Willow Creek -Little Cottonwood Loop, 30 May, 2021 (Memorial Day weekend)
Fifteen hikers, Susan (trip leader), Jane, Dave W., Dave P., Laurel, Dave (new), Catherine (new), Jim, Nancy, Ralph, Christine, April (new), Chris, Dick, Deanna and Jasper the dog carpooled from Logan, leaving at about 8:05 a.m. and arriving at the Right Hand Fork trailhead about 8:30 a.m. Everyone was COVID-19 vaccinated and felt comfortable carpooling without masks.
The hikers started on the Right-Hand Fork Trail about 8:40 a.m. continuing on the Willow Creek Trail to an unmarked cutoff located at a sharp bend/switchback and small stream crossing (2 miles).
This faint normally very muddy path continued to a small cow pond. From there, the footpath became faint to non-existent, 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. This year, due to dry soils and serious drought conditions, there were fewer flowers but we were rewarded with stands of yellow Grays biscuitroot (Lomatium grayi), some blue camas (Camassia quamash) in remaining wet areas, as well as other wildflower species.
The group proceeded north across the basin to 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.
Views of Mt Elmer, Beirdneau Peak, Logan Peak, Logan Canyon, and the Cache Valley and Wellsville Mountains could be seen from here. Unlike 2019, there was little snow left on the peaks. Following lunch, the group continued west along the jeep road and down through Little Cottonwood Canyon to the corral and arrived at the parking area at 1:15pm.
When we first arrived at the trailhead three sets of tent campers were camping illegally in the day-use only area. Other than two mountain bikers coming down the trail as the group started up, we encountered no one else for the duration of the hike. Upon return the group encountered a few mountain bikers heading out, and a few extra vehicles in the parking area. The tent campers were gone.
Thanks to Susan for the narrative and photos, Raph for photos and Dave W. for photos and GPS data.