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Published: April 9th 2014
A roller-coaster trail rises and falls along Emigration Canyon’s ridgeline.
Where:Parly’s Canyon, Wasatch-Cache National Forest Level:
Moderate Hiking Time:
Total Distance: 5.1 miles round-trip Elevation Change:
Hiking the Emigration Canyon Ridge-line embodies much of what’s great about the mountains above Salt Lake City. The trail travels to a front-line view of the boundary between the urban sprawl of the Salt Lake Valley and the mountain wilderness that rises above it all. It’s also one of the closest trails to downtown, making it a perfect quick escape from city life. With its relatively low elevation, starting at 6,227 feet, this trail is a good hike for cooler seasons, namely spring and fall.
Emigration Canyon was the final leg in the journey for the Mormon Pioneers when they arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in 1847. Although reminders of this history are not evident along the trail, it’s still fun to be able to see the historic route from this elevated perspective.
The Emigration Trail follows the ridgeline from Little Mountain Summit to the 7,376-foot Dale Peak. The ridge walk enjoys expansive views the whole way, including Little Dell and Mountain Dell Reservoirs in Parley’s Canyon
The trail heads out of the west side of the parking lot near the restroom at Little Mountain Summit. The beginning of the trail has a bit of an industrial feel as it passes by a fenced-in utility compound and then a set of cell towers. The trail joins an old paved road briefly that transitions to a dirt road and finally a jeep track. Passing under a set of power lines at 0.5 miles, the trail leaves the human-altered landscape behind and enters a more natural-feeling landscape. The trail follows the ridge separating Emigration Canyon and Parley’s Canyon, and views into both canyons are excellent from as early as the 0.5-mile mark. I-80 snakes up Parley’s Canyon and the 36 holes of Mountain Dell Golf Course spread out beside the freeway and reservoirs. In Emigration Canyon large homes catch the eye, standing out against the otherwise natural landscape. Vegetation is sparse along this part of the ridgeline with a few Gambel oak trees growing along the trail. Arrowleaf balsamroot wildflowers bloom in late spring and early summer and even the occasional prickly pear cactus can be found tucked in among the grass and sagebrush.
At 1 mile from the trailhead you’ll find yourself on a relatively steep hillside with Rocky Mountain maple trees mixed in with the Gambel oak. This unnamed peak stands 6,526 feet, or about 300 feet higher than the trailhead. Growing slowly in size as you progress up the ridge, the trees rise above the head height on either side of the trail by 1.5 miles. Wire Mountain – or Big Beacon, as it’s sometimes called because of its large square radio repeater on its summit – is visible to the northwest. Then at 1.75 miles the Salt Lake Valley comes into view for the first time. It’s fun to watch the trees change with slowly rising elevation, with curl-leaf mountain mahogany starting to grow as you climb up Dale Peak. The summit views are impressive. Dale Peak’s modest height is made up for by its central position, and views include everything from the valley floor cityscape to the Great Salt Lake to the surrounding Wasatch Mountain summits. Soak it all in before following the ridge back down to the car. Trail Options
The Emigration ridgeline also has a trail that heads east from the Little Mountain Summit parking lot. This is popular mountain-biking trail, but is open hiking as well. The trail leads 3.2 miles to Birch Spring Pass, making for a 6.4-mile round-trip hike. Getting There
From downtown Salt Lake City, drive south on State Street for 0.8 miles and turn left on University Boulevard. Drive 3.4 miles and turn left on Sunnyside Avenue. Continue 1 mile on Sunnyside Avenue until it turns in Emigration Canyon Road. Continue 6 miles up Emigration Canyon Road and turn right to keep following Emigration Canyon Road. Drive 1.7 miles to the parking lot on the right side of the road at Little Mountain Summit. If this hike is part of a USA outdoor adventure from overseas you will need a tourist visa. For more information on American Visas visit: travel.state.gov/content/visas/english.html
. If you are travelling from one of 37 countries that participate in the Visa Waiver Program you may be eligible for a US Visa Waiver
. A site like estafasttrack.org.uk can help with an application. Information and Contact
Parley’s Canyon, the canyon on the south side of the Emigration Canyon ridgeline, is a watershed and dogs are not allowed. Maps are available at the Public Lands Information Center. For more information, contact Salt Lake City Ranger District, Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, 125 South State Street, Salt Lake City, UT84138, www.fs.fed.us
Tot: 2.975s; Tpl: 0.035s; cc: 13; qc: 28; dbt: 0.0261s; 2; m:saturn w:www (22.214.171.124); sld: 1;
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