The Cardiff Pass is part of the ridgeline between Little and Big Cottonwood Canyon. If you look down to the south you see Snowbird and if you look to the north you see down the canyon towards the Mill D Trailhead, near Donut Falls. Most people who hike this trail are experienced hikers who plan to continue on towards Mount Superior and Monte Cristo.
The trail actually begins across from the Alta Lodge and next to the Shallow Shaft Restaurant. It follows the road for a few minutes and then an old mining road. Eventually it has a well-established trail and it gains elevation quickly. This is an exposed trail, so there is very little shade.
When you reach the top of the ridge you can look down into Big Cottonwood Canyon.
This is where the loop begins. You can either take the ridge line directly west or you can go southwest through the meadow and then jog back towards the ridgeline. The ridge does require some scrambling, but it’s brief. These are taken on the same section from the bottom looking up and then the top looking down.
The trail continues so that you are able to get a more expansive view looking down Big Cottonwood Canyon, this time down Mineral Fork.
When you come around the bend you can look down towards Snowbird and ahead at Mount Superior.
Unless you plan to continue on to Mount Superior or Monte Cristo, then make a sharp left to head southeast back towards to the meadow. The flowers in the meadow and along the trail are lovely right now!
Remember that this is a loop trail, so that even though it feels like you’re headed back closer to where you started, it will switchback to that first overlook and then head down.
Stats: Distance – 3.2 mile loop
Approximate hiking time – 2-3 hours
Elevation gain – 1607 feet
Difficulty – Difficult
Trail – paved, well-defined trail of dirt and rocks and then some scrambling
Bathrooms – At Alta
Seasons to hike – June-October
Permits needed – None
Pets allowed – No