D North Fork Trail to Dog Lake
5.2 miles (plus 0.8 mile by bicycle)
time: 3 3/4 hours
1,680 ft. gain, 1,540 ft. loss
Butler Fork Trailhead
(start): 7,120 ft.
Dog Lake: 8,740 ft.
Mill D Trailhead:
Popular, well maintained trail
Summer through mid-fall. The higher parts of the trail
are usually covered with snow until early June. For current
conditions call the Salt Lake Ranger District, Wasatch-Cache
National Forest, at (801) 943-1794.
Big Cottonwood Canyon, near Salt Lake City
prettiest part of the Dog Lake loop is probably the first
two miles of the hike, along Butler Fork. Butler Fork
meanders northward through a narrow canyon filled with
dense groves of quaking aspen, eventually emerging into
a more open forest of Engelmann spruce and Douglas fir
along the ridge above Mill Creek Canyon. Although Dog
Lake itself lies outside the Wilderness boundary, Butler
Fork is part of the Mount Olympus Wilderness Area. It
is not uncommon to see moose along this part of the trail.
Look for their hoof tracks along the path-similar to deer
tracks, but two to three times larger.
The Lake itself is located
in a shallow, heavily forested basin just south of the
ridge that separates Mill Creek Canyon from Big Cottonwood
Canyon. It is aptly named, since it is very popular among
hikers who like to bring their dogs with them. Although
Big Cottonwood Canyon is an important water catchment
area for Salt Lake City, Dog Lake has no surface outlet;
hence there are no rules against dogs.
0.5 mile from the Butler Fork Trailhead you will encounter
a fork in the trail, with the better used left fork leading
to Mill A Basin. Take the right fork for Dog Lake. The
trail climbs steadily for another 1.8 miles, finally coming
to another fork about 1,680 feet above the trailhead at
the top of the ridge. Again, bear right along the crest
of the ridge. As you near Dog Lake, about 0.5 mile further
east along the ridge, you may be confused by a number
of trails that branch off to the north and south. Pay
attention to the map, and remember that Dog Lake is just
a short way below the ridge on the south side. If you
start climbing abruptly to the south you are probably
headed for Renolds Peak. If you start descending abruptly
to the north you are probably headed down into Mill Creek
Canyon. Look for Dog Lake just a few hundred feet after
the trail begins descending to the south.
From the southeast corner
of Dog Lake a well used mountain bike trail descends for
0.6 mile to another trail junction. Here you will see
a sign directing you to either Desolation Lake (left)
or Mill D Trailhead (right). Take the right fork to the
Mill D Trailhead. You will see a lot more hikers on this
side of the loop than you saw along Butler Fork. There
are also some summer homes along the east side of Mill
D North Fork, and you may catch glimpses of another trail
below you that follows the east side of the creek. You
will arrive at Big Cottonwood Canyon and the Mill D Trailhead
about 2.4 miles after leaving Dog lake.
provided by David
Day of utahtrails.com. Click here to order his book
Favorite Hiking Trails.