As I feel like I have started to become a fairly avid backpacker and 3 season day hiker, I began to realize I have been lacking in winter hiking. This winter I have made a strong effort to get outside and into the snow of the backcountry. I have no excuse not to, living in Salt Lake. Amazing mountain trailheads are 10 minutes from my front door!
I started my winter adventures with some basic snowshoeing trails up Big Cottonwood Canyon. My friend and I stopped and took the trail at the Mill A trailhead a few miles up the canyon, just before you get to the turn off for Donut falls. The conditions were a bit “early season” since it was only November and so we hiked up the trail a bit before throwing our snowshoes on.
The trail takes you up the backside of Mount Olympus through a basin called Mill A. We, however, took a right at a junction in the trail that takes you toward Dog Lake. I had taken the trail to the left earlier in the summer and ran into a moose on my way back down. It kind of made me curious about seeing another, so I kept my eye out!
After the junction, you follow a shallow creek into a mixture of aspens and pines where it opens up into a bit of a meadow. The snow began getting deep and the scenery beautiful. We rounded a bend and sure enough, two bull moose with massive horns stood off on the distance. We passed as they continued to graze in dry patches where snow had melted away.
Through the meadow and up a hill through some pines lead us to where I imagined the lake would be, but all we could see was snow. We hike up to a ridge that gave us a beautiful view of the next valley, north of Big Cottonwood. The sun was getting low, and with the lake obviously buried in snow, we headed back the way we came off the ridge, down through the meadow, back to the junction, and to the car.
The hike wasn’t too long and only took us about 3.5 hours round trip. It was a great warm up hike for some more winter ones to come. I will post those soon!