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Mill D North Fork

The Mill D North Fork trail is a tad on the technical side, with many roots and embedded rocks, so it's best for strong-intermediate or advanced riders. It's a great downhill, but a bit of a beast to climb up. So most riders take the road up to Guardsman, then drop off the Wasatch Crest trail to complete a loop using Mill D as the downhill. But the uphill is nice, too, if you've got the leg for it.

Although the ride is mostly in forest, there are occasional eye-popping views of the Wasatch peaks. Here we're looking south. Photos June 16, 2002 by Bruce.

The lower half of Mill D is a forested ride, in quakies with occasional fir. The upper half rolls past a few meadows, with occasional views of nearby mountains. There are lots of wildflowers in summer. It's a very pretty ride.

Mill D North Fork is very popular with hikers. On a Saturday, you'll need to be extra careful. Be considerate of other trail users.

Smoother trail sections give you a breather. Typical aspen and fir forest.

Loop 1:  Most bikers ride a loop by climbing the paved road from the trailhead. Turning left onto the Guardsman Road, they ride to the Wasatch Crest trailhead and climb Puke Hill. Just past the Desolation Lake overlook, the trail forks left to drop down past the lake. Keep left at the Dog Lake trail intersection. This gives 4 miles of kick-butt downhill. Total climbing is 2700 feet, distance 16.7 miles. To avoid the road ride and 1700 feet of climbing, you can leave a shuttle at the Mill D trailhead and drive up to the Wasatch Crest trailhead. [GPX Track]

The trail is a great downhill ride, but a little rough in spots for beginners.

Loop 2:  A fun but challenging loop option is to ride Mill D uphill, climb to the Wasatch Crest, then turn left and ride down the Great Western in North Mill Creek. After descending a few miles, we keep left at the trail intersections to climb up past Dog Lake. Here are two options: left for 1/2 mile steep and gnarly, or right for a mile of nice trail to Mill D North. We turn downhill on Mill D to complete the loop. The climb to the Crest is 2400 feet. Add another 400 feet of climb to get back past Dog Lake. Distance 12.5 miles. [GPX Track] NOTE: Upper Mill Creek trails are CLOSED to bikes on odd-numbered days!

Here's a bit of that rough trail. Log water-bars, roots, and rocks make it interesting.

Out-and-back:  As an out-and-back to Desolation Lake, the trail is 3.8 miles each way, with a gain of 2000 feet. Starting altitude is 7300 feet. Add in a ride around the lake, and you've got a total of 8 miles. This option, and the Mill Creek loop option, are for strong climbers with good root-hopping skills. [Mill-D-N Track]

Here we are at Desolation Lake. Take a victory lap. Desolation Lake is an example of a glacier lake, formed within a cirque dug by the moving glacier. When the glacier melted (around 10,000 years ago), the depression filled with water.

Epic Loop For a truly worthy ride, head up-canyon on pavement to the Wasatch Crest as in Loop 1 above. But instead of dropping down the Desolation Lake Trail, continue north on the Wasatch Crest. Descend down the north side of Mill Creek, and when you hit the Dog Lake trail, climb 400 feet back up. Ride past Dog Lake, then turn right on Mill D after descending from the lake. Distance 21.2 miles. [GPX Track]  NOTE: Upper Mill Creek trails are CLOSED to bikes on odd-numbered days!

Riding Notes, Desolation and Dog Lake Loop:
0.0   From parking north up ST Mill D North
        N40 38.672 W111 38.412
1.6   Stay R on Mill D North (L = Dog Lake)
        N40 39.759 W111 37.791
3.9   Pass Desolation Lake
4.1   L on Wasatch Crest
        N40 39.507 W111 35.794
6.5   Keep L, downhill on Mill Creek Trail
        N40 41.224 W111 36.087
        (R = to Midmountain Trail)
7.6   Keep L N40 40.975 W111 37.177
9.5   L uphill at 4-way (to Dog Lake)
        N40 40.694 W111 38.514
10.4 Pass Dog Lake
11.0 R downhill on Mill D North
        N40 39.759 W111 37.791
12.5 Back at parking

Getting there: Go to Big Cottonwood Canyon (Wasatch Blvd and 72nd South) and drive 8.8 miles up from the traffic light. Park near the trailhead on your left. GPS N 40 38.976' W 111 38.884'.

Guardsman Pass trailhead: Ride up the road past Solitude Resort (about 6.5 miles). Just before you reach Brighton, the road to Guardsman Pass turns off on your left. Exactly one mile later (1.8 miles from the fork in the road), you'll see a dirt road on the left. GPS N 40 36.817' W 111 33.532'. Park along the hairpin turn and bike up the road.

Riding resources for this trail:
Single-page riding guide
GPS track files and route (right-click and "Save as..."):
     Mill D North only         Area multi-track file
     Epic Mill-D-Road-Crest-Dog Lake 
     Mill-D-Desolation-Dog Lake Loop
     Mill-D-Road-Crest-Down Mill D North
High-res topo (printable):   View map
Lodging, camping, shops:
       Links to northern SLC resources
       Links to southern SLC resources

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