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Mill Creek to Desolation Lake Trail

Basics
Location:
Mill Creek Canyon
Length:
20 mile roundtrip
Difficulty:
Intermediate,
Advanced,
Expert
Time To Allow:
Over 6 hours
Elevation Change:
2300 feet
Season:
Opens July 1. Bikes are allowed on this trail ONLY on even-numbered days.

Description

The Upper Mill Creek Canyon trail starts on the Big Water Trail then climbs the Great Western Trail to the Wasatch Crest. The trail is smooth and fast. The wildflowers and trees are awesome. But you'll climb 2300 vertical feet over 6 miles, so come prepared to use some thigh! Upper Mill Creek opens July 1. Bikes are allowed on this trail ONLY on even-numbered days.

Details

Location:
Mill Creek Canyon
Length:
20 mile roundtrip
Difficulty:
Intermediate
Advanced
Expert
Time To Allow:
Over 6 hours
Elevation Change:
2300
Season:
Opens July 1. Bikes are allowed on this trail ONLY on even-numbered days.
Additional Details:
Important note: Dogs are allowed on Mill Creek Canyon trails, but don''t take Fido over the ridge into Big Cottonwood Canyon! The last mile of the ride to the Desolation Lake overlook, you''re in the Cottonwood Canyon watershed, where dogs are absolutely outlawed. If you''re caught with a dog in Big Cottonwood, you WILL be busted!

At 1.5 miles, the Big Water Trail turns towards Dog Lake. You''ll branch off on the Great Western. At 4.7 miles, the trail reaches the crest. Turn right (south) and continue the climb to Desolation Lake on the Wasatch Crest. You''ll reach an altitude of 9,800 feet.

Most riders do Upper Mill Creek as an out-and-back: 6.5 miles to the Desolation Lake overlook, then a lightning-fast 6.5 mile return descent down the same trail. For a little more awesome alpine views, continue another 3.4 miles along the Wasatch Crest before your turn-around, for a 20-mile round trip.

If you''re up to a little rougher ride on the return trip, try a loop by dropping down the Desolation Lake trail. Intersection of the Crest with the Desolation Lake trail is GPS N 40° 39.508'' W 111° 35.756''. After 2 miles and 1400 vertical feet of downhill, turn right up the hill towards Dog Lake at GPS N 40° 39.731'' W 111° 37.733. This 1/2 mile is a killer uphill; about 600 vertical. Don''t be ashamed to walk your bike. Ride past Dog Lake and pick up the original trail 1-1/2 miles later, then finish the last 1-1/2 miles down Big Water to the trailhead.

You can also ride this trail as a one-way from the Big Cottonwood side, which is how most riders do it. You''ll have substantially less vertical feet to climb, but you need a shuttle car.

Information provided by utahmountainbiking.com.

Map + Directions

Basic Directions
Get to Foothill Blvd on the east bench of Salt Lake City via I-215. Exit at 39th South. Take 3800 South eastbound into the Canyon. Drive all the way to the top of the canyon. The trail begins on the south end of the Big Water Trailhead parking area GPS N 40° 40.922' W 111° 38.914'. (Note: the gate to upper Mill Creek Canyon is open to cars July 1 to November 1. Mountain bikes are only allowed on upper Mill Creek trails on EVEN numbered days!)

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