Willow Creek / Little Cottonwood Loop, 4 June, 2023

Fifteen hikers and one dog; Susan B. (trip leader), Jim, Dave P., Ralph, Catherine, David, Michelle, Laurel and dog Zinnia, Susan R., Kathy, Jane E., Joan, Jane, Deanna, and Teresa.

The final section of the road was closed due to a washout caused by this year's heavy snowmelt, so hikers parked near Camp Lomia and started out about 8:40.  After 0.6 miles walking along the closed road, they reached the Right Hand Fork trailhead about 8:55 and continued to the Willow Creek Trail.  Two miles later they left the trail at a sharp bend/switchback and small stream crossing and headed northwest on an unmarked route.

This faint path was fairly muddy and 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.

Due to the high soil moisture from the heavy winter snowpack, we were rewarded by vast stands of blue camas (Camassia quamash), arrowleaf balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagitta), bigleaf balsamroot (Balsamorhiza macrophylla), and yellow Grays biscuitroot (Lomatium grayi). These were particularly spectacular. Many other wildflowers and flowering shrubs were also observed.

The group proceeded northwest 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 at about 11 a.m. Storm clouds started to form to the west. We managed to stay on the edge of the clouds until the last mile or so of the hike.

Views of Mt Elmer, Beirdneau Peak, Logan Peak, Logan Canyon, and the Cache Valley and Wellsville Mountains could be seen from here. This year, there was quite a bit of snow left on the peaks. Following lunch, the group continued west along the jeep road and down through Little Cottonwood Canyon to the corral. We continued back along the closed road and arrived at the parking area at 1:20  p.m., just before it started to rain.

Several hikers, some with dogs, a trail runner, and some mountain bikers were encountered. A dirt bike passed us on the road back to the parking area.

Trip Summary:
  • Fifteen hikers and one dog; Susan B. (trip leader), Jim, Dave P., Ralph, Catherine, David, Michelle, Laurel and dog Zinnia, Susan R., Kathy, Jane E., Joan, Jane, Deanna, and Teresa
  • Drove 13 miles to park near Camp Lomia, Right Fork Logan Canyon
  • Started hiking about 8:40 a.m. with lunch at 11 a.m. to about 11:30 at the ridge by the jeep road
  • Back at the parking area about 1:20 p.m. and Logan about 2 p.m.
  • Trails ranged from dry to muddy
  • Lush green spring growth and abundant wildflowers
  • Sunny skies heading out with storm clouds building by lunch-time
  • Temperatures about 65-70 degrees with a light breeze by lunch 
  • About 7.5 miles with 1100 feet of ascent

Thanks to Susan for the narrative and photos, Deanna, Dave P, Kathy, Catherine, Michelle and Jane for photos and Ralph for photos and GPS data.

The Right Fork road was washed out before the trailhead

At the Right Hand Fork trailhead

A newly-worked section of the Willow Creek trail
Previous trail work kept the creek from flooding here

Entering upper Maughan Hollow

Peaks of the Bear River Range, looking west across upper Maughan Hollow (click here for higher resolution image)

Lunch on the ridge
An obsidian flake, evidence of long-ago tool crafting

 New sign at the Maughan Hollow Trail/Little Cottonwood Road junction
Erosion on the Little Cottonwood Road

Flower-filled meadows of Gray's biscuitroot (left) and blue camas, right

New sign at the north end of the Little Cottonwood Trail
Heading down Little Cottonwood

A damaged part of the Little Cottonwood Trail A sagebrush meadow with Indian paintbrush, Gray's biscuitroot and (not yet blooming) mule-ears

Hikers were delighted by the numbers of blue camas lilies in the Little Cottonwood area (photos above)

A few of the blue camas flowers were white

Bigleaf balsamroot
American bistort

Indian paintbrush

Death camas (left) and blue camas (right)

Gray's biscuit-root
Arrowleaf balsamroot

Western blue clematis
Sweet pea


Mountain bluebells
Heartleaf arnica

Our GPS track shows about 7.5 miles and 1100 feet of ascent.
You can look at our route using Google Earth or download our GPS file.