||Mill Creek Meadows
Mill Creek Meadows is a two-mile trail that links the Wasatch Crest to
the Mill Creek Canyon trail. It's most often used as a downhill variation
on the shuttled Wasatch Crest ride. Note that bikes are allowed on Mill Creek
Meadows only on even-numbered days.
Rolling through a meadow studded with yellow flowers.
Review by Bruce on July 8, 2022.
|The Mill Creek Meadows trail is narrow singletrack with some
very steep sections. It's best done downhill, unless you're a big fan of
carrying your bike. The steepness, plus a couple of rock outcrops, make
this an expert-level trail. Over 2 miles it drops from 9350 feet elevation
on the Wasatch Crest to the big meadow on the Mill Creek Canyon trail at
8350 feet. The expected riding season is July through mid-October.
The ride alternates between forest and beautiful
||You can ride Mill Creek Meadows as a lariat loop starting in
Mill Creek Canyon if you're a tough climber. I recommend the lower Big
Water trailhead as your starting point.
Most riders will pay for a shuttle to Guardsman and deviate onto Mill
Creek Meadows once they reach Mill Creek Canyon on their Wasatch Crest
ride. The Mill Creek Meadows trail is 6.6 miles from the Crest's starting
point at the top of Guardsman Pass on Scott's
The Big Water trail begins at the lower Big Water
trailhead at the top of Mill Creek Canyon for the up-and-back lariat ride.
|The trail forks away from the Wasatch Crest trail just north
of the divide between Big Cottonwood and Mill Creek. The trail fork is
unmarked. If you're climbing uphill from Mill Creek, you might ride right
past it even if you're looking for it. It's 6.4 miles from the lower Big
Water trailhead and 1.8 miles uphill from the Crest Connector trail fork.
If you reach the "No Dogs" sign at the ridge, you went past it
and need to backtrack 1/10th mile.
Here's what you're looking for: the unmarked
beginning of the Mill Creek Meadows trail on the Mill Creek side of the
Wasatch Crest trail.
||When riding downhill on the Wasatch Crest, you'll find the
trail fork on your left 0.5 mile past the Desolation Lake/Mill D North
Fork intersection -- 0.75 miles from the top of "The Spine" and
the view over Desolation Lake. (FYI the trail on your left at mile 0.4
from the Desolation Lake trail fork -- where you'll see the "No
Dogs" sign -- is not the correct trail. It goes up to a viewpoint and
stops. Continue downhill another 0.1 miles.)
Here's Dominic from over 20 years ago. A photo posed
above Desolation Lake is a must-do. If you climbed up from Mill Creek,
consider continuing a bit into Big Cottonwood for the photo-op before
heading back to Mill Creek Meadows.
|However you get to Mill Creek Meadows, it will be a bit of
work. So this trail is an option only for strong riders. For my review, I
climbed up to the Wasatch Crest from Mill
Climbing uphill toward the top of the trail on the
Wasatch Crest above Mill Creek.
||The trail begins with by dropping downhill away from the
Wasatch Crest. There isn't a lot of techy rock (unlike the
Wasatch Crest north of the trail fork), but right away you'll get into
some loose and dusty
butt-over-the-tire descending. This area will have some very nice open views, so
take a minute to look around.
Dropping away from the Wasatch Crest. We'll soon be
riding on top of the ridge you can see ahead.
|The trail then turns to the west to follow a ridgeline.
Again, more awesome views. You can see all the way across the Salt Lake
Valley to the Oquirrhs.
Ridgeline cruising. We can see
the tops of quite a few mountains from here.
||As it turns back east to drop off the ridge, you'll hit 0.2
miles of continuous steep narrow singletrack in pine forest. It's 15%
slope here but the trail is straight and smooth. So just hang on and go.
Descending off the ridge. Way steeper than it looks.
|Mill Creek Meadows, as you might guess, passes through
several beautiful meadows. There are also nice views of the canyons.
That's the attraction of this trail. And while Mill Creek Meadows is an
expert-level descent, the alternative -- continuing down the Wasatch Crest
-- has some intermittent techy rock to contend with, so it's not the
"easy way down" either.
Rolling into one of several pretty meadows.
||At two miles, Mill Creek Meadows is exactly one mile shorter
than the combination of the lower Crest and upper Mill Creek that you'll
bypass if you ride it. The steepest stretch drops 150 vertical feet in 0.2
miles (15%) slope. Overall, you'll drop 1000 vertical feet at 500 per mile
average, but with some easy cruising in the meadow areas.
A bit of aspen forest between meadows.
|You can do Mill Creek Meadows as a lariat-loop ride starting
from Big Water. Use the northern Wasatch Crest to reach the Mill Creek
Meadows trail to descend. Although only 10.6 miles, there's 2000 feet of
climbing with some techy steep uphill stretches on the Wasatch Crest.
Another ride option is to pedal to Dog Lake
from Mill Creek, take the Dog Lake to Desolation Connector to Mill
D North Fork. Now climb to the Crest then descend 1/2 mile to Mill Creek
Meadows and return via the Mill Creek Canyon
Another big meadow before we head into the trees and
begin descending again.
||Mill Creek Meadows ends on the Mill Creek Canyon trail in
the big meadow, just uphill from the bridge. This lower end of the trail is
also unmarked. The trail fork is 0.2 miles below the fork for the Red
Pine Road trail. To do a figure-eight, you can climb uphill from the
end of Mill Creek Meadows to the Red Pine trail fork and
descend the Red Pine Road trail.
On the main Mill Creek Canyon trail, just downhill
from the bottom of the Mill Creek Meadows trail.
Get to Foothill Blvd on the east bench of
Salt Lake City. If you're coming via I-215, exit at 39th South. Take 3800 South eastbound into the Canyon. Drive all the way to the top of
Mill Creek Canyon to the lower Big Water trailhead.
Mill Creek user fee is $5 per car as of 2022, payable by credit card as
you leave the canyon. The gate to upper
Mill Creek Canyon is open to cars July 1 to November 1. Mountain bikes are only allowed on
upper Mill Creek trails on EVEN numbered days!
|On the shuttled ride, most riders will start at the Scott's
Bypass trail at the top of Guardsman Pass. From this starting point, it's
6.6 miles to the top of Mill Creek Meadows.
After completing Mill Creek Meadows, most riders will continue down to
Big Water then catch the Upper Pipeline to continue the trip downhill to
Reserving a spot on a commercial shuttle is the most practical and
environmentally-friendly way to do the shuttled ride.