From SLC, head north on 7th East, then turn Right on 100 S. Follow this until it turns into N Campus Dr. Turn left into the IJ & Jeanne Wagner Jewish Center. The trail starts at the very end of this road, through the parking lot. However, NO parking is allowed in this area for hikers (there are probably 10 signs pointing this out, and you will be fined for violating the signs). You must park somewhere nearby (the U Hospital parking garage works. You just have to walk across a main road). Here is a map to the TH.
Distance: 2.6 miles RT
Elevation gain: 1,300 ft
Time: 1-2 hours
Yes. There are signs saying dogs must be leashed but nobody does. I do recommend keeping them on leash until you get past the BST, where many mountain bikers ride.
Kid friendly? Yes
What the TH looks like - walk through the narrow gate on the right.
Walk up the small hill, and you'll reach the BST where you'll most likely see lots of bikers. Turn right just around this corner arrow.
Head up the hill. This is where I usually take Charlie off leash. No bikers in sight - hooray!
At the next trail split, turn left.
Charlie leads the way.
The trail will turn East, curve around the foothill.
At the top of that section, you should have an awesome view of the Univeristy below, and the Wasatch ahead.
The trail will again turn left, and you will be on an old jeep road. You should clearly be able to see the summit from here. It's all very steep, so hiking poles are helpful for this trail.
Fact: Mt. Van Cott is named after Lucy May Van Cott, the first dean of women (1907-1931) at the University of Utah.
Turn left again and the next trail split, which leads right up to the ridgeline.
People always ask me, "How often do you see snakes while hiking around SLC or in the Wasatch?" I have lived in Utah for 3 1/2 years now, and have come across two snakes total, both on this trail. I saw one rattlesnake, and this one, a gopher snake. The next question is usually, "Well, what do you do with Charlie?" Honestly, Charlie doesn't seem to notice. He's too busy sniffing vegetation or following me on my heels. I saw this snake first, and just grabbed him and walked a safe distance around the snake. However, if you have a dog that is very inquisitive, then I recommend taking a local Rattlesnake Avoidance Dog Training class. You'll know you are too close to a snake when they start to coil or rattle a noise or hissing sound. Otherwise, as long as you hike around them by 3-4 feet you will be fine.
Once on the ridge, continue following it in a NE direction.
You will have a perfect view of the Avenues Twin Peaks!
Dogs need to drink frequently on trails, just like humans. The amount of water a dog should drink depends on activity level, size, age, and weather, but in general should drink between 8-17oz of water per 10 lbs. Charlie is 70 lbs, so he needs ruffly 70 oz. I don't carry a water bowel for him - all I do is fill my camelbak up full, and squirt water from my bite valve to his mouth. He has learned to drink from that, and it works great! No fussing with bowels. In summer, when it's really hot, I will make him carry his backpack and two extra water bottles. Be sure to check out my post on Backpacking with Dogs.
The trail will then turn SE again, and you'll see two old tracks. This leads you right up to the summit.
On Mt. Van Cott!
Perfect timing with the sunset and alpenglow along the Wasatch Front.
Heading back down, I had the most amazing light for photos! Evening is definitely my favorite time to hike in the foothills.
Hiking back down after the sun just barely set, with an awesome view of the Oquirrh Mountains. The highest peak in the Oquirrh's is Flat Top Mountain, which is at the southern end of the range.
My track via Gaia GPS. It took me 42 minutes to reach the summit.
Mt. Van Cott trail map looking NE.
Mt. Van Cott trail map looking East.