Sunday, May 21, 2017

Great Salt Lake: Lee Creek Area


Lee Creek is a nice area on the shores of the Great Salt Lake. It is the closest, and easiest lake access from Salt Lake City. It is a nice little area and is great for bird watching. I didn’t realize it at first, but we have actually explored this area before, though at the time I did not know the area was named.

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Antelope Island from the shore of the Great Salt Lake.

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An American Avocet. Very common here.

Quick Details:

Length: However much you want. It took us 1.4 miles to reach the lake today.
Difficulty: DR3. The soft sand is a little hard to walk on but it’s not too bad.
Elevation Gain: Not much to speak of. A couple feet max.
Restroom: No.
Dogs? Yes. A warning though: we came home with several foxtails attached to us. These can be very harmful for dogs so be cautious.
Other Info: This time of year the biting gnats are out. It’s not as bad as Antelope Island, but they are there.

To Get here:

From Salt Lake City, take I-80 to Exit #111, 7200 West. Turn right at stop sign then immediately turn left  onto the frontage road that parallels I-80. Drive west on this road about 5 miles to a small parking area to the north of the road. The parking area leads to a gated pathway that goes a short distance out into the lake.

The Hike:

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There are 3 access points, this is the middle one. You will know it is the right place by the information signs.

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Antelope Island.

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One of the info signs.

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Following the trail down up on this old causeway.

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An American Avocet. We actually saw a bunch of these guys today.

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Random rock art.

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Continuing down the causeway.

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Antelope Island.

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The Kennecott Smoke Stack. Tallest manmade structure east of the Mississippi.

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The old trestle. This started making me wonder if that is where we hiked out this way last time we were here.

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After about a half mile or so the causeway splits and there are some ponds in between.

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There were a bunch of American Avocets hanging out here. I pulled out the telephoto lens on the way back and got some better images I will share below.

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We decided to continue down the left causeway.

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More avocets.

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From here the trail is thin and overgrown. This is where the foxtails were the worst. You can avoid it by getting off the causeway.

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Nearing the end of the causeway.

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At about .6 miles you will reach the end of the causeway and be on the beach. Currently the Great Salt Lake is very low on water so it took us almost another mile to reach the shore, but that could change.

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No longer any trail, just beach, and footsteps to follow.

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Looking towards downtown.

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Google maps tells me we are near the location of the original Historic Saltair building. I did a little digging and it does seem right. Saltair I and Saltair II were built about a mile east of where the currently standing Saltair III was built.

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More debris.

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Salt covered rock.

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It’s a little.. discombobulating walking along a vast dry shore. I imagine it might be what it’s like to be lost in a desert, without being lost in a desert.

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Old railway trestle.

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This is where google maps points to as the Historic Saltair Location. I wonder if these were some of the original piers.

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Either way they are kind of fun.

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The original Saltair was really a pretty building. It is a shame it burned down. Image credit: Wikipedia.

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Continuing down to the lake.

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Some parts look like there was an old wooden pipe between the piers.

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Finally getting close to the lake shore.

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Antelope Island.

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And the shore! Oh, and you can see some remnants of the trestle out in the lake.

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Some more pillars.

It seemed like we walked forever to reach the water, but actually it seems slightly higher than it was when we were here in 2011.

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Wonky shoreline due to the lake being so vast and shallow.

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Stansbury Island.

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Antelope Island.

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The trestle looking towards land.

I was hoping to actually you know, see Lee Creek so I started walking east.

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Very similar to being at the ocean, just a little less noisy.

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Kind of looks like the ocean too.

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Antelope Island.

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Fun clouds.

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Bird foot prints.

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Antelope Island looks weird from this angle. We have only explored the other side really.

Oh, I took a 3D 360 Panoramic here.

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For whatever reason we changed our minds and decided to just head back to where we came and then visit the east parking area. Hindsight I wish I had continued east instead. But, we’ll get to that.

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Back to the vast beach. It’s weird you walk and walk and walk and don’t really feel like you are getting anywhere.

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The map says there is a small creek here, and there are signs of one, but I don’t know if it is named.

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Salt foam bubble.

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More clouds.

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And back to the causeway.

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Nearing the ponds again.

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I wonder if this is part of the old Saltair?

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Downtown again and oh, you can see the Red Butte we hiked below that last week.

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Back to the American Avocets.

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The look a little silly landing.

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Handsome birds.

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I like these birds, it is kind of fun to watch them sweep for food. They use their long, upturned beaks kind of like shovels.

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And one flying.

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Is that a baby? awwww!

I could have watched these guys for a long time… except we were being harassed by bugs so we decided to keep going.

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Flying.

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Downtown again.

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More avocets.

After this adventure we decided to check out the east parking lot and see what we might find. It is only .8 miles east down the frontage road.

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Gate with an opening for access.

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Nice wide old dirt road to walk down.

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Antelope Island.

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Eventually you come to another gate, with another opening, I was ready to continue along until…

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I spotted this old No Trespassing sign. Well now I am a little confused because the sign we saw at the main trailhead clearly showed the area beyond here as being part of the Lee Creek system. But, generally, I try to follow the rules so we decided to just keep going along the fence line for a while instead of crossing over.

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Nice little pond out there.

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Following around the old reservoir and the fence line. Doesn’t look like we will get very far.

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Antelope Island and an avocet.

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What I first thought were deer tracks, may have actually been antelope tracks. More on that in a minute.

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Whelp. End of the line. About .4 miles.

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The old, empty reservoir.

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Heading back to the car.

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I was curious what these things attached about every 10 - 15 feet along the fence were… oh, insect traps. ew.

Well, that trail was a disappointment. I was really hoping to reach Lee Creek itself but meh. If I ever return I will use the main trail and just head east instead of north.

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On the way home and what do we have here?

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Well that was a fun way to end our adventure, seeing a small herd of antelope. Can’t say I ever expected to see them here, but I guess, why not.

So on the adventure. The main trail was pretty neat, got to the lake, saw some avocets, and some history so that was pretty neat. The bugs only seemed to bother us on the causeway and only ran into 1 other group. Going with an 8 out of 10.

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The east area, I am still determining if the old No Trespassing Sign is leftover or not, but as is I say don’t waste your time. We got another ~mile to add to the hike, but otherwise didn’t really see much. 4 out of 10.

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As for difficulty: Both trails are generally flat. the main trail might have a ~10 foot incline to get up the causeway but it is gradual. However, the beach sand can be challenge all on it’s own. DR3.

Dogs are allowed. Please clean up after your furry friends.

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