Top snowshoe hikes close to home
Jan 27, 2017 15h34
By Lauren Wester
Snowshoe rentals in the main building of the Solitude Nordic Center/ Quirky Shutter Photography
By Lauren Wester | [email protected]
Sugar House resident Laura Guilmain, always keeps her snowshoes in the back of her car, just in case she needs some wintertime rejuvenation.
“I’ll hear the sounds of the crampons. Snowshoeing is peaceful and meditative,” said Guilmain, an avid snowshoer since 2008. “The trail changes a lot, how open it is, weaving through the woods. You can take a familiar trail but it has a different meaning for each season.”
Guilmain and her dog Belle like to snowshoe Millcreek Canyon or Neff’s Canyon. Sometimes they go wherever the mood takes them.
For those who need more of a planned destination, we’ve compiled the top three snowshoeing hikes (from beginner to advanced) within 40 minutes of Sugar House.
Silver Lake Loop at Solitude Nordic Center
Distance: 0.9 miles round trip
Time to complete: 30-45 minutes
Directions: Drive east on I-80 East. Merge onto 1-215/belt route going south. Take exit 6 for 6200 South. Keep left. Turn left onto 6200 South. Turn left onto UT-190E/Big Cottonwood Canyon Rd. Turn right when you’ve reached the exit for Brighton Ski Resort. Turn right into the Solitude Nordic Center Parking lot.
*There is a daily use fee to use the facilities. There are on-site snowshoe rentals at this location.
A scenic flat trail. You’ll snowshoe along trees, a frozen lake and mountains. The trail is quite packed in, depending on recent snowfall, so you can use basic snowshoes without poles.
This trail is easily accessible and heavily trafficked.
This is a good trail for beginners, families, or those who just want a relaxing walk in the mountains. If you tend to get lost, this trail, and all the Solitude Nordic Center’s trails are lined with colored ribbons on the trees to help you find your way. Aram Hajiyam, Nordic Center manager, said the trails at the Solitude Nordic Center are designed to keep people safe.
As a tip, Hajiyam said to wear waterproof boots, a hat, gloves and to bring plenty of water. “People forget to drink water and can get dehydrated really fast,” Hajiyam said. “Especially when people are in high elevation, they can get altitude sickness.”
Desolation Trail to Salt Lake Overlook at Millcreek Canyon
Distance: 4.4 miles round trip
Time to complete: 2.5-3 hours
Directions: Take 1-215 East. Take exit three and turn left on 3800 South. The desolation trailhead will be 2.6 miles past the Millcreek Canyon pay station on your right. There is a small fee to enter Millcreek Canyon, but dogs are allowed in the canyon.
A partially open trail with a steady incline. You’ll reach a couple lookout points with the final destination being a peak overlooking Salt Lake City and surrounding cities. This trail can be dry in places depending on weather, so you may be able to take your snowshoes off for certain sections.
The trail is easily accessible and heavily trafficked in the summer (with less traffic in the winter). It’s good for snowshoers looking for a scenic workout or those looking to release some energy from their furry friend.
Alexander Basin Trail to Gobblers Knob at Millcreek Canyon
Distance: 10 miles round trip (six miles of road hiking, four miles of trail hiking)
Time to complete: 4-5 hours
Directions: Take 1-215 East. Take exit three and turn left on 3800 South. Drive as far as you can on Millcreek Canyon Road until the winter closure gate. Park in the nearest designated parking lot directly off the main road. You will then snowshoe approximately three miles to the Alexander Basin trailhead. There is a small fee to enter Millcreek Canyon, but dogs are allowed.
The trail is a rewarding but steep climb, with aspen and pine trees, a valley and a summit. The beginning is a three-mile snowshoe hike on Millcreek road, so the journey will take longer than in summer months. Since this trail is not as accessible as the others, it’s not heavily trafficked.
At your destination (the summit of Gobblers Knob) you’ll have an impressive view of the Wasatch and Oquirrh mountains.
This is not a trail recommended for children, as it is a more advanced trail with the possibility of avalanche danger.
With the avalanche danger and trickier nature of the route, we might suggest traveling with a group. Jim Kucera, the snowshoe coordinator at Wasatch Mountain Club, runs snowshoe tours and has been snowshoeing since 1993. He started snowshoeing with the Wasatch Mountain Club because he “wanted to meet like-minded people to snowshoe with.” He now runs tours regularly and has trips ranging from one to 17 people.
Snowshoeing can be a peaceful, solitary experience, an intense workout, or a bonding trip with fellow outdoor enthusiasts, but regardless of your motivation, we encourage you to try a trail, enjoy nature and be safe.