Hike of the week: Bells Canyon Trail — Salt Lake County

Published: Thursday, May 6 2010 12:00 a.m. MDT

1. From the parking area the trail switchbacks up to Lower Bells Canyon Reservoir. At this point, the hiking group is making their way to the reservoir.

Steve Baker, Deseret News

Talk about a hike that gives you all the things you love about the Wasatch Mountains: It's Bells Canyon. You make your way from the valley bench, past the reservoir and into a delightful alpine wilderness. If you are lucky, you might even see mountain goats clinging to the cliffs. All of this awaits above the city. You can access Bells Canyon from two trailheads. The hiking group started from the Little Cottonwood Canyon Road trailhead. The trail switchbacks up to Lower Bells Canyon Reservoir at .75 mile. Take the road left for Bells Canyon Trail. At .92 mile, you arrive at the trail post and leave the road for the canyon. Around a mile into the hike, the trail climbs in scrub oaks and a few mountain mahoganies. You arrive at a footbridge at 1.42 miles. After the footbridge, the trail stays on the south side of the creek and follows it closely to the waterfalls. What a great workout as you stair step over boulders to the lower falls junction. At 1.90 miles, a spring goes over the trail. Just past the spring, look for the trail on the left that isn't posted. The waterfall is just around the corner. The falls plunge over the boulders and quiet the city below. On this spring hike, the snow was too deep for me to visit the second falls. Backtrack to the main trail and continue up to see it.

Directions: From Interstate 215, take the 6200 South exit and turn south on Wasatch Boulevard. Follow Wasatch Boulevard to 9600 South. Turn east on Little Cottonwood Canyon Road, and the trailhead will be on the right.

Destination — Lower falls

Difficulty — Strenuous

Round trip — 4.6 miles

Hiking time — 4 to 5 hours

Elevation gain — 1,310 ft.

Trailhead restrooms — Yes

Dogs allowed — No

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