Little Cottonwood Creek Trail
The Little Cottonwood Creek Trail is a lower-altitude alpine ride that
starts right at the mouth of Salt Lake City's Little Cottonwood Canyon. The trail is a
fairly wide single-track with some rocky sections. It's usually open by May and can
be ridden until November. (Patches of snow may be encountered in early or late season.)
Out-and-back, the trail covers 7 miles. Elevation gain is 1300 feet. It's a quick ride,
but will test your thighs if you're not in shape.
portion of the trail, looking east (uphill).
Later, the trail becomes steeper and enters deep woods.
Photo June 18, 1999
The first portion of the trail is smooth hard-pack dirt
with a gentle slope. After a mile, the slope increases. Rocky sections will test your bike
handling skills. ("Endos" are common on this trail during the ride back.) Most
of the year, you'll encounter some water running in sections of the trail. We'd rate this
trail a solid intermediate with some short advanced portions.
Penstemon, among the more common wildflowers along the
June 18, 1999
||Even on weekdays, the trail sees fairly heavy use. But the trail is wide
and passing is usually easy.
of the trail is shaded by the woods, with spruce, maple, oak, choke cherry, and box elder.
The trail follows Little Cottonwood Creek up the canyon.
Bruce rolls down the upper section of
Little Cottonwood. May 4, 2001.
The boulders, and the canyon walls, of Little Cottonwood are granite from an
igneous intrusion that melted its way up through the existing rock strata about
26 million years ago. This rock brought with it minerals that created rich veins
that were mined in Alta and American Fork Canyon. The gold and silver
concentrates in nearby limestone, not in the granite itself.
After three and a half miles (and 1300 feet vertical), the
trail ends across the creek from an old ruin (GPS N 40° 34.231' W 111° 43.024'). Along
the creek, you'll see many reminders of the day when nature was to be conquered,
controlled, exploited, or destroyed.
An old ruin sits across the creek at the end of the trail.
June 18, 1999
A full-resolution video tour of this
trail is available for download from our Video
|Getting there: From the south, take the 90th South I-15
exit, which turns into 94th South. Continue east to the mouth of Little Cottonwood. Just
before the stop sign (where you turn right onto the road up the canyon), you'll see a
paved turnoff to your right taking you to the Temple Quarry Trail parking area. Park, and
head up the canyon on the dirt trail that parallels the paved Temple Quarry Trail at the
end of the parking lot. From the north, take Wasatch Blvd. When you see the illuminated
road condition sign at the mouth of Little Cottonwood, turn right then immediately left
again into the Temple Quarry parking. The trailhead GPS is N 40° 34.310' W 111° 46.441'.
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