City Creek Canyon |

Salt Lake City

Hiking City Creek Canyon - Salt Lake City Hiking City Creek Canyon
Salt Lake City

Overview | Getting There | Route | Photos | Maps | Comments

Overview

RATING: Easy/Moderate Hike
LENGTH: 1+ hours
MAPS: SALT LAKE CITY NORTH, UT; FORT DOUGLAS, UT

Fri

95 | 70

Sat

95 | 73

Sun

90 | 67

Mon

92 | 66

Tue

87 | 66

View Full Weather Details
SEASON: Any
WATER: Available in the summer at several water fountains in the canyon.

Fri

95 | 70

Sat

95 | 73

Sun

90 | 67

Mon

92 | 66

Tue

87 | 66

View Full Weather Details
City Creek

City Creek

A stone's throw from Salt Lake City, City Creek canyon feels a world away. The pioneers, when they settled Salt Lake, used water from City Creek to irrigate their fields, and help develop the budding city. The canyon is still used as part of the city’s water supply today, with a water treatment plant situated several miles up the canyon. Historical fun fact, the upper reaches of the canyon have both a mining history, and a bootlegging history.

City Creek Canyon is one of my favorite quick outings in the city. The gentle but unrelenting uphill paved road makes for excellent running, biking, or just taking a stroll. From the gate, dogs are allowed about 3 miles to where the canyon becomes a watershed. Beyond that, dogs are not allowed. The trail can be busy during prime weekends, but generally most seem to stay in the lower canyon. Once you get 1.5 or 2 miles up, the number of people greatly subsides. My favorite parts of the canyon are near the top, about 5.5 miles from the trailhead.

A few notes for visiting:

  • The canyon is gated and closed to vehicles except on even days between Memorial Day and the last even day in September. Hikers and runners are welcome anytime. Bikers are allowed on odd days between Memorial Day and the last even day in September, and anytime October through Memorial Day. There is small fee to drive up the canyon, currently $3 (2020) but hikers and bikers do not pay a fee.
  • During the summer, when cars are allowed, picnic sites are available by reservation from Salt Lake County ( https://www.slc.gov/utilities/city-creek-canyon/ ). This is a great place for an evening picnic during the summer, and typically not very busy.
  • In summer months, there are several restrooms and water fountains available along the paved road.
  • A single-track dirt trail parallels the road for about 3 miles. This is accessible via many short side trails from the paved road. Bikes are not allowed on the single track. Be mindful in the summer, as this trail seems to have a fair number of rattlesnakes.
  • In the winter, the canyon road is plowed about 3 miles to the water treatment plant. This is an excellent bike or run when everything else is covered in snow. Service vehicles do use the road in the winter, but typically low volume. Beyond the water treatment plant, the road is not plowed in the winter.
  • Parking at the trailhead can fill up quickly in busy times of the year. Parking at the State Capitol and walking down adds some distance (a bit under a mile each way) but is a reasonable option, especially for bikers.
Spring at Rotary Park.

Spring at Rotary Park.

Getting There

City Creek Canyon is reached via a one-way road connecting the Avenues neighborhood to the Marmalade Hill neighborhood. From downtown Salt Lake City, go east on South Temple to B Street. Go north up B Street to 11th Avenue. The left (west) on 11th Avenue. It curves and goes north into City Creek Canyon. Where the road curves back to head to the Capitol is a small side road on the right with a few parking spots This is the trailhead.

Jagged cliffs in upper City Creek

Jagged cliffs in upper City Creek

Route

From the trailhead, head up the paved road. The first 2 miles or so meanders through the typical SLC foothill ecosystem, with conglomerate cliffs and boulders interspersed. The cooling babble of City Creek is a constant companion throughout.

Beyond about mile 2, conifer trees slowly become more and more prominent. The watershed boundary, at 2.8 miles is the turnaround for those with dogs. Just beyond this, the dirt trail that has been paralleling the road joins the road at site 17.

The water treatment plant is just past site 17. Beyond the water treatment plant, the road surface gets a little rougher, and the canyon narrows and is more forest like. Rotary Park is marked by a large sign and restroom about 4.5 miles from the trailhead.

Rotary Park was completed in 1927 must have been quite the gathering place back when the canyon was open to motor vehicle all days. The park is still maintained, and the picnic sites available by reservation. The park extends about a mile with many picnic sites and two restrooms before the road ends. The area around the park is heavily wooded, with towering limestone pillars and cliffs. It is quite stunning. Where the road crosses city creek and set of stone stairs leads down a spring coming out of a cave in the rock.

A closed jeep road that becomes a dirt trail continues beyond the end of the park, but most return from here. The hillsides around the park were the site of several mines and bootlegging back in the late 1800s to early 1900s.


Maps

Route - Main Road / 11.48 miles / Elevation Range 4,695 - 6,052 ft.
Printable Maps:
Trailhead

12T 425916mE 4516031mN

N40° 47' 31" W111° 52' 41"

Boneville Jct.

12T 426398mE 4517091mN

N40° 48' 05" W111° 52' 21"

Site 8

12T 426979mE 4517405mN

N40° 48' 16" W111° 51' 56"

No Dogs Beyond This Point

12T 429200mE 4518249mN

N40° 48' 44" W111° 50' 22"

Site 17 - Single Track Trail End

12T 429497mE 4518360mN

N40° 48' 48" W111° 50' 09"

Water Treatment Plant

12T 429866mE 4518564mN

N40° 48' 54" W111° 49' 54"

Rotary Park

12T 431809mE 4519295mN

N40° 49' 19" W111° 48' 31"

End of Road

12T 433065mE 4519584mN

N40° 49' 28" W111° 47' 38"

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