The trail I picked next is the Willow Heights Trail. This is about a two mile round trip hike that leads to a mountain lake. This is probably the hardest of the easy hikes I am going to write about. It could be border line moderate. I have lived here in Utah for a long time and have hiked most of the trails up Big Cottonwood canyon but this is one hike I hadn’t done. After reading a couple of descriptions of this hike, I thought it would be a great one to try. My wife picked me up from work one evening and we headed up the canyon to give it a try.
Willow Heights is a beautiful little lake up Big Cottonwood Canyon. The trail starts out in an aspen grove and stays in the aspens for most of the hike. So depending on the time of day this is a semi-shaded hike. (I would still pack sunscreen.) The trail is a mixture of both rocks and dirt, but the wild flowers were plentiful this time of year on the entire hike. As you follow the trail upwards, the trail opens to a meadow, and just across the meadow is the lake. The lake is not the biggest lake you could hike to up Big Cottonwood Canyon, but it is one of the less crowded lakes you will go to.
Take note; there are two different trails that you can take to get up to this lake. The trails are similar in terrain and scenery, but one is a little more challenging. The main trailhead starts on the left side of the road about 0.3 miles passed Silver Fork Lodge. The second, starts about an eighth of a mile passed Silver Fork Lodge to the left, and follows a narrow road up into a residential area, for a bit, then turns into a dirt trail at the end of the hike.
I took my 3 year old on both of these trails and the trail that starts off in the residential area was a lot easier for him. It is also the longer of the two hikes. It might be longer but the trade off is that it doesn’t climb as fast. I would recommend the second hike if you are looking for an easier hike. With my boy hiking the whole time it took us about an hour to get up to the lake. He wanted to ride in the backpack on the way down, so we put the him and our daughter, in the backpacks and we covered the same trail in 28 minutes.
How to get there: From anywhere in the Salt Lake Valley take I-215 east until you reach the 6200 South Exit (Exit 6). Drive east on 6200 S. The road will turn into Wasatch Boulevard. Follow Wasatch Boulevard south until you come to the intersection of Fort Union Boulevard (7200 South). This intersection is located about 1.7 miles after exiting I-215 (There is a 7-Eleven on the South-West corner). Turn left at the intersection and drive east up Big Cottonwood Canyon. After driving 11.2 miles up canyon the road you will come to Silver Fork Lodge. Drive 0.2 miles to the residental trailhead, park on the side of the road. Or 0.3 miles to the actual trailhead. You will see a stone sign marking the trailhead.