Tuesday, June 24, 2014

City Creek Canyon: Meadows Trail

I have been wanting to explore City Creek Canyon for some time now. It’s a major canyon, so I figured it was one I needed to cross of my list. I am very glad I did.

Due to it’s unique cars vs bikes days rule it just hasn’t happened until today. Cars are only allowed on even days between Memorial Day and the last even day in September. There is also a $3.00 day use fee per car. I don’t think this fee applies to bikes or walking individuals. Maybe I will bike up it one day, it didn’t seem terribly steep. As inconvenient as this system is, I think it is for the best. The road is really narrow to have bikes and cars would be really dangerous.

To get here head to The Avenues in SLC and find B Street and 11th Avenue. (The north/south streets in The Avenues, near the capitol start at A street and go alphabetically east. While the east/west streets start at 1st and go numerically North.) B Street eventually turns into Bonneville Shoreline drive. Not long after you will see Canyon Rd. on the right. Shortly up that is the ranger station.


Terrible through the windshield shot of the road. As you can see it is pretty narrow. (Drive By Photography (DBP) Shot)


The water treatment plant. (DBP Album) Shortly before here the canyon becomes watershed and dogs are no longer allowed. This does mean they are allowed in the lower section.  There are 30 single and group picnic spots. 17 of them are below the watershed line.


Beyond the treatment plant the road somehow gets even more narrow, and is a lot less smooth. (DBP Album) There isn’t a lot of room for passing cars. Luckily, contrary to what I expected, there weren’t a lot of them up here today.


Vertical limestone fin. (DBP Album)


I had hoped that by showing the dashboard it would help give an idea just how narrow the road is. (DBP Album) The road only goes about 5.75 miles up but with the low speed limit, it does take some time to get there. No worries, I am enjoying our adventure so far.


And the view from the top of the (drivable) canyon. Now, we explore!



The first thing I sought to find, was kind of an exploratory adventure. I really could not find any information on it and really only had one random image to go off of. But I found it. Weeping Rock Memorial Grotto. Jthe name sounded interesting, the one image I saw was interesting, but I was seriously surprised at what it actually is. Holy crap this is neat!


So this spring (yes spring, it looks like a creek, that is how much water is coming out) originates somewhere back in this cave in this giant limestone mound.


View down.


Apparently this Rotary Club of Salt Lake, who also restored and continues to maintain the upper section of the canyon, also built these benches. However, I am still unsure who or what this is memorializing.


There are a lot of little caves in this formation. I imagine they “weep” sometimes, because when I heard weeping rock, I thought it would be dripping, like the Mossy Caves near Bryce. But no dripping, instead a freaking river coming out.


This is probably one of the most fascinating things I have seen locally.


Meh, best I could do without a tripod.


Bird nests.


It goes back quite a ways, but I honestly don’t know how far back. It is watershed, so even if I felt like crawling in, I couldn’t.


Oh look, another snake.


Bridge and a small waterfall.




The Rotary Club symbol in one of the group sites.


The parking lot at the end of the canyon. Surprisingly, there are an abundance of restrooms.


The drinking fountain has uh.. plenty of pressure. o.O


And on to the Meadows Trail! There is also a notice about a bear sighting from the 3rd. a) I guess I appreciate that. A canyon so close to the city, some probably wouldn’t expect that and I suppose it is good to be informed. b) I kind of hate this. This is the result of a lawsuit that should NOT have been won. Anytime I go out into the wilderness, I expect that I will, Oh I don’t know, run into WILDLIFE, in THE WILDERNESS. The Forest Service has signs saying there is wildlife, we don’t need those, and we certainly don’t need recent dangerous wildlife warnings. When you go out into the WILDerness, you should know what to expect. Otherwise, stay in your safe little city. Sorry, that whole lawsuit is a sore topic for me. Yes, I am sorry you lost your child, that is absolutely awful and I feel for you. Suing the state because you weren’t aware it is possible, absolutely ridiculous.


Anyway, on to the trail. It starts on what looks like an old ATV trail.


Interesting rock formations above.


The first of 3 bridges.


Nice clear water in the creek.


Spider web.


View of the creek from the bridge.


The second bridge. This one is a little shaky.


Well that trail sounds interesting, we might have to return to check it out one day.



And the third bridge. After this the trail goes from wide and comfortable, to very, very thin and overgrown.

Copy of IMG_4611

These beautiful blue butterflies do not sit still for a second! I am very surprised I managed to capture a picture of one!


A quick shot to show how thin the trail got.

Copy of IMG_4619

Pretty butterfly.


Thimbleberry flowers.

Copy of IMG_4623

Mountain bumble bee.


I love all the v-cut terraces up this trail.


Trail and creek. This trail is particularly frustrating because it is so overgrown, you can hear what sounds like possible waterfalls, but can’t see them, and can’t get through the overgrowth to investigate either. But it is really pretty so we kept going.


Some foresty shots.


The creek is really clear and pretty.


Trail is getting really thin.


Every once in a while the trail opens up and you can see the sides of the canyon.


And sometimes you can see the creek. You can hear it most of the way though.


Trail is getting thinner and thinner. The overgrowth also means more bugs. Shorts were not a good idea today.


Cotton from the cottonwoods.


Cliffs above.


Pretty purple flowers. You’d think I would know what they are called by now.


I saw the mountain bumble bee and thought I would get a good picture of it, and then I noticed it was hanging funny. What in the world?


Copy of IMG_4675

Copy of IMG_4732

Ah! It fell victim to a Flower Crab Spider. I am pretty sure this is specifically The Goldenrod Crab Spider. They are able to change from white to yellow in order to effectively ambush prey. They manage to blend in quite well! This is only the 2nd time I have seen one, and both times it was because they were munching on/preparing a recent catch. They also either do not like knowing you can see them, or are defensive of their catch. Either way, this time and last time, I had a hell of a time trying to get a proper picture because it kept moving away from me.


Picture of one I stumbled upon near Stewart Cascades.

I am usually pretty arachnophobic, but these spiders are just fascinating, both times I just stopped and marveled.  However, they camouflage themselves so well, I kind of fear how often I have walked right past or brushed against one!


It is very lush and green up here.



Hitting a nice pine section.


Little spring on the side of the trail.


And back out into the open. Can just make the creek out under all that vegetation.


And that is the trail. Well, we didn’t really plan on hiking today, and I wasn’t really prepared for it, not great shoes, and shorts were definitely a mistake today. So we decided we had a great time, but it was time to turn around. We did make it about 1.6 miles, quite a bit further than I thought. I still wonder where it leads. All I can find is that it eventually leads to Grandview Peak, but I would like to see the meadows.



I really like foresty shots, particularly when it’s all nice and green.


The creek again.


Wild snap dragons.


This is another good one to show just how thick the vegetation is.


The creek again. I think I like this one better.


Some small cascades.


Interesting rock outcroppings.


And we have reached the first bridge, almost back to the car.

Copy of IMG_4789

Black butterfly.

Well that was a fun unexpected adventure! I had planned on today just being a scenic drive with a few quick pit stops, and we ended up getting a really pretty hike in. I think I will need to return someday to see what else is up here.


And driving back down the canyon, we spotted a deer.


Hi little buddy!


Haha! Kind of a funny look, guess he/she didn’t want to lose sight of us long enough to turn the head around. :-p


And a last parting down canyon shot (DBP Album)

I really enjoyed our adventure today. I was really surprised the canyon was not busier then it was! We saw 1 car pass up going up, and a couple on the way down. And only a few groups of people on the actual trail. I guess I just thought this was just a more popular canyon (or we had good timing).

It was a wonderful adventure, but not having a lot of information on the hike removes a squirrel, and the $3.00 use fee will remove another. Particularly because combining the fee and the lack of info. We have to pay, and they do have a small pamphlet. Seems they could add some information to it so we had a better idea of what there was along the trails. So final rating 8 squirrels!

squirrels 8

As for difficulty, the grotto was a cakewalk, so that gets a DR3, and the Meadows Trail, even though it is really lush and overgrown, was fairly easy. According to an App Landis has, there was only 20 feet of elevation gain, which seems about right, it was really a gradual climb with no real steep sections (for the short bit we did). So DR3 for The Meadows Trail as well.

As for dogs. As I mentioned above, dogs are welcome in the canyon, below site 17 and the water treatment plant. Above that is watershed so they are not allowed.