Sunday, October 23, 2016

Little Cottonwood Canyon Trail - Fall

Little Cottonwood Canyon has trail that goes from the mouth of the canyon, up along the canyon bottom for a few miles. It’s a great trail that offers a lot of great sights. We did this one a couple months ago, but I thought it might be a good trail to catch the last of the fall color.


High granite cliffs and lots of trees.

Quick Details:

Length: 2.8 Miles one way.
Difficulty: DR3
Elevation Gain: 1090 Ft.
Restroom: There is a pit toilet at the trailhead.
Dogs? No. Little Cottonwood Canyon is watershed.

To get here, head to the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon. If approaching from 9400 south, just before the stop sign to turn onto the canyon road, there is a small lot on the right hand side. If coming from Wasatch BLVD. you will turn right where the 2 roads merge, and then immediately left into the small parking lot. If you pass the Park and Ride Lot you went to far. The trail is on the east end (heading up canyon).


After parking I just happened to look up at the cliffs above and well, I found a small band of mountain goats (near center).

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So I switched to my telephoto lens so we could see them closer.

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I always look for mountain goats here, but this is only the 2nd time I have actually seen any.

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From what I understand they usually hang out here at the mouth of the canyon from November to April. This family is a little bit early it would seem. Nice little surprise.

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I think these pictures came out a little better than the time we did the DWR Mountain Goat Viewing Event. They seem to be a little lower in elevation, and we are about 200 feet closer to the canyon wall. And I think I have better lighting.

Well that was an awesome bonus to the adventure today! Now, on to the hike!


Trailhead sign. Not to be confused with the small trail system to the south of the parking lot, The Temple Quarry Trail. That is pretty cool little trail system as well.

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The path is fairly wide and well packed.


Well darn. It looks like most of the fall color has dropped.


View up canyon.



Some nice colors.


I love fall!


I love the granite cliffs of this canyon.

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This one has a nice array of color.


The other side of the canyon (north).


We made it to the water treatment plant. The pool isn’t as deep as I thought it was.


And the trail continues.


Weird seed pods


Closer. They feel like wax paper, only more delicate.


Little bit of color left.


Rock structure above looks a bit like a rhinoceros.


Small clearing.


Side trail. Looks like it might lead back to the road. I wonder if there is a pull out there.

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Another great tree.


Holy crap! It is amazing what a couple of months does to Little Cottonwood Creek. It is barely a trickle right now.



Upper photo is today, lower photo is from June of this year from the last time we were on this trail.

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Another colorful tree on the first bridge. This is about a mile up.


Looking down stream.


The granite cliffs to the north.


They tried to cut this rock, but obviously couldn’t get through. This is another great example of the quarrying they did for the temple. More info can be found on the Temple Quarry Trail.


The creek again.


At about a mile and a half you reach Moon Rock.


Looking up creek.


Looking down creek.


Oh neat, another Candelabra Style Tree. So, in the Redwoods when one falls they send up new shoots that become new trees. I’m not sure if that is what is happening here but it looks very similar, and only the 2nd one I have seen in Utah.


On the other side of the giant boulder, some nice little waterfalls.


I think I now understand why it is called moon rock. This big boulder is in the path of the creek.



Just a general reminder, this is watershed and you aren’t allowed in the water, not even wading. I was watching where I was stepping.


As close to the edge as I wanted to get.


The creek above.


The little waterfalls again.


Old pavilion. It really is a shame the local teenagers have to come and spray paint stuff up here.


The almost empty creek.


And here it is from June again.


Some foliage left on the north slope.


The main trail again.


I think these are the thimbleberry plants.


Pretty side stream.


And the bridge over a bigger side creek.


And the side creek it goes over.

We decided that this would be the turn around point today. This is at about 2 miles. The trail continues for another 8/10 of a  mile and you can see the rest of that from my earlier post.


One red leaf amongst the brown.


Oh lookie, I found another Candelabra style tree. 3rd one in Utah, 2 on this trail alone.


Back down the main trail.



With the cliffs above.


The pipe that follows most of the trail.


Moss and leaves.


Little splash of color.


Well, they try at least. I wonder how many times they have had to scrub this rock.


Last light hitting the canyon walls.


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Little bit more color.

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Some color at this random patch of garbage.


Saw lifeflight flying overhead. Later learned a guy climbing the ice cut an artery on his crampons. Ouch! I think he ended up okay though.

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Little bit more color.


Tree starting to consume an old sign.


Cliff walls to the south.

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More color.

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Came across this cute fella.


Nearing the trailhead I started noticing the beginning of a neat sunset.

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So, naturally I hightailed it to a spot I knew of that offers a great view out of the canyon showing the great U shape. Not too shabby.

That was a great adventure. I am happy we did it again. Nice bonus of seeing more mountain goats too! Even though most of the fall colors have fallen, it was a nice trail. I think I liked that the extra leaves had fallen as it opened it up to view the canyon a little bit more. There are a couple spots where the trail is close to the main road and you can hear it, but not a whole lot. My biggest gripe, very popular with bikers. Keep your head up and watch out for them, they sure cruise down the trail fast! Unfortunately, not all of them follow the rule of yielding to hikers. If I see them coming down hill, I am okay with stepping to the side and letting them continue cruising down, but it’s when I am hiking downhill and don’t see them coming that it gets to be a problem. 8 out of 10 Squirrels.

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As for difficulty, there are a couple sections that just seem to be uphill but for the most part it is gradual, and the trail is nice and wide and well packed. DR3.

Dogs are not allowed in Little Cottonwood Canyon as it is watershed.

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