Mt. Aire is located in Mill Creek Canyon. Drive to the trailhead by following Mill Creek Canyon Road about six miles and look for a small parking area on your left. A park fee or prepaid pass is required upon exiting the canyon. Hiking, trail running, horseback riding, and dog walking are allowed on this trail but mountain biking is not. A restroom is provided but not water. Cell phone service was intermittent but my GPS signal was strong.
Hiking to the summit of Mt. Aire is a steep 1.8 miles with an elevation gain of almost 2,000 feet. The following elevation chart illustrates the trail’s consistently unrelenting slope.
In August 2010, I hiked on the Little and Big Water trails in Mill Creek Canyon. I had so much fun in the dense forest landscape that I wanted to see what it was like to summit a peak in the canyon. I chose Mt. Aire because it seemed like the easiest path to a peak. The first section of trail includes strong smells, a running stream, and overhanging vegetation that can soak your clothes (if it has recently rained). I made out fine in shorts but you may want to consider pants.
The trail is not marked past 0.2 miles so stay to the left at the first trail intersection. The trail has two distinct parts. The first part is smooth, steep (i.e., 900 feet elevation gain), and straight (i.e., no switchbacks).
The trail boasts wildflowers and dense vegetation. I believe the following is in the sunflower family but I am not sure what species it is. As seen in the previous picture, there were hundreds of them.
I also saw two eye-catching butterflies. The first was orange and black. I am not sure what it is but I think it is a Fritillary (i.e., an orange-brown nymphalid butterfly).
The second was black and white. I believe it is a Weidemeyer’s Admiral.
The first part of the trail ends at a level clearing that offers views to the north and south. I talked to a trail runner who said she runs up to this spot and turns around. The clearing includes an unmarked intersection of trails. Hikers should take the right-most trail to reach the summit of Mt. Aire.
After turning right you should see Mt. Aire directly in front of you.
The second part of the trail begins with the aforementioned right turn and also gains about 900 feet in elevation. It is an easier climb than the first 900 feet because it includes several switchbacks that dampen the slope. However, it is rockier and along a steep edge.
Nearing the summit, I saw bright red wildflowers which I believe to be scarlet gilia.
I took a panoramic picture with my Olympus Stylus Tough.
The summit is a large, wide open ridge with a 360 view that includes I-80, Mill Creek Canyon, and the greater Salt Lake City area.
Near the summit, I came across the following droppings which I believe are from a moose. The only time I have ever seen a moose was at Silver Lake.
The hike down included spectacular views in every direction.
Not far from the summit, I saw several black birds with a touch of blue but was unable to identify them. In addition, the following lizard caught my eye as it scurried across the trail. At first I thought it was a horned toad but, after closer examination, I believe it is a pygmy short-horned lizard.
In sum, the hike to the summit of Mt. Aire was both vertically challenging and rewarding. I highly recommend it because it offers stunning views and a plethora of wildlife and vegetation. Another Mill Creek Canyon hike I am interested in doing is the trail to Lambs Canyon Pass, which starts from the same trailhead as Mt. Aire.