Big Cottonwood Canyon, Salt Lake City , UT
Trailhead Location: 6 Miles up Big Cottonwood Canyon
Trailhead GPS: 40°38’11.45″N 111°41’54.71″W
Trail Mileage: 7 Miles +/-
Riding Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
Temperature Range: 40 – 90 Degrees F
The Mineral Fork trail is the only ATV accessible trail located in the Cottonwood Canyons and is only minutes away from Salt Lake City. This is a great ride after work or early on a Saturday morning where you don’t want to spend all day out riding. This trail will take most riders around two hours round trip (depending on stops).
Big Cottonwood Canyon gets heavy snow so riding is generally limited to Summer and Fall. The trail follows the old mining road close to 6 miles up the canyon and gains nearly 4000 ft in elevation ending up close to 10200 ft. After only a few minutes of riding, the trail begins to cross a small stream. Several switchbacks take you back and forth across the stream providing one of Utah’s most scenic ATV trail sections. After the initial switchbacks, the trail narrows into the most difficult section of the ride in a rocky gap between a cliff wall and large boulders. Groups that take their time and carefully pick their line should have no problem navigating the obstacle.
Once past the rocky gap, the trail wanders through aspen and pine groves and through the stream. After a few miles of riding, the trail takes you past the old Mineral Fork Mine. The mine is gated off, but worth a quick stop to see the historic site. Once past the mine, the trail gains elevation very quickly after dozens of switchbacks. Eventually the terrain turns to large rock fields and continues to follow switchbacks until you end up close to the top of the canyon.
Riders are amazed at how far up the canyon the trail actually takes them. For those that are adventurous, a quick and steep hike will take you to the top of the mountain where it overlooks the canyon to the West with Lake Blanch and Sundial Peak. The view from the top is truly one of the top Utah ATV destinations and is absolutely breath taking. Most times Mountain Goats can be spotted on the rocks at the top and Moose and Deer seen lower.
Located about 6 miles up Big Cottonwood Canyon on the south side of the canyon is the Mineral Fork trail. The trail parking lot is just off the shoulder of the road and to access the trail you have to around a gate blocking the old mining road. For Google Map directions to the trail head from the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon.
Additional Trail Information
Elevation High: 10200
Elevation Low: 6700
Terrain: Dirt, Rocks, and some Boulders/Very Rocky in some spots
Vegetation: Aspen and Pines
Best Travel Season: Summer and Fall
Map Availability: REI or Salt Lake Ranger District
Breakfast Joint: Silver Fork Lodge or Porcupine
Base Camp: Spruces or Redman Camp Grounds
Luxury Lodge: Silver Fork Lodge or Solitude Ski Resort