Collins Gulch is a beautiful, steep gulch in Little Cottonwood Canyon. It offers multitudes of wildflowers, a small stream, and some really pretty hanging valleys. There are also wonderful views to take in along the way. I’m sure the views from Germania Pass are even better, but we did not make it that far due to construction up there right now. The other wonderful thing about this trail is; If the nearby Cecret Lake is too crowded for your tastes, this is a great alternative! Is it a bit on the tougher side though. Somewhat steep, and there is almost no shelter from the sun. Probably best done in spring or fall, or early in the morning.
One of quite a few Hanging Valleys you will cross.
Incredible wildflowers along the way.
Length: 2.61 Miles to the pass, 5.22 round trip, or you have loop options.
Difficulty: DR5 Very steep, full sun, wide packed trail though.
Elevation Gain: 1,850
Restroom: I found a porta potty at the trail head. I don’t know if it is always there, but there are a few buildings as well.
Dogs? No. Little Cottonwood Canyon is watershed.
Extra Info: Full sun! Plan and dress accordingly. Bring extra water.
To get here, go up Little Cottonwood Canyon. Take the Alta Wildcat Base turn off to the right. There is a large parking lot with a couple buildings. The trailhead is at the southeast corner of it. If you missed it, the Albion Basin is only about a half mile further up (and end of the line for paved road) so its not a big deal if you miss it and need to turn around.
The mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon (DBP).
View of the parking lot and peaks above. I learned those white cliffs on the right are The Hellgate Cliffs.
If I am understanding this correctly, as well as the nearby trails, if you wanted to could take this up over Germania Pass, past Cecret Lake, to Albion Basin (3.61 m) down the upper Albion Meadows trail (1.5 m), and down the lower Albion Meadows Trail (.5) for a good 5.6 mile loop. I might have to do that one day. I might have that wrong though.
The trail starts next to this Alta Ski Lodge.
And around and underneath the Wildcat chairlift.
Well that always makes me feel comfortable…
The trail follows an access road, so its fairly compact and wide. Which made the fact that that there were a few spots with steep drop offs much more bearable. I just kept to the mountain side.
flowers and mountains. I believe this is fireweed.
This is a great trail for wildflowers!
Looking back down towards the parking lot. Hey, I can see my car!
The first major switchback/hairpin turn.
So far the trail has been pretty miserable. We thought about turning back and doing something else, but agreed to give it a mile to see if it got better.
Beautiful Indian Paint Brush.
View across the canyon.
The wide trail again. You can tell I am hugging the mountain as there is a steep slope on the right side there.
Looks like they had to chip away at this rock face to get the road through.
I mentioned to Landis, even if we could, there is NO WAY I would drive up this road (you can’t). Hiking up it was enough!
Tree growing out of solid rock. I know it’s really common, but it still blows my mind.
This shot doesn’t capture it, but this part of the trail was rough. We had another debate about whether or not to continue.
Is that fresh tire tracks? They still use this?
Pretty blue flowers. I think this is Blue Flax.
About here I started to wonder about the hanging valleys. What could a hanging valley be? Could it be similar to Hanging Lake?
Nearing the top of the ski lift. This stretch was really tough. However, the good news is it gets better after here.
Exposed rodent tunnel?
Hello little guy!
There is a rather nice building all the way up here. I guess it is the Watson Shelter. Looks like they offer food, coffee, and warmth during the ski season.
Oh, well that explains the recent tracks on the road. Hrm. Should we continue?
And this is the first hanging valley, about a mile up. After this the trail gets a lot more bearable. And that is Mount Baldy in the background.
After being treated with this view we decided the trail was worth continuing.
River of bluebells and other wildflowers.
And this is what a hanging valley looks like. It just kind of, stops. Better examples below.
Another river of bluebells and Mount Baldy.
Getting closer to Mount Baldy. After the first mile the trail is a lot more bearable.
I love Indian Paint Brush.
Major trail split. Luckily the sign up there points left.
Loads of paintbrush!
View across the canyon and wildflower covered hills.
Wildflowers and Mount Baldy. This was my favorite part of the trail, Lots of trees and wildflowers above another hanging valley.
Trail through the woods.
More geraniums with dust covered leaves from the recent traffic up here.
So many wildflowers up here!
What do we have here?
A great example of a hanging valley. A lovely valley that just comes to an abrupt end before dropping off. Not as steep nor nearly as fascinating as Hanging Lake, but still neat!
Another view, with more of the ridge between Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons.
Flowers and trees.
I love seeing different layers of mountains. Also, I think this is the weird building I have seen high above Snowbird.
Flowers and trees.
Above that hanging valley.
Found this old cabin/shed building.
Oh, what do we have back here.
Looks like an old boarded up mine. Neat.
with a very mineral rich stream flowing out of it.
Locked up nice and proper. Even if it weren’t I don’t think I would be terribly interested in exploring it.
Another small hanging valley below.
Mount Baldy has some neat formations on it.
There’s snow up on that there mountain!
Bird in the path.
More layers of peaks. The ridge we are on, the ridge between Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons, and a mountain beyond. We are really up here! (We crossed over 10,000 feet in elevation somewhere along the way)
The trail swinging around beneath Mount Baldy (11,062 feet!)
Yellow wildflowers. I think these are Buttercups.
Mount Baldy again.
Scree field. Was hoping to see a pica, thought I heard one or two, but didn’t ever see one.
These are pretty.
Iddy biddy teeny tiny pond.
Well poop. I was really hoping to make it to the pass!
The sign says: Caution heavy equipment and large rocks falling. No safe access to pass. Travel not recommended.
It was Sunday on a (Utah) holiday weekend, and I am certain they were not working today, but we decided it’s better to be safe than sorry.
This decision came after taking a break and having a snack while enjoying the view.
The little pond again.
Well time to head on back down.
The Hellgate Cliffs. And mountains beyond.
The ridge between Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons.
Looking back up I see the pass, and the heavy equipment. It isn’t moving. Sigh, oh well. Again better to be safe.
View down the gulch.
The wildflowers are fantastic up here.
Mount Baldy again.
Indian Paintbrush with a view.
Lupine with a view.
I think this is a plantain-leaf buttercup.
Flowers and views.
Back down to the most prominent hanging valley.
I love all the lupine up here.
The pretty valley below.
I know, I’m sorry. I go a little crazy on the first couple good wildflower trails of the year.
With Mount Baldy.
View across the way, looks like a trail to a mine.
I think these might be groundsels.
With a river of bluebells.
Back down to the first hanging valley.
View into the valley.
Back down to the Watson Shelter.
Valley with Mount Baldy above.
This bird wants to go for a ride.
The gulley below.
So this particular hanging valley has had a little adjustments by the hand of man, but you can see they don’t hang precipitately off the side of the mountain.
Now that I think about it, Lake Solitude could probably be considered a lake within a hanging valley.
Wild geraniums are pretty.
Another snow machine.
Back to the little waterfall.
Just about any small valley has a line of bluebells going up.
Flowers along the slope.
Heavy equipment tracks.
view back down into the parking lot. Quite a few more cars.
Paintbrush and Lupine. I think this might be one of my favorite shots of the hike.
Fireweed and trees.
Sprinklers? They must be trying to re-vegetate.
The parking lot was practically empty when we arrived. What gives? Maybe people are a little smarter than we are and waited for it to cool down before heading up. We did see a few more people on the way down than on the way up.
Looking down the perfect U shaped canyon (DBP).
I am really glad we ‘finished’ the hike, well as far as we could get today anyway. That first mile was really miserable and we almost turned around, so I am super glad we didn’t. what a great hike with wonderful wildflowers all along the way. Seeing the hanging valleys was really neat to, and of course a little bit of wildlife makes it enjoyable as well. Plus, we hardly ran into any people at all, though a few more on the way down. Removing 1 squirrel for that first mile, and 1 the pass being closed. 8 squirrels out of 10.
As for difficulty, wow.DR5 definitely a whole lot of UP, and it is in full sun.
Dogs are not allowed in Little Cottonwood Canyon due to it being Watershed. So, save yourself the ticket, and leave Fido at home.