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Named for Lucy May Van Cott, who was the first dean of women at the University of Utah (1907–1931), The dean of women position was responsible for handling student affairs for female students. This position was common in universities from the late 1800’s to the 1960’s when the position changed to be dean of students to more broadly serve all students.
Mount Van Cott is a popular hike. The summit is not particularly dramatic, more of a bump along a ridgeline, but the summit views, accessibility, and convenience make this popular for good reason.
Though only about 3 miles round trip, the hike is steep. Avoid this in the heat of the summer. It makes a great morning/evening hike in the summer, and anytime hike during spring/fall.
The traihead is near the Red Butte Amphitheater, on the southeast corner of the university. To get there, follow Foothill Drive north to Wakara Way. Go east on Wakara Way about 0.5 miles to Chepeta Way. Turn left on Chepeta Way (just before Myriad Genetics), and follow this road as it passes through a stop sign, then curves east. Continue straight past the Red Butte Amphitheater. The road turns to dirt and ends in a parking lot that is the trailhead.
From the trailhead, walk up the paved road past the gate. After 0.5 miles (5-10 minutes), a second gate is reached with an area closed sign. Go left here, on a well-used social trail. The trail branches a couple of times; stay right at the junctions as the trails consolidate and begin climbing on what appears to be an old road.
The trail climbs steeply for 1.2 miles from the road to the summit, gaining about 1200' in that 1.2 miles. Phew! Just before the summit, several trails merge coming up from the west side of the peak. The summit is a nondescript bump along the ridgeline. There are big views of the Salt Lake Valley, Antelope Island, and the Oquirrh mountains to the east.
Optional Return: To make a loop out of the hike, take any one of the social trails down from the summit. The most used one on the south-west ridge descends directly back to the trailhead and is the one I recommend.
12T 430387mE 4513334mN
N40° 46' 05" W111° 49' 29"
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12T 430944mE 4514020mN
N40° 46' 27" W111° 49' 06"
12T 430566mE 4514917mN
N40° 46' 56" W111° 49' 22"
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12T 430449mE 4514707mN
N40° 46' 49" W111° 49' 27"