Mount Van Cott is a 6339 foot high peak overlooking the University Of Utah. It was a bit of a tougher climb but it was so worth it for the amazing views of the Salt Lake Valley. And, I got to say I reached another peak! This is probably the best time of year to do this peak as there is absolutely no shelter, so it is not something I would do on a hot summer day. Like the nearby Avenues Twin Peaks there were a few spots that made me a little nervous, but ultimately it was a relatively safe peak to reach and was not really that bad.
Me on the peak, and the view from the peak.
Length: 3 miles round trip
Difficulty: DR5 this trail is UP and never stops going up.
Elevation Gain: 1315 ft.
Dogs? Yes, please clean up after your furry friend.
To get here:
From 700 east in Salt Lake City head towards 100 S and head east. 100 south will turn to the left and become North Campus Dr. Follow that as it winds around and then turn left on Medical Dr towards the Jewish Community Center at 2 North Medical Dr. There is a power station behind the community center with 2 parking spots for the trail. If it is the weekend, you can use the medical parking lot, but not the community centers.
The trail head is to the left or north of the power station. Pass through this access gate and you will follow the old dirt road for a short bit.
At first I thought this was the peak we were aiming for. hahaha… how wrong I was. This is the ridge leading to the peak.
After you crest the hill you will see a thin trail veering off the road. This is where you want to go.
If you keep following the road it will take you into Dry Gulch. Which has been on my list for a while, but we have yet to explore it.
I love the foothills this time of year. The hills are nice and green and the wildflowers are starting to come up.
Already getting a pretty decent view of the Salt Lake Valley.
Before long you will come to the next trail split. Take the thin trail up. To the right is the Bonneville Shoreline Trail.
More flowers. I think these are Arrowleaf Balsamroot.
It’s all over the place up here.
Flowers over downtown.
Helicopter taking off from the hospital.
Looking at the ridge above.
Oh boy a thin trail up along a steep slope. I am not a fan of these. But, I made it. I have been kind of pushing myself regarding my height issues a little bit and so far I am finding I only struggle on the way up the first time. On the way down, this was nothing.
Panoramic view of the valley.
Just before you round the bend into the next gully you will come to a 4 way trail split. The right goes down, but either other trail will get you to the top. The left goes up the spine, and forward goes around into Cephalopod Gulch, before heading up the spine. The trail guide we used didn’t mention this split, so we just kept going forward. After completing the trail I will say It looks like the ridge has a nice flat spot, which means an additional steep climb. I think I prefer the gradual climb.
Oh boy. More up!
And our first glimpse of the mountain we are going to summit. Mount Van Cott.
Cephalopod Gulch. We explored there a year or 2 ago, but it looks like I didn’t share that. Not much to it anyway.
Up up up towards the peak.
Thinner trail, but the slope is better.
The trail then turns to the left…
And steeply goes up to the ridge. Oi.
We decided to catch our breaths and take in the view. Downtown from here is nice, and you can see the ridge trail that we are about to join.
Hyung!!! This is a climb!
Looking towards the peak.
Where the 2 trails join. The ridge certainly looks a little easier, but I don’t know for sure. Either way you climb the same elevation.
Avenues Twin Peaks. Another easy to reach peak.
Looking into Dry Gulch.
View of downtown again.
The Great Salt Lake.
And up the ridge we go.
Not very good detail, but some sort of hawk.
A couple on the peak we are heading towards.
Still climbing the ridge. Kind of taking our time and taking a lot of breaks. I think that is making it a little easier on me.
The valley below. That green patch looks similar to Central Park in New York. From what I can tell it’s just a block between i15 and 215 with the Jordan River in the middle so it looks extra green.
Looking out towards the Great Salt Lake.
Looks like an attempted mine.
The super green foothills.
Nearing the next ridge.
Wildflower lined path.
One last steep ascent this is probably the worst of it.
Actually that wasn’t too bad. And it starts to level out and from here.
Terrible shot of a Red Tailed hawk. I only can identify these guys when they call.
Amazing clouds today.
Nearing the next ridge. Spoiler alert, it’s not a ridge.
Oh. not a ridge. Nice little flat area.
Oddly enough, the final stretch to reach the peak is probably the least amount of climbing you will do on the entire trail. It was a nice surprise. Nice little meadow up here.
And there is the peak.
Quite a nice stroll.
And we made it!
This appears to be what most people accept as the peak. And I can accept that to, but as you will see in a moment, it might be a false peak. However, this one has the better view.
Panoramic from the peak. Absolutely amazing view up here.
I also made a 3D panoramic. If you have google cardboard and 3D goggles you can enjoy a 360 degree view from here.
Red Butte Gardens below.
Avenues Twin Peaks and Ensign Peak to the North.
Me, stoked that I made it to another peak.
While playing on the peak we noticed this other nearby peak. So, we decided to go check it out.
Thin trail through some scrub oak.
Nearing the other peak.
This peak has a cairn on it, and I think it might be just slightly taller.
Red Butte Canyon Reservoir. Still need to explore that canyon.
Okay, so we hit both peaks on Mount Van Cott, but I think I like the other one better.
Red Butte Canyon again. You can actually head down that way if you decide on a longer adventure.
Looking down into the valley again.
Little Black Mountain.
360 Degree panoramic.
Well, we had our fun, I was actually quite a bit more comfortable up here than I was on the twins, it is not at all a scary peak. But, it was time to head on back. I did want to explore Red Butte Canyon, but didn’t want to add the extra mileage back to the car, so we returned the way we came.
Gorgeous hummingbird moth. I think this might be a White-lined Sphinx. But, I’m not 100% sure.
Back down the lovely meadow.
Looking back towards the peak.
Bird in the clouds.
Looking into Dry Gulch.
Looking down the spine.
Ensign Peak to the left, The Avenues Twin Peaks to the right.
Looking down Cephalopod Gulch.
Red Tailed Hawk again.
Down the spine again.
I found this neat stone circle. Not sure if it has any significant meaning, or just something students have built like the nearby trail The Living Room.
The split to go down the ridge. We decided to just continue the way we came.
I stumbled upon a rock with a bunch of cephalopod fossils on it.
This looks like Lupine, before the color comes in.
Trail going down.
Downtown and the capital.
You can just see the edge of the University Of Utah U.
And down the last switchback.
Flower covered hill.
One last shot of the green hills.
Well, that trail sure tested my fear of steep slopes a few times, but I managed to push through and made it to the peak. And then on the way down wondered what I was worried about in the first place. So this is a good, easily reached peak with absolutely phenomenal views! The wildflowers are starting to come up, and it was a perfect day to do this adventure. It was not as crowded as I expected, after we passed the BST we only saw maybe 6 or 7 people. 9 out of 10 squirrels losing one for steepness and the lack of trail signs.
As for difficulty, this trail starts out mildly, and then abruptly goes UP and doesn’t let up until the end. Going with a DR5.
Dogs are allowed, leashed. Please clean up after your furry friend.