Mount Van Cott / Dry Creek Loop


Dec 23, 2013
I set out yesterday to hike the ridge that extends to the northeast from Mount Van Cott and see if it marries up to the Black Mountain Ridge to the north. I had attempted this hike the week before but ran into some deep snow along the ridge that I didn't want to deal with so I tuned around and headed back.

The loop is a touch over eight miles in length and I started around 9:15 in the morning. I made my way along the usual route to the top of Van Cott and then followed the trail to the northeast along the ridge, which I had never hiked before. The trail is easy to follow across the first three humps along the ridge, after that the trail is still visible but the scrub oak became more numerous and thicker.

I worked my way along the ridge and eventually arrived at the head of the South Fork of Dry Creek. At this point, I made my way towards a lone tree up the hillside to my north. As I approached the tree, I noticed a box at the base of the tree. When I arrived at the tree, I realized that it was an old military ammunition box. It turns out the box is used for geo-caching. I opened it up and it had some play money inside and of course the wind blew it out of the box. I spent the next few minutes running down all the bills and returning them to the box.

I then hiked up to the top of the hill where the tree was located so that I could get a good view of Black Mountain Ridge. At this point, the minimal trail headed off into some deep snow and I stopped following it. It does look like it heads in the direction of the top of Black Mountain Ridge; though it would be a very steep climb from where I stood.

I returned to the geo-cache and took fifteen minutes to eat my lunch. After lunch, I decided that instead of heading back the way I had come, I would bushwhack down into the South Fork of Dry Creek and follow it out. I had never hiked down this drainage before, so I was interested to see what it was like. At first, there is quite a bit of underbrush that I had to hike through and while bushwhacking I ran into an elk carcass. About halfway down the canyon a more formal trail exists and eventually I was just hiking down the dry stream bed. Along the way, I did run into a small spring and the creek did run for a short distance before seeping back into the ground. Also, I saw a ton of deer remains as the canyon narrows. I wondered if a cougar was killing them, though I did not see any track.

Once out of the canyon, I popped back out onto the Bonneville Shoreline Trail which led me back to my vehicle.

Now is a great time to do this loop. It took me about five hours to complete it. Once the scrub oak and other underbrush get their foliage though, not only will the going be more difficult, but the trail will be hard to pick up and follow in a number of spots.


Route Map


Route Imagery


Shoreline Trail


Contrail over the ridge


Old Jeep road heading up the ridge with a good view of the University of Utah


Avenues Twin Peaks and Dry Creek Canyon


The knob on the right of the image is the beginning of the ridge I hiked along with Black Mountain Ridge in the background


Trail heading through some oak trees


Looking Back at Mount Van Cott


Good look along the ridge


Working my way along the ridge


The South Fork of Dry Creek drainage with Salt Lake City in the background


View of Mount Wire (Big Beacon) with a portion of Wildcat Ridge in the background


Red Butte Canyon and Reservoir


Old hornet's nest


View along the ridge


Trail becoming harder to follow


Some snow along the way, Black Mountain Ridge in the background


Lone tree on hillside




Black Mountain Ridge and the headwaters of Red Butte Creek


Looking up towards the top of Black Mountain Ridge


Black Mountain Ridge


Elk Carcass


The South Fork of Dry Creek drainage


Making my way down the drainage


View along the drainage


Trees bent over the game trail


The South Fork of Dry Creek


Some vegetation growing in the South Fork of Dry Creek


More established trail


Deer remains


Bonneville Shoreline Trail


Shoreline trail sign


Looks like a fun job at the Huntsman Cancer Institute


The end - with a good view of Wildcat Ridge and Broads Fork Twin Peaks peaking through the gap between Mount Olympus and Triangle Peak

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Dec 23, 2013
Forgot to mention that I saw nine deer, two elk, two hawks and five grouse on this hike, which made it a great hike from a wildlife perspective.
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Jul 5, 2014
Nice looking ridge and nice report Hugh. That geocache box under the lone tree reminded me of the ending to the Shawshank Redemption... but with play money and less dramatic circumstances.


Dec 23, 2013
Nice looking ridge and nice report Hugh. That geocache box under the lone tree reminded me of the ending to the Shawshank Redemption... but with play money and less dramatic circumstances.

If only! :) Except I would head north to the Canadian Rockies or Alaska instead of Mexico.
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