Willow Creek - Cottonwood Loop, 2 June, 2024

Twenty (!) hikers and two dogs; Andrew, Bree, Brent J., Brent L., Clay, Dave P., Dave W., David, Darcie, Debby, Deanna & dog Jasper, Jane, Joan, Kamren, Kathy, Laurel & dog Zinnia, Matt, Sierra, Susan (trip leader), and Teresa gathered at the Smith’s Marketplace parking lot at 8 a.m. to overcast skies and the threat of rain.

The carpools arrived at the trailhead about 8:30 a.m. and started on the Right-Hand Fork trail stopping for a group photo near the trail sign. Hikers continued on to the Willow Creek Trail. After about two miles, they left the trail at a sharp bend/switchback and small stream crossing and headed northwest on an unmarked route.

This path was muddy and continued to a small cow pond. From there, the footpath became less well-defined, and the group continued cross-country through (pre-bloom) mule-ears (Wyethia amplexicaulis) north to a wide-open basin at the head of Maughan Hollow.
There were plenty of wildflowers but they were not as abundant as last year perhaps due to a dry April this year. Among the wildflowers noted were larkspur, Gray’s biscuitroot, and stands of blue camas (Camassia quamash).

The group proceeded northwest across the basin toward the ridge saddle. The Little Cottonwood jeep road was located just beyond this point. The group stopped for lunch at a rocky spot near some big tooth maples on the ridge near the road at about 10:40 a.m.

As we approached the ridge, the skies above the mountains looked misty and threatened rain but began to clear while we ate lunch.
Views of Mt Elmer, Beirdneau Peak, Logan Peak, Logan Canyon, and the Cache Valley and Wellsville Mountains are particularly striking at this location. This year, there was quite a bit of snow left on the peaks.

Following lunch, the group continued along the jeep road. At about 11:35 a.m. and after some discussion the hikers split into two groups. Eleven hikers and one dog took an overland cutoff that headed west from the jeep trail. Laurel had previously explored this area. Nine hikers and the other dog continued travel on the traditional route.

The two groups reconvened below the stock tank at the stream crossing about 12:10 p.m. to continue the hike through more camas fields and down through Little Cottonwood Canyon to the corral.

There was one trail runner on the jeep road and several more cars when we arrived back at the parking area. 

Trip Summary:
  • Twenty hikers and two dogs: Andrew, Bree, Brent J., Brent L., Clay, Dave P., Dave W., David, Darcie, Debby, Deanna & dog Jasper, Jane, Joan, Kamren, Kathy, Laurel & dog Zinnia, Matt, Sierra, Susan (trip leader), & Teresa
  • Drove 13 miles to park near Camp Lomia, Right Fork Logan Canyon
  • Started hiking about 8:40 a.m. with early lunch at 10:40 a.m. to about 11:05 a.m. at the ridge by the jeep road
  • Back at the parking area about 1:00 p.m. and Logan about 1:30 p.m.
  • Trails ranged from dry to muddy
  • Lush green spring growth, running streams, and abundant wildflowers
  • Overcast skies as the group headed out with some very brief periods of light rain, with some clearing after lunch
  • Temperatures about 65-70 degrees F and calm
  • About 6.5 miles with 1100 feet of ascent

Thanks to Susan for the narrative and photos, Dave P, Kathy and Brent L for photos, and Dave W for photos and GPS data. You also may enjoy the video David made. 

"This is where we leave the Willow Creek trail"

"Everyone line up for a group photo"

Our lunch spot on the ridge between Maughan Hollow and Little Cottonwood Creek

Looking northwest toward the peaks of the Bear River Range

A field of blue camas lilies, Camassia quamash (Camas was an important food source for native Americans)

Water trough made from an old haul truck tire
Rubber boa, Charina bottae

An unusual white-flowered specimen of the blue camas lily

Houndstongue, Cynoglossum officinale, a Noxious Weed
 Western bluebells, Mertensia oblongifolia (?)

Wild hyacinth, Brodiaea douglasii/Triteleia grandiflora Gray's biscuitroot, Lomatium grayi

Low larkspur, Delphinium nuttallianum (?)
Blue clematis, Clematis columbiana

Sun cups, Camissonia subacaulis

Our GPS track shows about 6.5 miles and 1100 feet of ascent.
You can look at our route using Google Earth or download our GPS file.