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Butler Fork Trail Hike

Central Wasatch Mountains, Utah

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Butler Fork Trail Hike

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  • The early part of the trail.- Butler Fork Trail Hike
  • Mount Kessler (10,403 ft) looms overhead as you begin the ascent, but you'll have to turn around to see it.- Butler Fork Trail Hike
  • The Mount Olympus Wilderness. You can access many great areas from this trail.- Butler Fork Trail Hike
  • The fork in the trail: left goes to Mill A Basin and right goes to Dog Lake.- Butler Fork Trail Hike
  • Beautiful fall colors in the Wasatch.- Butler Fork Trail Hike
  • Fall in the Wasatch from the Butler Fork Trail.- Butler Fork Trail Hike
  • Fall in the Wasatch from the Butler Fork Trail.- Butler Fork Trail Hike
  • Fall in the Wasatch from the Butler Fork Trail.- Butler Fork Trail Hike
  • Fall in the Wasatch from the Butler Fork Trail.- Butler Fork Trail Hike
  • Looking east up Big Cottonwood Canyon.- Butler Fork Trail Hike
  • Not too long from here before you reach Circle All Peak lookout.- Butler Fork Trail Hike
  • Kessler Peak (10,403 ft) from Circle All Peak lookout.- Butler Fork Trail Hike
  • Mount Raymond (10,241 ft) is easily accessed from the trail.- Butler Fork Trail Hike
  • A fellow hiker who came down from the Lake Desolation Trail.- Butler Fork Trail Hike
  • Fall in the Wasatch from the Butler Fork Trail.- Butler Fork Trail Hike
  • Stunning display of autumn color below Mount Raymond.- Butler Fork Trail Hike
  • Mill A Basin and Big Cottonwood Canyon in general are simply stunning in the fall.- Butler Fork Trail Hike
  • Local legend Don Peay on the Butler Fork Trail. Over the years Don has helped raise millions of dollars with high-end hunts and used the money to help restore decimated wildlife populations.- Butler Fork Trail Hike
  • Keep your eyes peeled for abundant wildlife.- Butler Fork Trail Hike
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Amazing views. Incredible fall colors. Close to town. Low traffic.
Cons: 
Steep terrain. Rattlesnakes. No dogs.
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Region:
Central Wasatch Mountains, UT
Congestion: 
Low
Pets allowed: 
No
Net Elevation Gain: 
1,610.00 ft (490.73 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Summer, Fall
Total Distance: 
3.40 mi (5.47 km)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
7,139.00 ft (2,175.97 m)
Typically multi-day: 
No
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Pro Contributor

Butler Fork Trail is a great hike about half way up Big Cottonwood Canyon on the north side of the road. From the trailhead you have access to several great trails, peaks and lakes to choose from at your own discretion. This article covers the route leading to Circle-All Peak lookout by taking the Mill A Basin fork.

Starting out from the road the terrain gets real steep real quick, a common theme while hiking the Wasatch. Before too long the valley opens up and flattens out a bit and you come across a marked fork in the path. To the right you can head toward Dog Lake, normally accessed from Millcreek Canyon, but the recommended route is left following the sign to Mill A Basin. After walking through several large aspen groves you soon reach a series of switchbacks where your elevation and the views up canyon begin to really increase.

The autumn colors really start to take hold at this point of the journey. After reaching the crest the trail begins to swing north towards Gobbler's Knob and Mount Raymond. At this point begin to look for the unmarked yet very obvious trail that forks off to the left heading south, and proceed up the hill to reach a fantastic viewpoint. While this is named Circle All Peak, it really is more of a precipice than a peak. Labels aside, this is one of the best views in all of Big Cottonwood. Directly in front of you will be the dramatic Mount Kessler, to the left you can see all the way up the canyon, and to the right you can see all the way down to Salt Lake City. Not many lookouts in the canyon allow you to see so much of it at one time.

After coming down from Circle All Peak you can head home the same way you came, or you can continue on the Mill A Basin trail to summit Mount Raymond or Gobbler's Knob. The option to access Dog Lake and even Lake Desolation is available from here as well. As you can tell there are lots of great variations and destinations by heading out from the Butler Fork Trailhead. The absolute best time to be here in in the fall, when the colors will take your breath away, but this area is accessed year round by backcountry skiers and hikers alike. Be mindful of the weather for exposure concerns, and bring lots of water to deal with hot summer days. This trail is much less popular than many others in the area, which is great if you want to avoid the crowds. As always in the Cottonwoods, keep your eyes peeled for the abundant wildlife such as moose, grouse, hawk, hummingbird and marmot!

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