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Dog Lake (from Butler Fork)

Basics
Location:
In Big Cottonwood Canyon southeast of downtown Salt Lake City
Length:
5 mile roundtrip
Difficulty:
Easy
Time:
2-3 hours
Elevation Change:
1680 feet
Season:
June to October

Description

The prettiest part of the Dog Lake loop is probably the first two miles of the hike, along Butler Fork. Butler Fork meanders northward through a narrow canyon filled with dense groves of quaking aspen, eventually emerging into a more open forest of Engelmann spruce and Douglas fir along the ridge above Mill Creek Canyon. It is not uncommon to see moose along this part of the trail. Look for their hoof tracks along the path-similar to deer tracks, but two to three times larger.

The Lake itself is located in a shallow, heavily forested basin just south of the ridge that separates Mill Creek Canyon from Big Cottonwood Canyon.

Although Dog Lake itself lies outside the Wilderness boundary, Butler Fork is part of the Mount Olympus Wilderness Area and you cannot bring a dog on this part of the hike!

Details

Location:
In Big Cottonwood Canyon southeast of downtown Salt Lake City
Length:
5 mile roundtrip
Difficulty:
Easy
Time:
2-3 hours
Elevation Change:
1680
Season:
June to October
Additional Details:
About 0.5 mile from the Butler Fork Trailhead you will encounter a fork in the trail, with the better used left fork leading to Mill A Basin. Take the right fork for Dog Lake. The trail climbs steadily for another 1.8 miles, finally coming to another fork about 1,680 feet above the trailhead at the top of the ridge. Again, bear right along the crest of the ridge. As you near Dog Lake, about 0.5 mile further east along the ridge, you may be confused by a number of trails that branch off to the north and south. Pay attention to the map, and remember that Dog Lake is just a short way below the ridge on the south side. If you start climbing abruptly to the south you are probably headed for Renolds Peak. If you start descending abruptly to the north you are probably headed down into Mill Creek Canyon. Look for Dog Lake just a few hundred feet after the trail begins descending to the south.

From the southeast corner of Dog Lake a well used mountain bike trail descends for 0.6 mile to another trail junction. Here you will see a sign directing you to either Desolation Lake (left) or Mill D Trailhead (right). Take the right fork to the Mill D Trailhead. You will see a lot more hikers on this side of the loop than you saw along Butler Fork. There are also some summer homes along the east side of Mill D North Fork, and you may catch glimpses of another trail below you that follows the east side of the creek. You will arrive at Big Cottonwood Canyon and the Mill D Trailhead about 2.4 miles after leaving Dog lake.

Map + Directions

Basic Directions
From Downtown Salt Lake City, head south on I-15 about 8 miles to the I-215 Belt Route. Take I-215 East about 5 miles to 6200 South (Exit 6). Bear to the right off the exit ramp onto 6200 South and head east. (It'll turn south after a bit and and merge with Wasatch Boulevard, but just stay on the main road.) Follow it about 2 miles to the light at Big Cottonwood Canyon Road. (On the southwest corner of the intersection is a 7-Eleven gas station and mini-mart.) Take a left and head up canyon. The trailhead is 8 miles past the canyon entrance on the north side of the road. (Note: Along the trip from downtown you'll see large signs to the Solitude and Brighton ski resorts. These resorts are at the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon, so if you follow those signs, you'll get to Big Cottonwood Canyon just fine.)

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