City Creek Canyon is a surprisingly great canyon located behind downtown Salt Lake City. There are tons of nice little picnic areas and some hidden treasures to explore. We’ve only driven through the lower section before on our way to The Meadows Trail and I have been meaning to explore the lower section for a while now. With avalanche danger being pretty high right now, I thought this was a safer (not completely safe) lower elevation option.
Length: 5.6 miles total one way (after that you will be on The Meadows Trail). We did 1.5 today.
Difficulty: DR2 Paved, pretty easy and low grade.
Elevation Gain: 750. We did about 300
Restroom: Multiple! There is a flush toilette at the trailhead, and pit toilettes along the trail.
Dogs? Are allowed, leashed for about 2.8 miles to picnic area 16. After that is watershed.
Other Info: Cars are allowed on the road between Memorial Day and the last even day in September. There is a $3.00 area use fee per car. Since they are not allowed on Odd days or in winter, it’s a great canyon to walk or bike in.
Pedestrians should stay to the creek side (east ish) of the road going up and down. Downhill bikes will be on the other side.
Directions: From Downtown SLC take North Temple east. Once you cross state street it becomes 2nd Ave. 2 blocks later you will turn left on B street. Continue up hill to about 11th avenue where there is a fork in the road. Take the left fork which descends into City Creek Canyon on a one way road. The road will start curving east, and there will be a small road on the right called Canyon Road. Take that and drive to the gate and park.
If you feel so inclined, you can park downtown and add about 1.5 miles and add Memory Grove to your adventure.
The ranger station at the trailhead. FYI the restrooms are on the back side of this. I saw on the map there were restrooms here but could not find them when we arrived, saw them on the way down.
I had expected to be walking up a snow covered road. Considering cars are not allowed after September I didn’t expect it to be plowed. This was kind of a nice, welcome surprise.
Pretty easy going.
Nice winter hike.
Occasionally you get a view of the creek below.
And the mountains above.
The creek again.
I love creeks running through snow.
We found a little spring.
The water has to be warmer for the plants to still be happy a green, right? It’s not algae, it’s clovers and such.
Looking up at the mountains again.
Snowy tree tunnel.
Random little bridge. The front of it says Not a trail, so I’m not sure what it accesses.
Another little spring.
The are mile markers every half mile to help you gauge your distance. The snow was falling off and on, so I made the decision to reassess the situation at 1.5 miles to determine if we should keep going or turn around.
Entering a little open valley.
You can just make out the faint deer trail zig zagging up the hill.
Pipeline scar. I guess this is now a trail as well.
Looking up canyon.
Another mountain shot.
Looking down canyon.
Well we made it 1.5 miles up. The snow was coming down quite a bit now, so we decided that was enough for today. I still want to explore the canyon but this was a good start.
The 2nd of 2 pit toilettes along the trail (thus far, there are 9 total), and they are both a good ways off the road, meaning if you need to use it, you have to trudge through the snow. oi. This one is just below the 1.5 mile marker.
Looking down canyon again.
This one is about 1.3 miles up and was a little closer. I decided to venture out to it, and even in winter it is open and usable.
Signs to remind you what side of the road to be on. There are also signs for the bikers, so I think generally this is an enjoyable multiuse canyon.
Okay, getting quite a bit of snow, so we made the right call turning around when we did.
The creek through the woods.
Back to that spring we saw earlier. I decided to come a little closer. See, clovers and such. I tested the water, it wasn’t warm, but it wasn’t ice cold either.
The source. It’s kind of weird to see all this green against all the white snow.
The creek again.
Picnic area #2 is called Hidden Falls. Since generally humans tend to name things by what is nearby, I thought there might be a hidden waterfall. I didn’t see anything on the way up, so I decided to try to get a closer look on the way down. Hrm. nothing here.
Oh! I think I found it! Note, it is just slightly down canyon from the picnic site.
Had to find another path out to see it. It’s not very big but it is kind of neat. And yea, it is definitely hidden from the road.
Eh, it’s a nice waterfall.
It is a twin waterfall, but that is kind of hard to see.
And back down to the ranger station.
Tree covered in ivy.
View of the capital leaving the canyon (DBP).
And a terrible view of the city as you emerge from the canyon (DBP). My lens had fogged adjusting to the temperature difference in the car. but I still wanted to show it because it is kind of neat to see big buildings after emerging from a nice natural canyon.
Well. that was a nice winter hike. And we barely got up there. I was kind of hoping to see some wildlife, but didn’t have any luck with that today. The plowed road was a great unexpected surprise and sure made the adventure quite a bit less work. That combined with the fact that it is closed to vehicles in the winter made it nice to hike up a road without having to worry about cars. It appears to be a popular jogging/walking path so, follow the rules and stay to the creek side. Since we did not go all the way up I will not rate it.
As for difficulty, it’s paved, and it has a really gentle grade up. Going with a DR2.
Dogs are allowed, leashed for about 2.8 miles to picnic area 16. After that is watershed.