Cross country skiing around Salt Lake

One can ski either on the flatter areas of the western Wasatch or on the eastern side. Good terrains are about 1 hr. east of SLC in the Uinta Mountains foothills.

Millcreek Canyon
Big Cottonwood Canyon
Uinta Foothills

Millcreek Canyon

Up the road

Millcreek C. in in the winter closed from about the first third, so the rest of the road up (ca. 5 miles) is snow covered. It is an excellent place for a quick trip, although it is pretty busy. This canyon is my regular exercise place in the winter, I try to get there once a week in the early morning. It takes about 2 hours to ski up and down.
I took a first try in the middle of November 1999, when there was about 1 foot of snow, second a week later, but this time it was rather warm and the snow was too soft and melting.
Pictures from the second trip:
View towards the top of the canyon, from the farthest we got.
fotoView down from the same place.
On the road, view fotodown and fotoup.
fotoTwo mooses, right by the road.

Big Cottonwood Canyon

newClickable map

Spruces campground area

There is a loop, ca. 2 miles of relatively flat track, around the campground. Supposedly it is being groomed, I haven't seen it. Since there are also people walking and snowshoeing, the track is pretty bad. Good for beginners, though.

Cardiff Fork

Starts at a popular snow play area at the Spruces, ca. 10 miles up the canyon on the south side of the road. The trail follows old mining road to the upper basin, then disappears and about last mile is just straight shot up to the Cardiff Pass, overlooking Alta in the Little Cottonwood. First few miles are relatively well tracked, the higher the less. The upper bowl is a telemark domain, althoug I managed to crawl up on the cross country skis. The images below were taken on Christmas Day '99 morning, when the crowds were non-existent.
View north about half way up the Cardiff Fork.
fotoThe road up from the same spot.
fotoSeveral images from the lower bowl area. View north again, view north-west towards the ridge dividing the Cardiff with the next fork, south-west and more south-west, with the Mount Superior / Monte Christo ridge.
fotoAlta from the Cardiff Pass.
fotoAnother sequence of photos, now from the Cardiff Pass. West - Mt. Superior, north-west - continuation of the ridge, more north-west down the bowl and north down the Cardiff Fork.

newDays Fork

Side canyon east of Cardiff Fork, a bit steeper and shorter. I had to take my skis off on the steeper part on the way up and break hard on the way down. This one is only for hardcore skiers. But once the steep part is over, the upper basin is spectacular, although not as great as the Mill D fork.
fotoView down (north) from about 1/2 up the canyon.
fotoAvalanche gulches in the western ridge, picture taken at the same spot as the previous one.

Uinta Mountains Foothills

Uintas are east of the Wasatch Range, about an hour drive from SLC. They are not as steep as Wasatch so very good for basic cross country skiing. Unfortunately, snowmobilists also like to go to many places there, which can make a skiing trip quite unpleasant experience. I was at three places so far.

Upper Weber River Valley

East of Kamas, on the National Forest lands, part of the valey is closed for the snowmobiles, so there are several good trails. Probably the best area I visited so far. Entrance fee is $3 per car.

Upper Provo River Valley

East of Francis. Few cross country trails, but lots of snowmobile trails around, so the snowmobilers sometimes venture onto the skiing trails.

Daniel's Pass

Close to the Strawberry Reservoir about 20 mil east of Kamas, way too much developed area with a lodge and tons of snomobiles. As my friend said, snowmobile alley. We did a winter camping weekend here, skied up for a few miles and stayed overnight. Fortunately, no snowmobiles roared around in the evening, so we could enjoy 2 meters of snow cover and a fire.
During lunch on the way up.
fotoGetting ready the campsite.
fotoView from the campsite down towards the pass.
fotoEvening by the fire.
fotoThe camp early morning.
fotoOn the way back.

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Last updated: 25-Jan-00 / mc