Overview.Little Mountain is one of those easy access all season peaks located in the southern most end of the Wasatch North Range. This peak is great for a quick trip up and down if passing through the area, before or after work or just for those feeling the need to get out. The views afforded from the top are excellent. To the west Emigration Canyon stretches straight west looking down into Salt Lake, Dale Peak and the Emigration ridge just to the south west. Southern views show vistas of the Central Wasatch area, Mt. Aire and Mt. Olympus. The northern views are exceptional as well, Grandview Peak dominates the skyline.
[img:646798:alignleft:medium:Summit area during summertime.]
[img:593755:alignleft:medium:A late evening shot from the summit looking down at Salt Lake.]
Getting There.Best access to this peak is from the Little Mountain Summit pass area. There are two ways to access this pass from the Salt Lake area:
Emigration Canyon access:
Starting at the mouth of Emigration Canyon, drive up the canyon (east) 8.5 miles to the pass. Use caution as Emigration Canyon serves both residential, commercial, and outdoor enthusiasts alike.
Parleys Canyon access:
Once entering Parleys Canyon on I-80, continue north east for 6 miles, and take the Mountain Dell exit heading north on highway 65. Continue for 2.45 miles, and turn left, west. Continue upward to the Little Mountain Summit area for 2.1 miles.
Once reaching the pass area there is a dirt parking area with a restroom facility available. This marks the start of the route for both Little Mountain and Dale Peak. GPS info for this area is: 40.46493 N, 111.43123 W, 6,270 feet.
One thing to note also is the fact that both portions leading up to the Little Mountain parking area is utilized heavily by joggers and bicyclists. When traveling in the area keep your eyes peeled for these folks, mainly when going around the many curves on the road.
Red Tape.Fortunately as of now there are no fees to access this area. The Little Mountain Summit area has a high pressure gas turbine facility very near the parking area, and slightly above about 300 yards are some other gated facilities, mainly utilities.
Hunting Season: During this time of the year be sure to bring an orange vest and hat, both Little Mountain and the Big Mountain area to the south are very popular for locals. Fellow SP'er Dean experienced this directly while up on Dale Peak during the hunting season of 2009.
The parking area can be somewhat congested on weekends, in both winter and summer. Mountain biking is popular on the Great Western Trail to the north, and during winter the area is used for folks on inner tubes, sleds, ...etc.
Camping.The best camping is probably located in the canyons further south, mainly Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons. The campsites located there are best reserved early on in the season to ensure a camp site. (Fee's are required) Back country camping in the area may be possible, however the area is dotted with private land and may not be incredibly enticing with the roar of vehicles on the Parley's Canyon side with I-80 below.
Here is link from Utah.com, featuring camp sites near the Big Cottonwood area. Check it out and take your pick.
Utah.com camping link.
When to climb and gear.The great thing about this peak and the area is it's ease of access and year round use. The year round opportunities are abundant.
Summer, Spring and Fall.
During these seasons the proper attire, weather pending is mainly all one will need. The summer season will get hot, plan of some sunscreen and plenty of water. Most footwear can be worn on the route up, nothing rugged will be needed. The area can get muddy during the early/mid spring season or just after a fresh storm, plan on dealing with that aspect accordingly. Also as mentioned in the Red Tape portion it would be wise to pack along some orange apparel during the fall hunting season.
This is the best time perhaps to hit up this peak while the higher Wasatch Peaks are rampant with avalanche danger. Virtually no avalanche danger exists on this route/peak. For those wanting to stretch their legs snowshoes or skis will definitely help out, when the snow is fresh. Snow in the shaded areas and on the peak can get some depth. Proper winter attire will be needed though nothing too advanced.
[img:593756:alignleft:small:Snow conditions during a late evening winter snowshoe, summit ridge area.]
Route information.South west ridge, via Little Mountain pass.
One way mileage: 2.25
Elevation gain: 805 feet.
Class I and II.
Rough time needed roundtrip: (Conditions permitting) 1-3 hours.
Once reaching the pass area (labeled Little Mountain Summit on the USGS map) the route starts across the road directly up the ridge to the north. The old jeep trail is gated, after passing this and heading up hill to the ridge, follow the ridge in a fairly straight north east line for roughly two miles. Once reaching the two mile marker a smaller sub peak can either be ascended or bypassed on a trail on the east flank. Either route up the sub peak will bring you to a small pass. The trail continues north, loosing altitude. At the pass begin heading off trail through some minimal brush to the east, reaching the southern end of the Little Mountain Summit ridge. Once reaching the ridge, continue north to the high point roughly .25 miles. The summit is marked by brush and grasses.
[img:596856:alignleft:medium:Dean's great photo showing the trail bypassing the sub peak.]
[img:596855:alignleft:medium:Dean's photo shows the route either up over the sub peak or around it, heading to the saddle area.]
[img:593200:alignleft:medium:Little Mountain Topographic. ]
[img:593197:alignleft:medium:View of the route along the ridge.]
[img:593191:alignleft:medium:Looking north at the last few yards to the summit area. ]
There are many other off trail approaches to this peak, via Killyon Canyon to the north, and the Mountain Dell area to the east. If using these routes long pants are recommended as bushwacking will be required.
Mountain weather.The weather on this peak due to it's lower altitude is not too extreme however there are probably those times when heavy snowfall can inhibit access making travel to the peak challenging. Please check the weather link before traveling out to the area.
The closest area in terms of altitude to this peak is Park City, Utah.
Park City, Utah weather link.
Also included is general information provided by the Utah Commuter link site. The peak and area is located close to the "Killyons" tag on the map, to the north west of the reservoir.
Utah Commuter Link.
Geology.Much of the area in which Little Mountain resides is a very cool looking Nugget Sandstone formed during Jurassic time, 144 to 208 million years ago. Quarries in Parleys Canyon to the south west of the area use this sandstone as well as Jurassic Limestone for building in Salt Lake City. Nugget Sandstone is the equivalent of Navajo Sandstone in Utah's Canyon Country. Much of the rock in the area is folded into an east-west syncline that is cut off westward by the Wasatch Fault. Triassic, Permian and Pennsylvanian rocks are also part of this syncline which appear at higher elevations to the north and south. Cretaceous rock is located close to the nearby Mountain Dell Reservoir which is the youngest rock in the region.
[img:543628:alignleft:medium:Utah Geologic Relief Map.]
History.One thing that makes this area unique is the Donner Reed-Mormon trail which passed directly over the pass where you'll be parking your car to access this peak. Both early pioneering parties crossed this section. This was the last major obstacle for the Mormon Pioneers just before reaching "This is the Place" monument area in July of 1847. There have been plaques at the Little Mountain Pass area before, though vandals have caused issues with keeping them in place.
Below is a link providing a brief explanation about the history of the pioneering trek westward from the Utah History Encyclopedia site:
Utah Mormon Trail link.
This is an aerial view of the old trail and the current road leading up Little Mountain. Little Mountain is off to the left of the photo.