Red Pine/Little Water Loop and Murdock Peak |

Millcreek Canyon

Hiking Red Pine/Little Water Loop and Murdock Peak - Millcreek Canyon Hiking Red Pine/Little Water Loop and Murdock Peak
Millcreek Canyon

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

Overview

RATING: Easy/Moderate Hike
MAPS: Mount Aire, UT; Park City West, UT;

Tue

32 | 26

Wed

34 | 22

Thu

27 | 25

Fri

15 | 11

Sat

20 | 4

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SEASON: Summer, Fall
GEAR: Standard Hiking Gear
WATER: Filterable along much of the trail. (and dog accessible)

Tue

32 | 26

Wed

34 | 22

Thu

27 | 25

Fri

15 | 11

Sat

20 | 4

View Full Weather Details

There are so many great hiking options from the Upper Big Water Trailhead. Short loops, long loops, riverside strolls, a peak to bag. I highly recommend all of the options described below, including an 5 mile loop hike that gently climbs along the Great Western Trail, with lots of water available for your pup and good views on the way down, the hike to the meadows at the headwaters of Mill Creek, and the push up Murdock Peaks with the best views of the area. This area does not have the dramatic exposed rock that is found in the Cottonwoods, but makes up for it with gentle terrain, lots of great destinations, and a chance to get your dog some exercise.

Getting There

Millcreek Canyon is on the east side of the Salt Lake Valley, just south of I-80 and Parleys Canyon. To get there, take I-215 South from I-80 and take exit 4 off of I-215 and go left (east) on 3900 South.

Turn left on Wasatch Blvd just after crossing under the highway, then the next right on Millcreek Canyon Road.

0.7 miles from the junction of Wasatch Blvd and Millcreek Canyon Road is the entrance to Millcreek Canyon and the pay booth.

Note: The upper road section above 3.8 miles is closed from November until July 1st. Upper canyon hikes are best done in the summer or fall to avoid a fair bit of road walking.

Mileage below is from the pay booth.

0.7 miles - Pipeline Trailhead on the left (north).
2.4 miles - Church Fork Trailhead on the left (north).
2.5 miles - Desolation on the right (south).
3.4 miles - Porter Fork on the right (south).
3.5 miles - Burch Hollow Trailhead (north).
3.7 miles - Terraces Picnic Area / Trailhead (south).
3.8 miles - Winter Gate Closure
5.4 miles - Elbow Fork Trailhead (Mount Aire)
6.9 miles - Alexander Basin Trailhead
8.3 miles - Lower Big Water
8.4 miles - End of the road and Big/Little Water Trailhead. This is the trailhead for Murdock Peak.

Route

Up Little Water on the Great Western Trail (1 mile)
Take the trail at the east end of the parking lots, signed as the Little Water Trail. The first trail junction is reached very quickly (0.1 mile). Little Water Trail, to the right, is mostly within coniferous forest, has plenty of water crossings, and goes up more gradually, while the Old Red Pine Road Trail, to the left, goes through aspen forest, has little water, and has a steeper ascent. The trails eventually meet; if doing a loop, choose the trail based on the time of day, temperature, and water needs.

Take the trail to the right and a bit steeply and then more gradually ascend along Little Water Gulch. The trail is above the stream, but there are plenty of social trails down to the water for thirsty dogs. The trail is a runner’s a paradise after the first bit of ascent- very gradual, free of frogs, and refreshingly shaded in the morning.

The next trail junction is reached shortly after crossing a spring on a small wooden bridge just after 1 mile. Straight will take you to Dog Lake and then an optional loop back to the trailhead. Right is a loop back to the trailhead and left heads towards the headwaters of Mill Creek, Murdoch Peak, and Desolation Lake.

Along the Great Western Trail for loop (2 miles)
The Great Western Trail contours along the hillside, always an easy ample with ample shade. Water is available at several points along the hike and the whole section only gains about 200 feet in elevation, making this section a pleasant stroll. Close to the end of this section, there is a trail sign for the Great Western Trail that ensures that hikers do not accidently get on the old trail. The landscape opens up with some meadows and views and then the junction with Old Red Pine Road is reached.

Option 1: Loop Back to Trailhead (1.9 miles)
Turn left at the trail sign to head down Old Red Pine Road. There is some water available at the start of this trail, but then none again until near the junction with the Little Water Trail. The hike passes through aspen forest and gets afternoon sun. After walking well above Millcreek for a while, the trail switch backs down to the stream, allowing dogs to get a drink. There is an unmarked junction at the stream. The Old Red Pine Road continues pretty obviously downstream or to the right. This junction might be more challenging to those heading up the trail. If on your way up, this junction will be reached in about 0.6 miles; go to the left away from the river to stay on Old Red Pine Road. The trail to the right quickly crosses Millcreek and then heads up the south side of the stream.

Continue along the trail back to the first junction and then continue right to the trailhead.

Option 2: Hike to Pass and Murdock Peak (1.6 miles one way)
Continue straight on the Great Western Trail through more open country with rolling hills and aspen along Mill Creek. Murdock Peak, with a storage structure on top, will come into view on the left. The ridge between Mill Creek and Canyons Ski Resort will be reached a few minutes later. The ridge is nothing spectacular, merely a grassy unsigned triangle of trails. To the right is the Great Western Trail continues on to Desolation Lake; dogs are not allowed all the way to the lake. Continuing straight/slightly left will lead down to the Canyons Ski area and Kimball Junction. There is a faint trail leading through the meadow to the left at the junction; this is the best place to start hiking up Murdock Peak but can be hard to spot. A second option is to walk just a bit further up the trail on the left to where there are several social trails winding to the main trail. It is worth doing just the first few minutes of the Murdock hike to get better views back to Kimball Junction.

A network of social trails makes its way up through the brush, grown over enough with shrubs that you’ll be glad if you wore pants. Besides the shrubs, the hike isn’t too bad- a bit steep, but nothing exhausting. Views of the some of the rocky peaks in Big Cottonwood start to show.

A flat ridge and the boundary of the ski resort are soon reached. Walk along the fenceline and then a bit below the fenceline to stay on the social trials. Enjoy the views and the easy walking; the trail will rise again to reach Murdock Peak, visible along the entire ridge walk. Climb through the brush again, looking for a good social trail and then enjoy the views and relax at the top.

Return to the Great Western Trail the same way you came.


Maps

Route / 7.05 miles / Elevation Range 7,633 - 9,614 ft.
Printable Maps:
Trailhead

12T 445331mE 4503929mN

N40° 41' 04" W111° 38' 49"

Little Water / Red Pine Jct.

12T 445479mE 4503949mN

N40° 41' 05" W111° 38' 43"

Trail Junction - Left

12T 446017mE 4503081mN

N40° 40' 37" W111° 38' 20"

Trail Sign

12T 447487mE 4503731mN

N40° 40' 58" W111° 37' 17"

Old Red Pine Junction

12T 448003mE 4503855mN

N40° 41' 02" W111° 36' 55"

Trail To Peak Jct.

12T 449198mE 4504184mN

N40° 41' 13" W111° 36' 04"

Peak

12T 448858mE 4504890mN

N40° 41' 36" W111° 36' 19"

Unmarked Junction

12T 446194mE 4503979mN

N40° 41' 06" W111° 38' 12"

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