Sunday, April 19, 2015

Bell Canyon - Lower Bell Reservoir

Lower Bell Reservoir is probably one of the most beautiful, and scenic reservoirs I have been to myself. It has a great color, and a beautiful backdrop. Not to mention it looks almost completely natural. It is a great short destination hike, and if you have more energy, you can keep going to 2 waterfalls, and even to an upper reservoir. Although, I haven't made it that far myself. After last weeks adventure in the snow, I thought I would try something a little lower in elevation.

There are 2 separate trail heads. The Boulders trailhead is .5 miles and is a bit steeper. The Granite Trailhead is .71 miles and is a bit less steep. Last time we hiked this we took the Boulders Trailhead so I decided to try the granite one today. I’m not sure which I prefer at the moment. Anyway, this trailhead is just east of the intersection of Wasatch Blvd. and Little Cottonwood Canyon rd. Quickest directions are: from i15 take the 9000 s exit. Follow that east as it turns to 9400 s, then Little Cottonwood Canyon rd. After you cross Wasatch Blvd. look for the small parking lot on the right. If you enter the canyon, you went to far.


Little Cottonwood Canyon. (DBP) You can just make out the trail head near bottom right, where all the cars are. So, see its not far above Wasatch.


The first section of this trail is rocky switchbacks.


Drill marks. Weird.


Before long you are high enough to start getting a great view. Unfortunately the sound of cars on Little Cottonwood Canyon Rd. Accompany you all the way to the ridge.


The switchbacks continue up above the mound. If you look closely you can see just how crowded the trail is! Tons of people coming up and down.


Steep and rocky.


Little Cottonwood Canyon.


After cresting the ridge we see we have to cross this small canyon before getting to the reservoir. At least it doesn’t look as steep.


Less steep, less rocky, easier climb here. There was a short spot that was on a steep slope but it wasn’t too bad.


Great view of the valley from up here.


And we have reached the reservoir. It is so pretty!


Looking into Bell Canyon. My original plan was to just hike around the reservoir, and well, one thing led to another.. and suddenly we found ourselves hiking further up.


And this is what brought me up a little further. I was certain you could see the waterfall from down here, and I wanted to return with my telephoto lens to confirm it. This is from the bench next to the small side trail that goes up into Bell Canyon.

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Quick crop job. Yes you can see the waterfall without climbing all the way up to it, you just need binoculars.


I pushed us up all the way to the creek.


We found a small side trail with some large boulders so we decided to scramble up and around them.


Boulder field.




Taking in the scenery.


What’s this?


A fallen tree is growing family trees. I didn’t know we had trees that did that, I thought it was just a Redwood thing. We have our very own Candelabra Tree right here in our own backyard.


Candelabra Tree in Trees Of Mystery from our Redwoods Trip.

To be honest I may have seen this locally before but never paid any attention to it. But now that I have seen some cool HUGE examples of it in The Redwoods, it is kind of neat to see locally. I guess it makes sense since Redwoods are related to other conifer trees.


Now, I am no expert, whatsoever. However I believe this is possible with our Utah conifers because the tree split and fell over. So, it is still connected to its root system. Just a guess. I think it is pretty cool.

As much as I always enjoy finding new trails, this is the benefit of returning to a trail, checking out the side trails and see what other interesting things you can find.


From the other side.


A couple of primitive campsites up here. Well, we were having fun exploring but it was time to turn around.


Under the first big boulder.


Back to the creek crossing. Definitely not as crazy as it was last time I was here.


The creek is quite pretty.

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Little panoramic of the creek.


Looking down stream.


The peaks above.


Tree tunnel.



Eventually we returned to the old dirt road that goes around the reservoir, and then some. We followed it for a minute before realizing it didn’t go around the reservoir. So, we turned back and found the first trail down that appeared to follow it.


Little spring.


Through the reeds. This whole sections appears to be a big ol swamp.


Unfortunately the foliage blocks the view of the lake. I am pretty sure there is a lower trail that goes around the shore, but it took us a minute to eventually get down to it.


Starting the really green up in here.


View of the creek from a good sturdy bridge.


Some greenery.


Looking south towards Draper and a couple canyons I still need to explore.


Eventually we found a suitable trail back towards the lake.


Which has nice clear water.


See, very pretty.


Where the creek enters the reservoir.


There are quite a few benches around the lake to take a rest at. the geese and ducks have apparently learned they might get food from people sitting on them as after I sat down these two eventually showed up.. followed by a couple of ducks.




Duck coming in for a landing.


Pretty bright green head.


Great view.


Where the creek exits the reservoir.

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Bell Canyon above Lower Bell Reservoir.

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Another shot of the waterfall above. It is definitely not raging as much right now as it was when we hiked up to it. It is only 2.3 miles so it is worth checking out.

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Nearing the starting point, but still a lovely view.

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Parting Panoramic.


On the way in I noticed these strange shaped boulders, and noticed a small trail heading towards them. thought I would check it out on the way down.


Split rock.


I noticed these weird ridge marks on the larger boulder.



And again on the back of the split rock. This, combined with the rock towards the trail-head put it all together. These rocks had been split by the hand of man. Drilled into at regular intervals. I thought about it for a while wondering why in the world they did this, it’s not on the trail, or the access road. It doesn’t look like it was posing a threat… And then eventually it dawned on me. The Temple Quarry is right around the corner from here. Perhaps some of that activity carried over to here. I haven’t checked out the Quarry yet, but plan on visiting soon to see if I can confirm this thought. What I do know is that Temple Quarry is where they mined the Granite they built the Salt Lake Temple out of.


Our very own miniature half dome.

So whether this was part of the history of the temple, or something else all together it is kind of a neat little pile of boulders to explore.


Some flowers coming up.

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Finally got a butterfly sitting still. I have got to say, I have never seen so many butterflies on a trail, and none of them sat still long enough to get a picture, well, until now.



A couple more rocks showing drilling activity.


Flowers near the trailhead.

Well that was a great trail. It is very, very popular and probably the most crowded trail I have done that wasn’t in a National Park. Well, to the reservoir. Beyond that the crowds do thin out quite a bit. Between the couple of side trails, and going around the reservoir we ended up stretching this into about a 3 mile adventure. We saw a lot of interesting things. And the reservoir is really, one of the prettiest ones around, crowds or not. Plus, there aren’t any boats on it. Removing one squirrel due to just how crowded it was.

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As for difficulty. The Granite Trailhead is a lot easier than the Boulders Trailhead. However the first section is pretty steep and rocky. Going with a DR3.

Bell Canyon is watershed so dogs are not allowed.

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