Tuesday, June 4, 2013

neff's canyon

We wanted to do a hike on Saturday but didn't want to drive too far and didn't want to slog around in the snow.  That limited our options somewhat and we landed on Neff's Canyon.  We'd done a little bit off Neff's back in 2010 but decided to go up to the meadow this time.  The trailhead is located in a residential area between Millcreek Canyon and Mt. Olympus; the parking lot was pretty full when we got there.  It's a popular trail, at least the lower reaches, because it's not a watershed and dogs are allowed.  We saw a LOT of dogs.

Looking up into Neff's Canyon

The trail starts as a graded service road which ends after about half a mile where the creek comes down the canyon.  After some false starts (our guidebook told us to cross the stream but what you actually need to do  is cross the dry stream bed, not the watery one) we continued on an older road through tall scrub oak that began to climb quickly.  When that road ended, at a sign marking the Mount Olympus Wilderness Area, the trail got narrow and quite steep and included a couple of stream crossing.  It was a little humid, being in the trees and near the water, and there were lots of flies - houseflies, not the biting kind - which was a little annoying.  The crush of people thinned out too: we didn't have the trail entirely to ourselves but we didn't see that many folks.

Blues and greens

The trail reaches the meadow at about 2.5 miles, ringed with aspen trees and cliffs overhead.  There were patches of snow in the trees and a guy we talked to said that the snow started to get deep quickly once you headed up to the ridges above.  We paused for a few minutes to have a snack but didn't linger too long.  As we headed back down the way we'd come up, the views down canyon and out to the Great Salt Lake were impressive.  About two-thirds of the way down we came across a fat and cranky rattlesnake curled up in the shade on the side of the trail and shaking his rattle for all he was worth.  We tried to get a photo but none of them came out, unfortunately: he was in tall grass in the shade so he was hard to see, plus we didn't know was his striking range would be and didn't get too close.

Don't fall in!

When we got back to the car, we lingered longer than normal over our PBRs because we were having so much fun patting dogs and talking to their people.  Dogs we saw: a 150-lb. Great Dane, a flat-coated retriever, German shepherds, beagles, numerous golden retrievers, Dobermans, a papillon, Jack Russell terriers, two 10-wk. old Lab puppies, border collies, mutts galore and more.  A couple of them even jumped in our car to see if we had any snacks (we didn't).

Looking out at the lake from the meadow

Hike statistics:  sunny and mid 70s; 5.37 miles RT; 2 hrs. 23 min. (2:53 with stoppage time); 2,358 ft. elevation gain.

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