- Grizzly Gulch
- Toledo Bowl
- Emma Ridge
- Pink Pine Ridge
Little Cottonwood Canyon in Utah snakes 7 miles from the Salt Lake Valley to the town of Alta in the heart of the Wasatch. This scenic Utah route offers some of the best backcountry skiing near Salt Lake City. Known for champagne powder and easy access, Little Cottonwood Canyon can’t be missed by anyone with touring skis or a splitboard and is a great place for beginners interested in backcountry skiing near SLC, Alta and Snowbird.
Here at White Cloud Concierge we recommend four simple ski tours in Little Cottonwood Canyon. Before you go, make sure to have your beacon, shovel and probe handy and be well educated on avalanche knowledge and how to use these devices. Remember to check the Utah Avalanche Center to make sure you are making the right decision in avalanche terrain and follow avalanche safety protocols related to LCC and the Wasatch.
At the end of Little Cottonwood Canyon next to Alta Ski Area, use your alpine touring skis to skin up the groomed cat track. When the avalanche danger is rated as low this is a great place to practice hiking with skins, beacon practice and digging pits while testing out your gear. There is almost always a groomed cat track to Twin Lakes Pass and from there you can access Patsey Marley or the Patsey Trees which are both relatively low angle and will return you back to the Grizzly Gulch Cat track.
Being a gulch, there are north and south facing slopes and there is often a best side depending on the snow, wind, and sun. The top of Grizzly Gulch on Davenport Hill or Patsy Marley are great places to watch a sunset or sunrise before skiing down.
Another on of the four simple ski tours in Little Cottonwood Canyon is skinning up from the Central Alta Trailhead to Toledo Bowl. Start at the “Are you beeping?” sign and head towards Cardiff Pass until you get to the face of Toledo Bowl. The terrain is straight forward and clear of trees. Being south facing, it gets a lot of sun and is best enjoyed before a sun crust forms. If temperatures stay cool, it is a fantastic powder field from top to bottom. Make sure to check the Utah Avalanche Center before heading to Toledo Bowl and to have the right training and tools. No trees mean that avalanches can run long and wide here, but the slope angle is low enough that avalanches happen less frequently here than other places nearby
Known as the ridge that separates Big Cottonwood Canyon from Little Cottonwood Canyon, Emma Ridge provides beautiful views of the Wasatch and both Canyons. Start hiking east of the Bay City Tunnel and ascend a small ridge that lies between Emma #3 and Emma #4. Emma Ridge is relatively safe, but be aware of the snowpack and terrain traps that surround the area. Always go with one or two friends and expect this route in LCC to take around an hour to reach Emma Ridge.
The Emmas are in between Toledo Bowl and Grizzly Gulch and if somebody is looking for a longer ski tour in Little Cottonwood Canyon, they could do a run in Toledo Bowl, head up to the Emmas, then finish in Grizzly Gulch. It’s a great way to earn some nachos at the end of the day!
Pink Pine Ridge
This backcountry tour is known as a short, relatively safe and easy tour located in Little Cottonwood Canyon. The trail starts at the White Pine parking lot and is a bit closer to SLC than other routes offering the option for an easy tour before work in the morning. With beautiful lower canyon views and the option to head up the ridge line as long as you like this is one of the best four simple ski tours in Little Cottonwood Canyon and an overall quick hike.
Learn about other winter outdoor recreation options to enjoy during the snowy months in Salt Lake City!