On hotter days, the upper end of Millcreek Canyon is the place to be in the Salt Lake City area. This area includes the Lower Big Water Trail to Dog Lake to Desolation Lake, and the Great Western Trail (about 25k - 26k of single track).
What Makes It Great
Mill Creek Canyon is one of the most beautiful wilderness areas in the Salt Lake Valley. It’s also one of the most accessible. It's especially nice when the weather in the valley is hot because many of the trails in Upper Mill Creek are tree covered. You can spend an hour or a day, depending on your fitness level and the amount of time you have. Beware, however, once you’re in Mill Creek Canyon you won’t want to leave.
The trail is moderate, well groomed, and only steep for short distances. For longer rides you can continue to Desolation Lake, or continue on past Desolation Lake to the Great Western Trail. If you choose to do the entire loop (Lower Big Water to both lakes to the Great Western Trail) you will be rewarded with incredible views of the Salt Lake Valley and the surrounding mountains. Once you reach the top of the ridge you will be able to look down into the Canyons and Park City ski resorts. Beyond the resorts, the town of Park City will be in view.
Keep in mind that if you plan on mountain biking on the Millcreek to Desolation Lake Trail, bikes are only allowed on even-numbered days. Upper Millcreek opens on July 1 for the 2014 season. Dogs are allowed up in Millcreek Canyon, but don’t take your dogs over the ridge into Big Cottonwood Canyon—this is a watershed area. The last mile of the ride to the Desolation Lake overlook is considered BCC. If you’re caught with your dog in that area, you will be fined.
Who is Going to Love It
Mountain biking in Mill Creek is great for riders of all skill levels—just be sure to choose the appropriate trail.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
Parking is plentiful near the top of Mill Creek Canyon where you’ll find the trailheads. Trailheads are well marked and provide pertinent information, such as direction and distance. The Lower Big Water Trail is just behind the toilets in the parking lot. It heads up a tree covered singletrack trail that is full of rolling hills and switchbacks. If you want to ride up to Dog Lake (a beautiful little lake surrounded by gorgeous peaks) you can do an out and back that is a little over 3 miles (about 5k) each way. Use of Mill Creek Canyon is $3.00 per vehicle per day. Annual passes are $40.00. Seniors (age 60 and over) are charged $2 per day, and may purchase an annual pass for $20. The inter-agency pass available from the national park service is not accepted in Mill Creek Canyon.