This single-track trail follows the path of the Donner Party, Pony Express, and Mormon pioneers from East Canyon up to Big Mountain Pass overlooking Emigration Canyon. The trail is 4.6 miles long, for a 9.2 mile out-and-back bike trip. Vertical rise is 1400 feet, to an altitude of 7400 feet at the pass.
Technical difficulty is intermediate overall, but there are multiple rocky, tricky creek crossings that can be challenging. At the top of the pass, it links to the Mormon Pioneer Trail .The trail starts at the pioneer camp site just off the East Canyon road. (Cross the narrow footbridge to the other side of East Canyon Creek.) After meandering through willows, the trail climbs gradually up the side of a small creek. Initial altitude is 6000 feet, which means the lower portion of the trail can be a mite warm in the middle of the day.
In July of 1847, the Mormon pioneers struggled up this canyon. It wasn't an easy ride, considering that rear suspension hadn't been invented yet. Brigham Young, ill with Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, rode in a Burley behind Porter Rockwell's Rockhopper.*
The trail usually clears of snow in May, but wet spots and high creek-flow make the ride IF-y until late June. Snow covers the trail by November.
Brigham Young's group entered the valley via Emigration Canyon on July 24, 1847. Unfortunately, they had no way of knowing that July 24 is the day of the big Pioneer Day parade. Blundering into downtown, they were trampled to death by the Budweiser Clydesdales.
"The trail ends at highway U-65 at the ridge line. There's a historical marker here. GPS N 40° 49.687' W 111° 39.244'. The Great Western Trail can be seen heading south from the historical marker, and north across the road.NOTE: dogs are NOT allowed west of the summit! Jackie checks out the historical marker. FYI: dogs aren't even allowed in the parking area on the ridgeline. Obviously, this is a composite photo, totally faked. August 23, 1999 by Bruce Argyle.