The Trail That Has it All


(Photo by Taylor Dickinson)

(Photo by Taylor Dickinson)
(Photo by Taylor Dickinson)

It’s hard, when you’re tasked with cutting down the multitude of fantastic hikes that comprise the Wasatch Range, to pick just one good fall hike. I’ve spent many years exploring the beautiful trails and sights the canyons have to offer, and I think I’ve finally found “the one.”
About 8.1 miles up Big Cottonwood Canyon, on the north side of the road right before the Jordan Pines Campground Area, lies the Butler Fork Trailhead. The hike leads to the top of Mount Raymond and is a fairly strenuous, five to six hour, 7.5 mile hike roundtrip. But the trail is incredibly rewarding and a great way to see the beautiful fall colors.
The first section of the Butler Fork Trail follows a calm creek, leading through fir and aspen on a gently winding trail. After about a half a mile, the trail forks, leading to the wonderful Dog Lake on the right. But if you’re anything like me (and if you are, we should go on a hike together), you have to get a peak under your belt to feel like you’ve accomplished something for the day. If that is the case, I suggest heading to the left on the Mill A Basin trail. The trail opens up into a picturesque meadow before hitting switchbacks through an aspen grove. At the end of the switchbacks, the main trail crests a saddle and turns north.
But before heading onwards, find the faint trail just at the top of the last switchback. The south-bearing path leads less than a quarter of a mile to Circle All Peak. Although not prominent enough to technically be classified as a peak, Circle All offers beautiful views of Big Cottonwood Canyon (and a sneak peak of Mount Raymond to the West).
Back on the main trail, another half mile will lead you to another split in the pathway. Again, take the left fork, and trek on for about 1.2 miles through the Mill A Basin. Keep on the main trail, avoiding the one or two noticeably smaller trails that branch off to the left. The trail climbs to a saddle, known as Baker Pass, and splits for the last time, leading up to Gobbler’s Knob to the east, Bowman’s Trail to the north, and Mount Raymond to the west. Take a nice water break. You’re almost there.
Now begins the most enjoyable part. Follow the trail up the grassy hillside for half of a mile until you reach the beautiful quartzite ridge that leads to the summit. From here, it is a fun two to three class scramble to the top, with some mild exposure.
Once on top, a beautiful panorama presents itself, with views of Mount Olympus and the Salt Lake Valley to the west and Big Cottonwood and Millcreek Canyon to the south and north. Only one final requirement remains: You have to sign the summit register and revel in your accomplishment. Return the way you came, have a big meal, and brag to all your friends that you climbed a mountain.
There are absolutely hundreds of hikes in the Wasatch that would please anyone, from the novice hiker to the veteran outdoorsman. Fall is a fantastic time to visit the vivid beauty we only get a glimpse of from the valley floor. But the colors are quickly fading, and snow is beginning to fall, so be sure to head out soon. And remember, the trail is located in Utah watershed, so pack out what you pack in, and no pets allowed.
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