Millcreek Canyon is a beautiful canyon on the east bench of Salt Lake City and is popular for it’s convenience and dog-friendly trails. The first part of this hike is easy, so you could just go the first 0.2 mile or so before the trail gets a little steeper.
There is a small parking lot just past the Millcreek Inn. It is the Thaynes Canyon Trailhead and has a sign for the Desolation Trail. The trail begins just west of the bathrooms. There is the first Desolation Trail sign and then around the corner is a larger sign with more destinations.
Continue along the path and very soon if forks into the Thaynes Canyon Trail and the Desolation Trail. They both meet up and for this trail we’ll be doing the loop, so you could go either direction. Thaynes Canyon has a few more loose rocks and is a tiny bit steeper near the junction, so I think it’s a bit easier to go up that way and back down Desolation Trail. I’ll describe it that way, which is clockwise around the loop.
Head left at the junction to head up Thaynes Canyon. It is magically beautiful along this trail. It reminds me of Terabithia. The kids found rocks to play on, sticks to collect, and there are a few little forts around.
After a bit the trail starts to get a bit more incline. It’s just goes from easy to moderate.
Can you see the loose rocks along the trail? It would be fine for most to go in either direction, but if you are concerned about footing, it’s easier to go up with rocks than down.
Keep an eye out for the connection with the Desolation Trail. If you stay on the Thaynes Canyon Trail, it takes you to the lesser known Thaynes Peak (7 difficult miles). To complete the loop or to head up to the Salt Lake Overlook, you’ll want to make a sharp right here. This first one is of the sign and the second one is just beyond the turn off, looking back at the two trails. Desolation is to the left and Thaynes to the right from this view.
About 50 feet after you make the sharp right onto Desolation Trail, there is the turn off for the Salt Lake Overlook Trail. It is on the left coming from the junction. You have to climb up the rocks to get to the higher trail for that.
Since we are just doing the easier loop, we’ll pass right by and continue down the Desolation Trail. The trail continues through the pines.
The views are stunning as the trees open up!
As you get a little lower, the path is lined with other trees, like oaks and maples. This time of year it’s gorgeous!
The viewpoints lower down are so spectacular this time of year!
It’s fun to see the pinecones at the tops of the trees.
The trail returns to the merge with Thaynes Canyon and then back to the trailhead.
This is an amazing trail year round. It is so beautiful in the winter!
The Thaynes Canyon side is perfect for sledding down!
Stats: Distance – 1.6 mile loop
Approximate hiking time – 1 to 2 hours
Elevation gain – 436 feet
Difficulty – Moderate (Easy if only go part way)
Trail – well maintained trail of dirt and rocks
Bathrooms – At the trailhead
Seasons to hike – Year round (microspikes or snowshoes in winter)
Permits needed – $5 fee paid as you exit Millcreek Canyon
Dogs Allowed – Yes