Located up Big Cottonwood Canyon in the Wasatch Mountains, Broads Fork Trail is a steep and challenging day-hike that leads you to a world-class wildflower meadow beneath a cirque of peaks. This is a wonderfully diverse trail that passes through heavy pine forests, dense aspen groves, and between large open meadows. This hike has many features that vary from vast, sweeping views to tightly packed wooded areas reminiscent of the Northwest. All of the classic Utah wildflowers are found here in summer: Indian paintbrush, lupine, and especially the large fields of bright yellow arrowleaf balsamroot.
This journey begins with a steep ascent right out of the gate before it levels briefly to give you a small view down canyon. Before you know it the pitch increases again as you make your way through the first pine forests. Further up and past a small bridge you reach the lower meadow and a welcome flat stretch of trail. It is after these lower meadows that the aspen begin to dominate the trail. This signifies that while you still have some challenging terrain ahead, you are at least getting close to the cirque.
As you approach the upper meadow with the beaver pond you'll begin to realize that this is not just another day hike. Looking north you'll see a giant open vista on your left that displays a large stretch of the Cottonwood Ridge in the distance. As you manage to turn your gaze away from the views to look south you will be overtaken by the sight of Sunrise, Dromedary, and Twin Peaks looming overhead. In the early summer you will be greeted by one of the more tightly packed wildflower fields in Utah. You may need to remind yourself you aren't hiking in Switzerland.
This cirque is one of the most spectacular locations in all of the Wasatch. The difficult trail ensures you will not have to share the view with too many fellow hikers. The hike's statistics listed with this adventure apply to the journey to the beaver pond, but there is a lot more hiking to be done if you continue up trail toward the base of the three peaks. Several options for summits and the ability to head over to Lake Blanche make this a great jumping off point for more adventure.
Be prepared for some solid elevation gains on this adventure, and watch out for rattlesnakes, since they seem to like this canyon. While difficult, the visual rewards on this hike are some of the best Utah has to offer. Like many hikes in the state, this one is close to town, but what makes it different is how few people actually know abut this trail. It's not hard to find if you know where to look. Find the small wooden trailhead marker at the far southwestern end of the parking lot to start your journey.