Picnicking in Big Cottonwood

By Tony Pizza, Sports Editor

For what Big Cottonwood Canyon lacks in nearby campsites, it makes up with nifty little picnic spots. Big Cottonwood Creek plays a big part in that.

While Big Cottonwood’s walls are not nearly as sheer as its Little brother, it has more rock-climbing spots, and rock climbers need spots to eat their lunch. OK, so that’s not the reason for the picnicking smorgasbord, but you get the idea.

Picnicking has the unfortunate stigma of being an afternoon activity. When considering Big Cottonwood’s big three, Dogwood, Ledgemere and Moss Ledge, these places are built for the night.

Less than a mile upon entering Big Cottonwood, you hit Dogwood. This picnic area has roughly eight to 10 full sites with tables and fire pits. It can get a little overpopulated being so close to the canyon mouth, but it’s still decent. Like all three major picnic areas, it closes at 10 p.m., so getting there early gets you a good spot and ample time to make the $6 parking fee worth it. The other strong point of Dogwood is that you have to cross a 7-foot bridge to get to the site. That means you cross Big Cottonwood Creek and get a lot of nice ambient sound with your afternoon or evening.

Ledgemere is also on the Big Cottonwood Creek (south) part of the canyon and is similar in size to Dogwood. Ledgemere is a bit more busy because of the nearby rock climbing and hiking trails, but it is still pleasant and easier to get close to the rushing creek.

Moss Ledge is the farthest picnic site from the mouth of the canyon and also the most secluded. It is on the north side of the canyon and requires a short climb up some stairs to get to the elevated table area. Moss Ledge lives up to its name as the tree canopy overhead keeps direct sunlight out at almost any time of the day. When it comes to night, this spot is definitely the cooler of the three. All three sites charge $6.

A few miles down Wasatch Boulevard is Mill Creek Canyon, which is accessible at the top of 3800 South. Instead of charging by the site, Mill Creek charges you either on your way up or on your way back from the canyon. Anyone who’s been involved in Boy Scouts of America has probably been to Tracy Wigwam at least once. Near that area are more picnic areas than people8212;or at least it seems so. The one thing they all share in common is seclusion. East Mill Creek is a popular biking route because of its lack of traffic, and the picnic areas carry that same sentiment. You can’t just go on a joy ride up the canyon, so it’s typically the less used of the four east bench canyons.

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