The Skyline Trail in Red Butte Canyon is a great trail to experince Red Butte Canyon and it offers some great views of the Salt Lake valley. Red Butte Canyon is one of the few major canyons I had yet to explore so it was definitely one I have been wanting to check out for a while.
We kind of hiked here on a whim today. Last weeks adventure up to Mount Van Cott offered us an exceptional view into Red Butte Canyon and the reservoir so that was what I had planned to do today. I was a little surprised to not see any trail information but didn’t let that deter me. Well, suffice it to say you can’t get very far but we did find the Skyline Trail and it was actually a lovely trail.
Length: 2.89 Mile loop. With the option to add another ~2.5 miles if wanted.
Difficulty: DR4. There is some up, but it wasn’t too bad.
Elevation Gain: 640 Ft.
Dogs? Yes. Please clean up after your furry friend.
Other Info: Not recommended on a hot summer day. Not a lot of shelter.
To get here:
From i15 take the 4th south exit and head east keep going up the hill until 4th starts curving to the south and turn left on Wakara Way (about 4.4 m). At about .6 miles turn left on Chipeta Way follow this up about .6 miles past the Red Butte Gardens Ampithetre the road will turn to dirt, and there will be a small parking lot on the right hand side. A little east of 300 Red Butte Canyon Rd.
On the east side of the parking lot you will cross this road barrier and start the trail by hiking up this dirt road for about .63 miles.
So I mentioned I was wanting to head to the reservoir. I remembered seeing this road while up on Mount Van Cott so I figured we could just walk up there this way, well, that was the plan…
It is a lovely little walk. After our 2 grueling adventures, i was also looking for something a little easier and this definitely fit that bill. You will notice the fence on the right, which surrounds Red Butte Gardens.
Occasionally you get a view of the creek. It’s kind of dirty looking.
Eventually the canyon opens up to a nice small meadow.
Lovely green hillsides.
Nice view of the red butte on the other side.
After about a half mile, the fence for Red Butte Gardens ends.
And .63 miles later we hit a fence. Well this is interesting. I had read that Red Butte Canyon was the most pristine canyon and had become a research natural area, but I didn’t realize that meant we couldn’t explore it. Guess that explains why there was no trail info haha. Anyway, the gist of it is they preserve it and learn from it. It is an area that does not have a lot of hand of man in it, so it is a good area for scientists to study the natural area. Okay, I guess that makes sense. Still, it is kind of sad.
From here you have 2 options. You can go to the left and continue up Mount Van Cott from the other side than we did it last week, or you can go right and do the Skyline Trail. We decided to go right.
Bridge crossing the creek.
And into the woods!
It’s quite lovely in here.
More pretty wildflowers. Penstemmon I think.
Heading up along the canyon with more wildflowers.
And eventually you get a nice view down canyon.
This is actually a great trail! I am glad we decided to keep going, even though it was not our intended destination.
Looking up canyon.
And back towards the butte.
More flowers. Not sure what these guys are.
Deer leg in a tree. If memory serves me right, this is due to mountain lions. Yuck.
View down again.
Starting to hit some red dirt.
Mount Van Cott.
Looking down into Red Butte Canyon.
Back to the trail. It has some up, but so far hasn’t been too bad.
The ridge we will be crossing shortly.
Looking across the canyon again towards Mount Van Cott.
And I think we have reached the highest point on the trail. Great view!
Looking back up the canyon.
And down we go!
I kind of joked that this trail is the “Screw Red Butte Garden, We’re Not Gonna Pay To Hike Trail” because it well, basically skirts their property line. haha. I have nothing against them, in fact I am willing to pay to see the gardens they have created one day. I imagine they are just about as lovely as Thanksgiving Point. But yea, screw paying to hike.
Another lovely forested section.
The Red Butte Quarry House.
Beneath a quarry of course.
Ensign Peak. I feel like I have mentioned this one a lot latey. While I do really like that trail, it just happens to be a prominent peak from this area.
Little closer to the Quarry House. Unfortunately it is inside Red Butte Gardens fence line so you can only access it from there.
Old wall of some sort.
Another short forested section.
Mount Van Cott again.
Looking down the canyon.
Another little patch of trees.
I certainly recommend coming the way we did as the descent down seemed a little steeper. As you can see we are still skirting Red Butte Gardens.
Eventually the trail levels off again. It takes you around the Natural History Museum of Utah.
And offers a great view of the valley below.
Leaving Red Butte Canyon with a view of Mount Van Cott.
There is a small trail split. The main trail continues to Georges Hollow connecting to The Living Room trail…
…and the lower trail switchbacks down the south side of the Natural History Museum to the Bonneville Shoreline Trail.
Hitting the BST at about 2.29 miles.
Neat sign. It reads:
‘In Harmony with the Land
An ideal hillside trail prevents erosion by matching the contours of the land - while leading trail users to adventure and contemplation. Hikers and cyclists had created a spiderweb of erosion-prone short-cuts; new and rehabilitated trails enhance and preserve the site. As the trail designer says, “Less is more.” If trail users follow these designated routes, we can minimize new erosion.’
See, there is always a reason why they block shortcuts. Not only does it help reduce confusion, but also it helps erosion. Be a good trail user, and try to follow what the rangers and planners ask. It’s not just because some jerk says so.
Looking south towards Geroges Hollow.
This section of the BST is really wide and well maintained.
I love how they managed allowing visitors to the museum and the gardens across, while still maintaining the popular shoreline trail.
The Natural History Museum of Utah. Kind of a neat building.
And Red Butte Gardens. Stay on the BST, we made the mistake of going up to the gardens, but it won’t let you back to the canyon.
Back on the BST.
Shot of Mount Van Cott from below.
Red Butte Creek.
You will pass the Red Butte Garden Amphitheatre.
And then will be back on the Red Butte Canyon Road you came up.
Almost back to the parking lot.
A peek through the fence into the gardens. Nice little pond. I really do need to go explore there soon.
After reviewing google maps I have determined we did a shorter inner loop. In blue. You can add about another 2.5 miles or so and do the longer full loop in orange.
That was an excellent, unexpected adventure. Like I mentioned I am a little disappointed you can’t hike to the reservoir, but I did enjoy the random side trip we did today. I was actually pretty surprised we didn’t see a lot of people. I guess most people hike up Mount Van Cott from here instead. But it was totally worth the adventure. Going with 8 out of 10 squirrels.
As for difficulty, there was certainly some UP but nothing like the last 2 adventures we did, and it wasn’t grueling and didn’t continue for too long. Going with a DR4.
Dogs are allowed, leashed. Please clean up after your furry friend!