Willow Fork OverviewDirectly across the highway from Solitude Ski Resort resides Willow Fork. Located in Big Cottonwood Canyon, this fork is a "refuge"(meaning it can resemble a ski resort) in times of high avalanche danger. Avalanches still occur here, even on the 30 degree sections. However there are several safe routes and hills that do not avalanche. Willow Fork is one of the greatest alternatives when the steeper lines and forks of the Wasatch Range are a No No.
Getting Up ThereThere are two ways up Willow Fork. Both take about the same amount of time to complete.
1. The most common way is to start at the Upper Solitude parking lot and cross the Big Cottonwood Canyon highway. You should see a somewhat plowed cabin road. Follow the road till it makes a sharp bend. At the sharp bend start heading across (down canyon) along the trees. You will have a choice to keep following the trail or head up a ridge. Take either trail till you reach the top of Willow Fork.
2. "The harder to find your way up" way is to start near or just above the Kickers Backcountry Market and start heading up the through woods. Keep going till you hit the beaver ponds. From here you want to keep on the right side of the ponds and start skinning up through a series of treed flats and slight uphills. Keep bearing slightly right till you see the all too obvious main middle ridge of Willow Fork.
Decent Route DescriptionsWillow Fork has many ski runs to offer........................
1. Will's Hill- Not the safest of lines that Willow Fork has to offer but if you can catch it first it can make your day. This line does slide time to time so be ready for anything. To find this line you must 1st find Willow's Middle (and only) ridge and drop in skiers right. A video of me skiing Wills Hill can be found by clicking on this link Tyedyetwins Headcam (Wills Hill)
2. The Hourglass The Hourglass is shorter than Wills Hill and usually the safer option. This run is very wide and easy to find so good luck with first tracks but there is always a fresh line somewhere.
3. The Powder Purse- The Powder Purse, The Sneek, are just 2 of the too many names for this hill. To find this run skin up either Willow Fork or Mill F (USA Bowl) and to the tiny summit that divides the two forks. Drop into the Willow side of the ridge and enjoy.
4. The L Woods- Located at the bottom of Willow Fork these woods are perfect when the avalanche danger is high. Even when the 30 degree slopes are sliding out the L Woods are the safest retreat that the Wasatch has to offer. To find these just park just above the Kickers Backcountry Market and head into the trees. These trees are the run.
5. North Willow- North Willow definatly takes 1st place for the most frequent avalancher in the fork. Even when it does avalanche it wind loads quickly and repeats again and again. If and when you can catch this area in stable conditions it can be worth your while. Some would even go as far to say that this area has the best snow and skiing that Willow Fork has to offer.