Desolation Trail to Salt Lake Overlook (Mill Creek Canyon)

Posted: 8th January 2011 by Jonathan Wood in Snowshoeing

I’ve been extremely busy recently. And while I didn’t feel much like hiking today, I felt like I needed to get in a longer hike this week.

Unfortunately, I really wasn’t sure where to go. I’ve been concerned about avalanche dangers recently, and am limited to places that allow dogs. In addition, the air quality was horrible in the valley today (see photos), so I knew I had to get higher up. So I ended up heading to Mill Creek Canyon.

I drove up a few miles past the fee station and decided to turn into the parking lot just east of the Mill Creek Inn on the south side of the road. There’s a trailhead right next to this parking lot.

There’s been plenty of snow recently but there’s been no new snow for nearly a week. Since I knew the trail would be pretty well packed, I donned my MICROspikes and strapped my snowshoes to my backpack and headed up the trail.

Just above the trailhead, the trail splits into two equally-traveled paths. One continues up Thayne’s canyon but really doesn’t go anywhere. The other zig zags up towards the ridge and the Salt Lake overlook.

It took me roughly an hour to reach the overlook. Actually, the hike felt pretty good to me. Although the trail climbs over 1,300 feet, it has a bunch of switchbacks and it didn’t feel particularly steep.

Also, this isn’t a particular long hike. As I mentioned, I probably could’ve used a longer one but it doesn’t really go anywhere from the overlook. If you continued on, it goes downhill for quite a distance. There’s was also quite a bit of snow up there so continuing on would’ve meant putting on the snowshoes. So I decided to call it good at the overlook.

As I mentioned before, the air quality in the valley was just terrible. The Salt Lake valley is subject to inversions in the Winter where there just isn’t enough heat to cause the pollution to rise beyond the mountains that surround the valley. So it just kind of sits there.

I was hoping I might see some Sun in the mountains, but it was cloudy as well. In fact, driving up, I didn’t even notice I was driving out of the inversion. But from the overlook, I could clearly see across the valley through the layer above the inversion but below the clouds. And the air in the valley looked terrible.

So nothing major today. A couple of hours and I got my hike in. I also got a break from breathing the bad air in the valley. More snow is in the forecast and that should clear the air. It will also add to the snow totals in the mountains.

  1. houndstooth4 says:

    It’s nice to see another blog from someone who hikes with their dog!