it to be gone by now. Fortunately, there weren’t many places where it was necessary to walk over the snow.

For me personally, it’s been a stressful couple of weeks. While I initially struggled a little up some of the steeper sections, I was then able to push myself a little. And I really felt great by the time I was walking back to the car.

Peek: Mount Aire, 8,621 Feet
Altitude Gained: 2,599 Feet
Total Distance Traveled:  6.14 Miles
Time on Mountain: 3 Hours and 34 Minutes

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Butterfield Canyon

Posted: 28th May 2011 by Jonathan Wood in Hiking
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After a pretty aggressive hike last week, I went back to Butterfield canyon again today. As I often do, I took the ridge that runs along the south side of the main canyon road.

The Salt Lake weather continues to be pretty unpredictable as rain was again in the forecast. But the weather turned out nice and the hills continue to look greener than they generally are.

The gate is still closed for the Winter, although I expect it to open before long. When the gate is open, you can drive up the canyon, which provides easy access to additional hiking areas.

The route I took is not very aggressive but instead travels up and down along the hills. I made a point to hit a few steep sections to get a bit of a workout.

I didn’t see much wildlife today, but saw more hikers and horse riders than usual. The dog ran off a few times and may have seen something I missed. However, I did see a wild turkey and even a hummingbird.

One thing nice about this hike is that it’s a great place to get outdoors, and you can decide how far you want to go. Later in the Summer, it will be a little to hot for most people. But it’s really nice during the Spring.

Elevation: 6,686 Feet
Total Elevation Gain: 1,745 Feet
Distance Traveled: 6.01 Miles
Time on Mountain: 3 Hours 8 Minutes

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Big Beacon (Mount Wire) from Hogle Zoo

Posted: 21st May 2011 by Jonathan Wood in Hiking
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Nice weather today as I headed up Big Beacon (Mt. Wire) from the small parking lot across the street from Hogle Zoo.

It had rained all week but the Sun was out today, and the hillside looked a bit greener than it normally does.

Although a bit shorter, this is probably the steepest route to Big Beacon. It takes a fairly aggressive route up the South side of the mountain, climbing 2,233 feet in about 1 3/4 miles. I pushed myself in sections of the hike and got a terrific workout.

Hiking up, I was concerned about getting a little too warm. However, there was a little breeze that was stronger at the top. After a snack, I relaxed in the Sun for a few minutes. As some clouds temporarily blocked the Sun, I actually started to get pretty cold.

Overall, the weather was really nice. I like Summer but afternoon hikes can get miserably when it gets up around 100 degrees. Days like this are the best. After laying in the Sun a while, I headed back down.

Peak Elevation: 7,135 Feet
Distance Travelled: 3.64 Miles
Elevation Gained: 2,233 Feet
Time on Mountain: 2 Hours and 33 Minutes

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