Friday, June 7, 2019

Hiking the Terraces Trail, Millcreek Canyon

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Hiking the Terraces Trail, Millcreek Canyon, Hiking in Utah with Dogs, Hiking in Millcreek Canyon
The Terraces Trail in Millcreek Canyon follows the Elbow Fork Ridgeline, starting from the Terraces Picnic Area, and ending at Elbow Fork along the Millcreek road. There are several options for hiking this route 1) loop, 2) point-to-point, or 3) out-n-back. This route is NOT safe in winter, due to how this trail is situated on a steep North slope, with higher elevations above you that can potentially slide.

Loop
The best time to hike this as a loop is in June, before the winter gate opens, when the snow has melted, and it's safe to walk along the road. For this route, you'll park along the Millcreek road, hike up the Terraces Trail from the picnic area, hike up and over the ridge, down to Elbow Fork, then back along the road to your car. This route is 4.5 miles, and the one I will be describing in this post. 

Out-n-back 
Start by parking at the Terraces Picnic Area, then hike up and over the ridge, down to Elbow Fork, then back the same way. This is the longest route at 6 miles RT, and gains elevation both directions. This is a good option for when the Millcreek Road is open in the summer (July 1 to Oct 31) and there are a lot of cars that make it unsafe to walk along the road.

Point-to-Point
This is the shortest of the 3 routes, at only 3 miles one way. This requires you to leave one car at the Terraces Picnic Area AND the Elbow Fork TH. This is another good option for when the Millcreek Road is open in the summer.

All three options follow the exact same trail, it's just how you want to complete it. It's a very shaded trail, making this perfect on hot days. However, there is no water along it. I love doing this after work to fit in a good workout within two hours, and you'll gain 1200 ft in just 2 miles.


Drive up Millcreek Canyon for 4.5 miles, then turn right at the narrow bridge with a sign for Terraces Picnic area. If you reach the winter gate, you went too far. Drive up the narrow road until you reach the picnic area, and turn left. Drive to the end of the road where there is a large picnic area. The trail starts in the back of the picnic tables, with a sign for Terraces-Elbow Fork Trail.

Here is a driving map

Distance: 4.5 miles RT (loop)
Elevation gain: 1,200 ft
Time: 2-3 hours
Dog friendly? 
Yes, off leash on ODD days. Must be leashed on EVEN days.
Kid friendly? For older kids, yes
Fees/Permits? 
Millcreek charges $3 upon exit. You can also get an annual pass for $40. Millcreek does not accept any other passes (National Parks Pass, AF Canyon Pass, or Mirror Lake Highway Pass).

Hiking the Terraces Trail, Millcreek Canyon, Hiking in Utah with Dogs, Hiking in Millcreek Canyon
The turn for the Terraces Picnic Area can be hard to miss - there's no sign before it, so you have to know where to turn. Look for the two yellow/black posts and the immediate bridge. You'll then see the sign right after, which you can barely see here.

If you are doing the loop, you will want to park up here. Make sure you park across from this turn into Terraces Picnic Area, then walk up the road to the actual TH. This will create your loop hike. 
Hiking the Terraces Trail, Millcreek Canyon, Hiking in Utah with Dogs, Hiking in Millcreek Canyon
If you are hiking this as an out-n-back or point-to-point, then you will want to park at the TH by continuing up this road.
Hiking the Terraces Trail, Millcreek Canyon, Hiking in Utah with Dogs, Hiking in Millcreek Canyon
 At the "T" in the road, turn left. Right takes you to the Bowman Fork TH.
Hiking the Terraces Trail, Millcreek Canyon, Hiking in Utah with Dogs, Hiking in Millcreek Canyon
Walk to the end of the road, and continue past all the picnic tables. 
Hiking the Terraces Trail, Millcreek Canyon, Hiking in Utah with Dogs, Hiking in Millcreek Canyon
 You will now see the official trail sign.
Hiking the Terraces Trail, Millcreek Canyon, Hiking in Utah with Dogs, Hiking in Millcreek Canyon
 This trail is great because its really shady, so its perfect for hot summer days with the dogs.
Hiking the Terraces Trail, Millcreek Canyon, Hiking in Utah with Dogs, Hiking in Millcreek Canyon
Hike up a few long switchbacks, then reach the Mt.Olympus Wilderness sign.
Hiking the Terraces Trail, Millcreek Canyon, Hiking in Utah with Dogs, Hiking in Millcreek Canyon
 More switchbacks.
Hiking the Terraces Trail, Millcreek Canyon, Hiking in Utah with Dogs, Hiking in Millcreek Canyon
In June the trail was SO green! In my opinion, the best time to hike here is early summer when everything is blooming and still green. 
Hiking the Terraces Trail, Millcreek Canyon, Hiking in Utah with Dogs, Hiking in Millcreek Canyon
Eventually you'll reach an open ridge area, and will have a look at Mt.Raymond.
Hiking the Terraces Trail, Millcreek Canyon, Hiking in Utah with Dogs, Hiking in Millcreek Canyon
 Back into the trees.
Hiking the Terraces Trail, Millcreek Canyon, Hiking in Utah with Dogs, Hiking in Millcreek Canyon
 The trail gradually gains elevation for  2 miles.
Hiking the Terraces Trail, Millcreek Canyon, Hiking in Utah with Dogs, Hiking in Millcreek Canyon
 Near the top of the ridge, you will have a great view of Mt.Aire to the North.
Hiking the Terraces Trail, Millcreek Canyon, Hiking in Utah with Dogs, Hiking in Millcreek Canyon
At 2.3 miles, pass another wilderness sign.
Hiking the Terraces Trail, Millcreek Canyon, Hiking in Utah with Dogs, Hiking in Millcreek Canyon
 You will now work your way downhill. It's a little steep but not horrible. This is the reason I like to hike this counter clockwise - I would rather hike UP a more gradual trail and down a steeper section. However, again, you can hike this either way.
Hiking the Terraces Trail, Millcreek Canyon, Hiking in Utah with Dogs, Hiking in Millcreek Canyon
 At 2.6 miles hike under the low hanging electric pole wires.
Hiking the Terraces Trail, Millcreek Canyon, Hiking in Utah with Dogs, Hiking in Millcreek Canyon
At 3 miles you will reach the bridge, and will now be on the Millcreek Road again. If you plan to hike this as a loop, continue walking down the road. If you do this as a point to point, the is where you'll want to park the 2nd car. And the 3 option, is to simply turn around to create an out-n-back route.
Hiking the Terraces Trail, Millcreek Canyon, Hiking in Utah with Dogs, Hiking in Millcreek Canyon
 You will also see the sign from the Millcreek Road at the bridge. 
Hiking the Terraces Trail, Millcreek Canyon, Hiking in Utah with Dogs, Hiking in Millcreek Canyon
We made our way back down the road to meet up with our car, creating a 4.5 mile loop. Just want to emphasize that I highly recommend NOT hiking this as a loop when the road is open July 1 - Oct 31, as there are A LOT of cars and it's not safe to walk down this road. 




Loop Trail map


 

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