Hike 36: Little Cottonwood Trail

Hike 36
6 miles
Little Cottonwood Trail

I hiked along the Little Cottonwood Trail with a couple of local Hike it Baby moms back in May and I liked the trail so much, I added it to the calendar this week now that the temperatures have come down and the summer heat seems to be done for they year (I hope I didn’t jinx that!). The fall foliage is in full force in the canyons along the Wasatch Front and we were definitely wowed.

I really like this trail because it’s wide and follows Little Cottonwood Creek, and a large portion is in the shade. It’s also long-ish, a little less than three miles to the end and only 1000 feet in elevation gain. So while it’s all uphill going in, it’s gradual. The workout is deceptive; you aren’t really aware that you’re working until you reach the end and realize, wow I’m tired! Then it’s ALL downhill heading back to your car.

It was actually chilly when we got started in the morning, and SO nice to hike in long sleeves again. Matthew even kept a beanie on the whole hike!

Two local moms joined me with their toddlers and we headed into the canyon with plans to cross the road at the end and play at Lisa Falls before heading back down.

Fall is definitely in full bloom here in Utah. It’s gorgeous!!


My memory of where the trail turned left toward the road was a little fuzzy, but I had thought it was pretty clear where we turn. It wasn’t, and we hit the end of the trail in a spot that was completely new to me.

Funny enough, I was talking about a photographer’s blog I had read where he visited the ruins of an 100+ year old building that was in Little Cottonwood Canyon and how I hoped to explore it with my boys one day. Then bam! Two minutes later, we were there!

Based on a little Google searching, some speculate the building used to be a church, but I doubt it. There are a couple of large chutes that look like something was drained directly into the creek. It’s much more likely that it was a mill or housed some sort of early 20th century electric turbine. The rushing creek perhaps helped generate electricity for the town of Alta at the top of the canyon or the little mining town that used to be about halfway up the canyon, back when mining was the bustling industry, before it became skiing.

There is no bridge to get across, so I will have to find a spot where the water is shallow enough to hop along the boulders. It’s not something I’m willing to do with Matthew on my back (at least not today I wasn’t). But I’d love to go back and explore these ruins another day.


Annoyingly, we tried to find the trail that leads to the road and then up to Lisa Falls with no success. At least we got to some sort of destination and enjoyed beautiful scenery along the way.

And there were plenty of rocks to throw into the water!

And Matthew made a couple of friends. One of these guys was crawling on his sleeve at one point. I wish I had taken a photo, but I was busy making sure he didn’t freak out.

As we were heading back down, the sun finally came out and gave us a little bit of blue sky.


Líllébaby CarryOn Air Toddler Carrier
Ahnu Sugarpine Waterproof Hiking Boots
Ultimate Direction Kaviti Hydration Pack
Canon 70D
18-135mm Zoom Lens


About wobetxela

Artist, mom, traveler, hiker, babywearer (for as long as they'll let me) and hobbyist photographer.
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