Lazy Sunday in Little Cottonwood Canyon

Just kidding. Dug out the road bike for a great climb and took a quick hike on the side.

Little Cottonwood Canyon road cycling

19 miles RT
3340′ gain
7% average grade


Little Cottonwood Canyon is bounded on both sides by giant granite cliffs and extends East of town. The plan for the day was to ride to Alta ski resort, located near the head of the canyon at the end of the paved road.

Coming from the midwest, the largest climb I had ever tried was maybe 400′ of gain, so this was a major attitude adjustment. Starting from the LCC park and ride lot, I was surprised at how steep the road was. The route is steepest at the beginning and during a couple of hairpin turns in the middle, which is nice since the “easier” part comes when you’re tired.

After reaching the top (in about 1:20) I took a breather and enjoyed the sights at Alta. The north side of the canyon is melting out nicely but there is still a lot of snow on the north-facing slopes to the south.

The best part was the descent. Just as I had never experienced a 3000′ ascent, this was my first chance to coast at 35 mph for 8 miles. It felt like a roller coaster and made all the pain and suffering of getting to the top absolutely worth it.

Some views along the way:

Lower half of the road looking back at SLC
Big cliffs
Forested canyon
Alta (end of the road)

Cardiff Pass hike

2.5 miles RT
1400′ gain

After flying down the canyon on my bike, I had a few hours to kill. Luckily I brought my hiking gear. Noting that the north side of the canyon was looking good for melting out early, I decided to hike to Cardiff Pass. The pass is a jumping-off point for the trails to two of the peaks I want to climb – Monte Cristo and Mount Superior.

The hike was unfortunately still snow-covered in the flats, but it was short, and the views were decent. The scrambling routes look interesting enough that I will revisit them in 2-3 weeks once the snow is gone.

Is this a trail or a creek?

Views from the top of the pass:

Alpine Ridge
Monte Cristo and Cardiac Ridge
Mount Wolverine and the end of the canyon

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