|Mormon Pioneer Trail
||The Mormon Pioneer Trail climbs from near Little Dell
Reservoir up to Big Mountain Pass, following the path blazed by the Donner
Party and followed by the Mormon pioneers. This trail is quite smooth, but
gets a bit steeper as it climbs the switchbacks to the pass. It's easy-intermediate technical, but pretty strenuous aerobic.
View up the trail, as the singletrack
crosses the road. Photos by Bruce, June
| Starting altitude is
6040, with 1000 vertical feet of climbing, much of it in the last couple
of miles. At the top of the pass, you can link to the Mormon
Trail in Little Emigration Canyon, ride around the advanced-tech Lookout
Peak loop, or ride south towards Bald Mountain.
|If started from Little Dell, the ride is 5.4 miles each way;
from the roadside parking, 3.5; from Affleck Park, 2.5. The first half of the ride is in the canyon bottom in box
elder, maple, and oak. This part can get a bit warm on a hot summer day,
as the trees raise the humidity and block the breeze. It will actually
feel cooler when you reach the exposed hillside and start climbing in
earnest. Grind your way up the switchbacks.
Typical trail view from the first
section, riding near the creek in box elder and maple.
Some riders (who don't feel the need to earn their vertical)
will use a shuttle car to dump them at the pass, then pick them up
downhill for another trip to the top. Excellent idea, if you can find
somebody who's willing to stay in the car.
Dogs are NOT allowed in this area. Parley's Canyon, up to Big Mountain
Pass, is Salt Lake City watershed.
A friendly rodent emerges to see what
loud clothes the bikers are wearing today.
|The end of the ride is the historical marker at Big Mountain
Pass, GPS N 40° 49.687' W 111° 39.244'. There's a parking area here for
unloading downhillers. From this point, you can also descend the Mormon
Trail down Little Emigration Canyon, or head north or south on the Great
Western Trail. Admire the view a minute, then turn around and bomb back
down to the trailhead.
View from Big Mountain Pass, looking
back down the canyon.
Affleck Park trailhead (2.5-mile): For a shorter ride, drive another
0.8 miles uphill, then turn left and descend to Affleck Park. Keep right and
proceed uphill to the north end of the park, and find the sign indicating the
Mormon Pioneer Trail. (The return trail is across the creek.) Subtract 1 mile,
for a 2.5-mile ride each way
Little Dell trailhead: At mile 2 after exiting the freeway, turn right
into the Little Dell recreation area (fee required). Roll down to the trail
parking lot near the water. Trail begins paved at GPS N
40° 46.622' W 111° 41.317', then turns to cinder as you pass close by a
picnic table. This option adds 1.9 miles each way, and 300 vertical feet of
climbing. There are a couple of turnouts on the R side of the road about 1/2
mile past Little Dell, where short trails drop downhill to join the Mormon
Ride Notes, from Little Dell trailhead:
0.0 Ride north on pavement towards picnic table, go past onto
0.25 Trail turns to dirt DT, go straight N through gate
0.3 Fork L on singletrack
1.65 Go R across bridge
1.9 Reach parking area. Turn L on pavement, go 100 feet, then turn R
2.7 Affleck Park, join DT. Keep straight uphill past gate, then R
over creek, then L (uphill)
2.9 North end of Affleck, keep straight on cindered trail, becomes
4.8 Cross road
5.4 Parking area at top of Big Mountain Pass
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