City Creek Meadows |

Salt Lake City

Hiking City Creek Meadows - Salt Lake City Hiking City Creek Meadows
Salt Lake City

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

Overview

RATING: Moderate/Strenuous Hike
LENGTH: 4-6 hours
MAPS: FORT DOUGLAS, UT; MOUNTAIN DELL, UT

Sun

65 | 45

Mon

65 | 47

Tue

65 | 46

Wed

67 | 47

Thu

68 | 47

View Full Weather Details
SEASON: Late spring, summer, fall
GEAR: Standard Hiking Gear
WATER: Filterable along the trail.

Sun

65 | 45

Mon

65 | 47

Tue

65 | 46

Wed

67 | 47

Thu

68 | 47

View Full Weather Details
Looking down City Creek Canyon from near the ridge.

Looking down City Creek Canyon from near the ridge.

Upper City Creek Canyon is one of the most pristine canyons along the Wasatch Front. Rules against dogs, horses, and camping are in the canyon, coupled with somewhat difficult access, have made this a lightly visited area. The hike to the meadows shows this light usages. Expect a trail that is occasionally hard to find in grassy meadows, solitude, and a very natural setting. On a July day, I was dazzled by butterflies and birds, with many more spotted than I have seen elsewhere in the Wasatch.

City Creek Canyon is quite narrow, deep, and forested. This is not a hike to do if you are looking for views. Most of the hike has dense forest views, though if you make it as far as the meadows, the views open up a bit. It is an excellent hike if wildflowers in the summer, fall colors in the autumn, or wildlife are your goals for the day.

Note: Because of the light use, I rate the hike to the meadows as intermediate. A keen eye to find and stay on the trail in several grassy areas is a must.
Ridge Note: The USGS map shows this trail continues past the meadows on to Hardscrabble Pass and the Great Western Trail at the ridge. I scoured the area past the meadows and only found small pieces of trail intermixed with sections of game path and more bushwhacking than I ever hope to do again! It is possible to get to Hardscrabble Pass, but it will probably be a challenge to get there unless you have better luck than I did. I got to the ridge, but will not do it again! The route shown on the map is my return route, which proved only slightly easier than the route up to the ridge. If going to the ridge, I would rate this an advanced hike.
So many butterflies in the canyon!

So many butterflies in the canyon!

Getting There

Note: Reaching the trailhead is only accessible by vehicle on even number days from Memorial Day in May to the last even day in September. On odd days, or out of that season, reaching the trailhead requires a 5.6 miles one-way hike or bike. See the Salt Lake City site for current details. (https://www.slc.gov/utilities/city-creek-canyon/) Currently, in 2022, it costs $3 to drive up the canyon on even number days.

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. Head up this side road to the gate.

After paying the fee, continue up the canyon to its end in about 5.6 miles. The road ends at the trailhead.

Looking north from Hardscrabble Pass

Looking north from Hardscrabble Pass

Route

From the trailhead, follow the old jeep road as it heads east. It is easy to follow here, and not long (0.4 miles) to the Smuggler Gap trail junction (signed). Stay left on the old jeep road.

The old road crosses the stream several times, all on bridges. It is about 1.25 miles to where Cottonwood Gulch comes in on the left (north) side of the canyon. Cottonwood Gulch was the site of mining activity in the early 1900s, and the Treasure Box mine is located in the gulch. It is easy to miss.

About 0.5 miles up from Cottonwood Gulch is a large weather station in a grassy area. This is the first route finding challenge. The trail crosses the grassy meadow, but can require a bit of hunting to find it on the other side. Continue past the weather station. The trail is generally easy to find and follow, but occasionally crosses grassy areas and requires a keen eye to find.

When the large landslide that makes up the distinctive south slope of Grandview peak is visible, the meadows are near! The meadow is a great lunch and turn around spots.

Advanced Hiker To The Ridge: Continuing up to the ridge past the meadows is challenging. I followed the trail for a short distance past the meadow, then it seemed to disappear in the grass. Bits of trail, and more predominantly game trails, allow for continuing up but there is much bushwhacking involved. Excellent route finding is required. The location of the trail on the USGS map does not seem correct, or the trail has long since been abandoned.

If you work up to the ridge, the Great Western Trail is reached at Hardscrabble Pass. I walked both directions a short distance on the GWT, assuming I would find a sign and better trail heading down into City Creek from above. I did not!

Return the same way.


Maps

To The Meadows and Back / 7.43 miles / Elevation Range 6,051 - 7,492 ft.
To Ridge and Back / 11.56 miles / Elevation Range 6,051 - 8,216 ft.
Printable Maps:
Trailhead

12T 433071mE 4519582mN

N40° 49' 28" W111° 47' 37"

Smugglers Gap Jct

12T 433614mE 4519746mN

N40° 49' 34" W111° 47' 14"

Cottonwood Gulch

12T 434885mE 4520169mN

N40° 49' 48" W111° 46' 20"

Weather station

12T 435579mE 4520187mN

N40° 49' 49" W111° 45' 50"

City Creek Meadows

12T 437489mE 4521140mN

N40° 50' 20" W111° 44' 29"

Great Western Trail

12T 439494mE 4522715mN

N40° 51' 12" W111° 43' 04"

Comments

Want to make a comment? Login and let yourself be heard.