Holbrook Creek Canyon is a non-technical hiking canyon located one canyon north of Mueller Park at 40.881682,-111.844318 in Bountiful Utah. The trail is well maintained and the creek is mostly bridged (with varying materials and effectiveness). The verticals aren’t particularly steep but the climb is a steady uphill hike the whole way.
The entire hike is forested and is a good summer evening hike. It is generally kid friendly and there are few places where the little guys could get hurt. The best time to hike the canyon (or anywhere in Utah) is fall. This area in particular has great leaf changes. The trail is very snowshoeable during the winter but it looks difficult to Nordic Ski. The trail should be pretty good during the spring run-off, although some of the creek crossings may become challenging. Most research articles on the trail advertise it as a brutal, skill-testing bike ride and advise starting from the top on the ridgeline road and doing it as a downhill bomber run.
The hike through the canyon starts at the Holbrook/Sessions Trailhead, located just across the street from the Bountiful LDS Temple. The trail goes down the hill from the trailhead to the creek bed. The trail then turns east and is easily followed as it winds through the canyon next to the creek. Along the way there are numerous splinters off the trail but they invariably hook up to the main trail making it difficult to get lost. The forest is thick on both sides of the trail and rarely pops out onto bare hillside. The first big landmark is at about 1.5 miles where the trail crosses the creek in an area with some unique rock formations and there is a nice primitive camping spot shielded by a cliff and boulders. From there, the next big landmark is the pipeline clearing which crosses the trail and goes steeply up the hillside. The trail continues to wind through the canyon until it reaches the ridgeline road.
Overall, the trail is well maintained but crosses the creek at least a dozen times. Most of the time that is not a problem, but it might be sporty during the spring. You may have to rock hop or ford in places.
Trailhead Location: 40.881682,-111.844318
Trailhead Elevation: 5,160
Turnaround Elevation 6,250
Distance Trailhead to Canyon end: ~3.5 Miles
Hike Time: 4 Hours
Vertical Gain: 1,090
Getting There and Red Tape
The trailhead is located at 40.881682,-111.844318. From Interstate 15, take the 400 North exit. Head east (toward the mountains) onto South Bountiful Blvd. The trailhead is just to the south and across the street from the Bountiful Morman Temple (the big white church high on the hill) on the east side of the road.
The trailhead itself is clearly marked with a large brown sign (Sessions Mountain & Holbrook Canyon Trail). It has a bathroom facility with running water. There is parking for about 20 vehicles and room to park horse trailers.
There is no red tape other than inherent rules for USFS land. No fees are charged for use. Fires are restricted all along the west face of the Wasatch Mountains during the summer months. Dogs, horses and mountain bikes are allowed. No motor vehicles are permitted.
Wildlife in the area is typical of north Wasatch forests. The animals you will most likely encounter are mule deer, moose, squirrels, rabbits, and chipmunks. Predators in the area (which are shy and rarely seen) are coyotes, bobcats and the occasional cougar. Bird watchers can get an eyeful with everything from hummingbirds to vultures in the area. The canyon does get its share of rattlesnakes, so keep your eyes open.
Bugs are generally negligible with some flies, mosquitos and wasps. DEET will usually keep them at bay. When bushwhacking, be careful where you sit…there are lots of ant hills and, yes, they do bite. In addition, don’t shake dead trees in the forest and they are infested with some type of tiny painful biting bugs. Yes, the bites sting and cause swelling...avoid if possible
There are several good spots for primitive camping along the route. One in particular located about 1.5 miles up the canyon is a perfect winter spot. It is located next to a wind protecting rock wall, has an overhang to hide under during rainstorm and a cleared out area for tents.