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Big Cottonwood Canyon Trail

The Big Cottonwood Canyon Trail is one of the newest trails in the Salt Lake Valley. This beautiful paved trail follows Big Cottonwood Creek for nearly two miles from the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon to I-215. This hike has a little bit of everything as it passes by tall groves of trees, a cascading river, and incredible views of the Wasatch mountains. The trail is paved and suitable for hikers of all abilities, including wheelchairs and strollers. As of summer 2014, there is 100-yard section of the trail along Big Cottonwood Canyon Road that has yet to be constructed, forcing walkers onto a narrow shoulder along the road for that short distance. Use caution and pay attention to traffic on this short, narrow section.

Trailhead

The Big Cottonwood Canyon Trail can be accessed from a variety of points. The most convenient is from the park-and-ride lot at the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon (40.619588, -111.788942):

  1. Take Exit 6 on I-215 for 6200 S./Wasatch Blvd.
  2. Drive south on Wasatch Blvd. for 1.7 miles.
  3. Turn left onto Big Cottonwood Canyon Road.
  4. Turn left immediately into the large parking lot at the base of the canyon.

Alternate starting points begin at the west end of the trail under I-215 near Cottonwood Corporate Center (40.634943, -111.811094) or near the midway point of the trail at 6708 S. Big Cottonwood Canyon Road (40.629336, -111.802707):

  1. Take Exit 6 on I-215 for 6200 S./Wasatch Blvd.
  2. Drive south on Wasatch Blvd. for 0.2 miles.
  3. Turn right onto 3000 East.
  4. Continue 0.2 miles to the intersection with Big Cottonwood Canyon Road.
  5. Turn right into the Cottonwood Corporate Center for the west trailhead, or turn left and proceed 0.3 miles to the trailhead at 6708 S. Big Cottonwood Canyon Road.

The west trailhead under I-215 can be difficult to find among the many office buildings and parking lots in the area. First time visitors are advised to start at the midway or upper trailheads.

The Hike

Begin walking down the stairs at the west end of the park-and-ride lot at the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon. Those with bicycles, strollers, or wheelchairs can utilize the crosswalk over Wasatch Blvd. and access a ramp to the trail on the other side of the road.

The trail crosses under Wasatch Blvd. and enters a beautiful area along Big Cottonwood Creek. This was the final segment of the trail to be completed. The adjacent land is owned by the city of Murray and is a source of their drinking water, which has helped keep this area pristine for years. More than a dozen interpretive signs along the trail tell the rich history of the area.

Continue walking down the trail for about half a mile until it appears to end at Big Cottonwood Canyon Road. Check for traffic, turn right, and follow the shoulder of the road about 100 yards down the canyon to where the trail resumes. This short section may be constructed at a later date.

The trail follows the north side of Big Cottonwood Canyon Road for the next half mile. The trail reconnects with Big Cottonwood Creek at a crosswalk. Cross the street and continue down the trail into a beautiful, forested section alongside the river before arriving at the midway trailhead. A scenic covered bridge spans Big Cottonwood Creek before it pours into a dam used to control flooding.

Continue walking past the dam as the trail skirts behind a shopping area next to the river. Use the crosswalk at 3000 East to cross the street, and continue walking on the trail as it winds between the large office buildings. An interesting suspension bridge hovers over one section of the trail before crossing the river one last time. The trail ends underneath I-215 near the Cottonwood Corporate Center.

Return the way you came. Total round trip walking distance is approximately 3.8 miles.

Rules and Regulations

  • Dogs allowed on leash.
  • Clean up after pets.
  • No littering.
  • Stay on trail.
  • Bicycles yield to pedestrians.

Credits

This trail guide provided by Backcountry Post.