Little Cottonwood Trail – Hiking, Running, MTB – Salt Lake City, UT

Little Cottonwood Trail starts at the entrance to Little Cottonwood Canyon and follows Little Cottonwood Creek east. Primary activities on the trail include hiking, trail running, and mountain biking but dogs are not allowed. Parking is free. Mountain bikers will want to park at the canyon’s entrance. The following is a description of a short hike that starts in the middle of the trail and follows it to its eastern end. For this hike, parking is limited and there is no official trailhead and, thus, no restrooms or water.The starting point for this hike is 2.6 to 2.7 miles from the entrance of the canyon. Cell phone and GPS service were decent; but the GPS coordinates in the map below still turned out a little shaky.

Little Cottonwood Trail

Originally, we planned to hike to Lisa Falls on the north side of the road. However, we were unable to pick up the trail so we decided to give the following hike a try. This hike does not have a trailhead so you’ll need to carefully study the map above and look for shoulder parking on the south side of the road (see below). Google Maps has “layers” and if your phone has the ability to add my Google Map layer to your phone’s Google Maps then my map should make it easy to find the starting point for this hike.

On the south side of the road there is a trail that drops down the ridge and connects to the Little Cottonwood Trail.

Turn right and head east when you reach the official trail. From here, the hike is about 1.6 miles one way, starts at around 6,400 feet, and ends at around 6,600 feet.

The trail is wide, mostly smooth, and has a gentle slope. Walking north, the trail is peaceful but with limited views. In addition, the creek is too far away from the trail to be enjoyed. Trail runners and mountain bikers should find the gentle slope both fun and challenging.

After an unremarkable hike, the trail has a great finish. It ends at the edge of the Little Cottonwood Creek and offers a soothing backdrop of rushing water and a historic mill. In addition, a concrete barrier provides a peaceful resting stop.

The return walk heading west includes a less obstructed view of the canyon walls (see below). Picking up the side trail that leads back up to the road can be tricky to find so be sure to make a note of it before embarking.

On our drive home, we ran over a screwdriver that didn’t cause a flat tire?!? After removal, a local auto mechanic gave the tire a clean bill of health. We were feeling unlucky having not found the Lisa Falls trail but that feeling changed after surviving the following screwdriver.

In sum, the eastern half of the Little Cottonwood Trail offers an easy and unspectacular hiking trail that will take a little bit of work to find. It is more likely to be used by trail runners and mountain bikers because of its distance from the main trailhead. Other nearby trails include:


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