Recent Hikes in the Canyons

Cecret Lake – Big Cottonwood Canyon – September 9th, 2015

It’s so secret they spelled it with a ‘C’. This is a very easy 1.5 mile hike up through the Albion Basin region of the Wasatch Range. The trail takes you through some ski resort areas and in the summer can include a massive display of wildflowers, but being fall, the flowers were gone for my trip. Cecret Lake is home to a special species of tiger salamander, Ambystoma tigrinum. The locals call them “Mud Dogs” and I was lucky to get some pictures of them. Maybe those guys are the ‘secret’ to the lake?

Ferguson Canyon – Mill Creek Canyon – September 17, 2015

This hike is very steep and about 3.2 miles long. The vistas of SLC at the peak are worth the effort though. There are several areas for rock climbers along the trail and a few small stream crossings.

Willow Lake – Big Cottonwood Canyon – August 26, 2015

This is a 2-miler with about 600ft of elevation gain. This lake is not part of the Wasatch National Forest like most of Big Cottonwood Canyon, but instead is owned and managed by Utah Open Lands, a non-profit that buys up private land and then manages it for public use.

At the beginning of the trail our group ran into a momma-Moose and her calf. Luckily, she was very calm and allowed us to pass and take some pictures. We were all surprised to see a Moose so close to the main road.

Rattlesnake Gulch Overlook – Mill Creek Canyon – November 3rd, 2015

Late fall has come and now an evening hike has become a night hike. There won’t be many good photos from my weekday hikes until spring time comes back around.

This hike was a gradual climb with the exception of one location where trekking poles were needed to help overcome the elevation.

This hike would be great to do at night in the summertime with a Uinta 801 Pilseners in tow.  The view of SLC was phenomenal from the overlook — especially at night.

China Meadows – High Uintas Wilderness June 19th-21st 2015

The goal was to reach the Red Castle on Saturday — a tall mountain-like crimson-hued formation deep in the Uinta Mountains of eastern Utah. We left SLC on Friday and drove through Evanston, WY (and grabbed some beer, natch — Oksar Blues, Teton Brewing Co., and their ilk.)

On the way to China Meadows in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest we had to pass through Mountain View & Lonetree, WY. Mountain View was a pretty little town nestled at the base of the Uinta mountains.  On SR 414 into the forest we ran into a cow traffic jam that held us up for a while as several cow-wranglers maneuvered their herd into a new plot of land.

There are several campgrounds on the way to China Meadows and actually two different ones with that name: the China Meadows campground and China Meadows Trailhead campground, we decided to go to the trailhead-based campsite as the eponymous christened site was relatively un-sheltered by trees and was next to a small lake — we feared the mosquitoes that may dwell there.

The next morning we started on the trail to the Red Castle. It is about 12 miles each way to the rock formation. Our plan wasn’t to go the full way which requires backcountry camping. If we made it within view of the rocks I’d call it success.

The hike is beautiful, lot’s of water, open meadows and high mountains at every turn. We spot a male moose but it is moving too fast to snap a photo — which is fine with me.

Finally after about 7 miles of hiking, we able to see the Red Castle on the horizon! It doesn’t look very red from our distance, and with another 5 miles to go to reach the lake at its base, we decide to turn around to make it back to camp before night.

On the trek back we ran into several groups of people, some on foot others on horse. I caught a glimpse of the rear end of a black bear running off the trail to avoid a dog that was accompanying a group on horseback. I was very glad to see them and not have to deal in any major way with the bear!