An excellent way to kill some time and stretch your legs on a lazy Sunday.
After a pretty action packed Saturday I was fully committed to spending Sunday curled up on the couch watching the Jets lose to the Dolphins. It took a sequence of three enthusiastic play bows and one not so subtle fluffy paw to the elbow from Jasper to give me the literal nudge I needed to peel myself away from my couch cocoon.
Ry pulled up all trails.com and I instructed him to find a hike without much elevation gain within an hour's drive. He satisfied half of those requests. Quick word to the wise: when a hike has the word 'peak' in it it's a pretty safe assumption that you'll be moving in an upward direction.
We don't visit either cottonwood canyons often (ever) as they are watersheds in which dogs are, understandably, not admitted. Clayton Peak is an exception as it falls just on the other side of the cottonwoods, something in such close proximity to the forbidden lands of Big Cottonwood Canyon made me feel a bit sneaky...and I liked it. We had an easy drive to get to the parking lot for Clayton Peak, encountering snow on the road just twice. The parking lot itself was full to the point that cars were waiting in a line to take over spots as others vacated. We scored one of the few side-of-the-road spots, but be prepared to get creative (safe and legally) with where you leave your car.
The trailhead is easy to spot and even with a dusting of snow at the base the trail itself was clear. It was also clear that I had been duped. The trail shot straight up into the trees and I could see there would be no reprieve. With almost 1000 feet of elevation gain over just 2/3 of the 1.25-mile each-way trek you can count on an immediate glute blast and even more immediate gorgeous views.
Views, y'all, this hike has 'em. We had a relatively clear day and were able to see the snow covered High Uintas, Timpanogos, Jordanelle, mountains all around and the lakes below. Footing was a bit slick in spots, if you have snow grips or traction shoes I recommend them. If you were hoping to use trekking poles to assist your climb be prepared to tuck them away for the last quarter plus mile as you will be doing some hopping over large rocks and small boulders and the use of your hands might be desired.
After the pups got their fill of snacking on snow we turned back, using my foolish idea to hike in nikes to my advantage I did a squat glissade down any snow packed portions of the trail. 10/10. This hike is a total of 2.5 miles roundtrip and can be done as an out and back or you can loop through Brighton. You can also add a mini loop past Bloods and Lackawaxen Lakes which are also both dog friendly. We veered off about halfway down to find the loop trail that takes you to Bloods Lake so the dogs could take a dip and because a rippling lake surrounded by snow is absolute magic to witness.
We are adding this hike to our list of quickies for any early-dismissal-from-work weekdays but will likely hold off until spring/summer. The snow is starting to accumulate, and with the large boulders at the top it didn't strike me as a pleasant snowshoe adventure. I will update if we venture out in the winter and discover otherwise.