Silver Fork in Big Cottonwood Canyon has lots of moderate terrain and a reasonable approach. It’s one of the safest drainages between Big Cottonwood Canyon and Little Cottonwood Canyon, making it an attractive destination for ski tours. With magnificent views, open lower-angle slopes, and aspen glades, lower Silver Fork in particular lends itself to half-day outings.
While the steep cirques and bowls of upper Silver Fork are better accessed from Grizzly Gulch at the head of Little Cottonwood Canyon, the approach to lower Silver Fork begins in Big Cottonwood Canyon at Solitude Ski Resort’s lower parking lot. From the west end of the parking lot, head west and cross the ski run following the snow-covered road. The road takes you past a few cabins through thick woods into Silver Fork.
Once in the canyon bottom, several routes are possible to access the west ridge. This long ridgeline features broad, open faces that funnel into aspen groves and gullies. Known as the Silver Fork Meadows, or Meadow Chutes, many skiable lines are possible here. Be aware that while the slope angles tend to be moderate, some runs end in tight drainages or feature mid-slope breakovers that make close attention to avalanche conditions critical. The first skin track you’ll encounter here ascends through aspens up a fairly gentle shoulder of the west ridge. If the open, east-facing runs off of the ridge are sun-affected, another option is to descend Green’s Basin, a north-facing run off the end of the west ridge. The dense evergreens here hold good snow long after a storm. Later in the spring, the east-facing Silver Fork Meadows can provide excellent corn snow on sunny mornings.
Winter backcountry adventures can be dangerous outdoor activities that pose significant risks as conditions affecting safety (i.e. weather, snowpack stability, avalanche hazard) are constantly changing. Prior to engaging in these activities each individual should get the proper training to make safe decisions and be equipped to use avalanche safety resources and tools. Please visit our Backcountry Skiing and Avalanche Safety post to learn more.