Perhaps Millcreek Canyon's most popular traihead is the Big Water Trailhead. Located at the end of the narrow summer road (approx 10 miles from the base of the canyon) is the main parking lot. This large trailhead has several overflow parking lots avalible but even they can and do fill up on weekends. From the upper most parking lot starts the 2 main trails, which are the Little Water Gulch and Big Water Gulch trails.
These 2 trails provide access to Dog Lake, Little Water Peak, Reynolds Peak, The Desolation Trail as well as Upper Millcreek Canyon. From November 1st to July 1st the summer road of Millcreek Canyon is snowcoverd and closed to vehicle traffic. During these months just getting to the trailhead is a 5 mile treck, full of dogs and cross country skiers. Overall this trailhead and its surrounding trails, despite the big crowds or time of year, are well worth checking out for yourself.
To get to the Big Water Traihead start by getting off of I-215 at 3900 South. Make a left and at Wasatch Blvd make another left. Drive down to 3800 South and make a right. Continue driving up the road as it makes its way up Millcreek Canyon. Drive until the end of the road and park at the well marked trailhead.
There are two main trails that start at The Big Water Trailhead.
Big Water Gulch (3.0 miles) The Big Water trail may be longer (3 miles according to the sign posted at the bottom) than its sister trail Little Water Gulch, but big water is no where near as steep. For mountain bikers the extra distance is worth the lack of climbing over the steps of Little Water Gulch. This trail tends to traverse its way across Big Water Gulch as it slowly makes its approach up to Dog Lake. The large pine trees and thick forest growth that line the trail keep the summer sun and heat at bay, making this trail perfect for the dead of summer.
Little Water Gulch (1.9 miles) A lot shorter and a lot steeper than Big Water Gulch this trail is more meant for hikers rather than mountain bikers. This trail starts at the east end of the Upper Big Water Trailhead. At first the trail climbs alongside the Millcreek river. Soon the trail will bend south into Little Water Gulch. From the bend the real uphill starts. While climbing through open meadows and thick forest there are several wildflower patches alongside the trail. In the fall months the Aspen Groves turn from green to bright yellows and dark reds, making September-October the recommended months for hiking this trail.
One of the biggest attractions when the Big Water Trailhead opens is the wildflowers. Around every July is the best month to see the Columbines, Geraniums, Chokecherrys as well as several other types of flora. Near August the Indian Paintbrush is usually the last of the flower spectacle.
Due to the vast amount of forests, meadows and a constant year round water supply, the upper Millcreek Canyon area is home to several species of wildlife. All your common mountainous organisms such as Black Bears, Cougars, Deer, Moose and Rattle Snakes commonly roam this area. For them this is their home, so please do not approach any wildlife. While hiking at night it is more than a good idea to keep small children, pets and the bear spray close to you.
Millcreek is one of the few canyons (for now) that charges a fee for its use. Right now the price is $3 for a day and $40 for a 1 year seasons pass.
Mountain bikers are NOT allowed on odd days on the Great Western Trail, Big Water Trail and the Little Water Gulch Trail.
Dogs are allowed every day but must be leashed on even days. When in developed picnic areas, cabin areas and/or parking lots, all dogs must be leashed regardless of what day it is.
Camping is not allowed within a 1/2 mile of the road.
No motorized vehicles are allowed on the trails.