Saturday, April 22, 2017

Hiking: Yellow Fork Canyon

I have been on vacation this past week and due to life's circumstance, haven't had much of a chance to get out and hike. Friday, I made arrangements to do so. I had limited time and wanted to go someplace fairly close to home. I also wanted to go somewhere I'd never been. I had heard about Yellow Fork Canyon in Utah's Oquirrh Mountains earlier in the week, and since I hadn't done much hiking in the Oquirrhs, decided to give it a shot.
Let me say that first of all, I had a hard time finding it. It wasn't hard to find, it was just that I had a hard time finding it. I had not been able to find details as to directions to the trailhead, and the closest thing to details was "just follow Rose Canyon Road to the end and you'll find it". But that had been a few days before I left. When I arrived in Herriman Friday morning, I had no idea where Rose Canyon Road was. I stopped in at McDonald's and asked there if anyone knew where Rose Canyon Road was. No one did. I was having trouble getting my phone to connect to the internet for some reason, and I couldn't look it up.
I left McDonald's and since I already had some idea of where Yellow Fork Canyon might be, I drove around looking for Rose Canyon Road. I came across a road called Rosecrest Road and thought to myself that maybe I had it wrong and that the real name of the road I was supposed to be on was Rosecrest, not Rose Canyon. After driving up and down Rosecrest, I decided that it couldn't possibly be the right road, and after several attempts to get my phone to work, it finally did and I was able to GPS it to Rose Canyon Road.
Once on that road it was just a matter of following it, because the trailhead truly was at the end of that road. Unfortunately, I was unable to figure out where you would normally get on Rose Canyon Road because from Rosecrest, my GPS took me through subdivisions etc., to get there, which isn't the best route. And I was planning on noticing on the way out where the road began, but got a text from my sprinkler installer saying that my "son", which was actually my grandson Jack, was trying to help them and was getting in their way and could I deal with it because they were about to start using the trencher and didn't want him to get hurt. So I was busily trying to get a hold of Ann, so that she could tell Rebecca to go and get her son and that made me forget to notice where Rose Canyon Road began. I'm thinking though that if you get on 134th South in Herriman and head west that you won't miss it. And if you get out there and can't find it, use your GPS!
Once at the trailhead, there are several directions you can go. There's a map there, but I stared at it and tried to figure it out, and couldn't really do so. I noticed that part of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail ran through the area though. I chose a trail that went to the left, across a wooden bridge. This trail ended up following the ridge line, thus, it was the harder trail, but got me up high a lot quicker than any other direction would have done, and thus was a blessing in disguise. The trail was rocky and muddy, both because of the recent torrents of rain we've received. The rocks looked like what you see when all the soil has been washed away around them, so the water must've run down that trail pretty good.
Right after I left the trailhead, the trail started up the ridge.
I liked the way the light was shining on these moss-covered scrub
oak trunks.

A lot of flowers are coming out right about now.
After a while of walking the ridge, I began to wonder if I would ever come across a trail that would lead me down into Yellow Fork Canyon, which was to my right. I kept looking and walking, occasionally leaving the trail to look off to the side, taking pics.
Looking southeast
To me this kind of looked like a landscape on Mars if Mars had any plant life

View to the south

A bit to the northwest.

The mixture of clouds and sunlight allowed for some interesting views.
I saw this lichened rock from a distance and further away it looked like crop circles to me.
The views are great, and I could tell that if I had more time in the day to spend hiking that getting up higher would be even better. After about an hour and a half, I found an old road that headed down into the canyon. The trail on the ridge continued up and I decided that I would come back on another day for more exploration. Certainly with all the private property in those mountains, largely due to Kennecott and others, I had spent far less time exploring them than I would have liked. Incidentally, there is more access to the Oquirrhs from the Tooele side of the range.
This is where I turned right and went down into the canyon.
As you can see, the trail continues up along the ridge.
I continued down the road into the canyon below.
While the ridge line trail had been muddy, the road was even muddier.

Another canyon had opened up that led down into Yellow Fork, and I followed the road through this canyon down to the junction with Yellow Fork.
In the middle of the pic is the clearing where the road came down from the ridge.
The trail in the foreground is the trail in the bottom of Yellow Fork Canyon.
The canyon bottom was an entirely different experience than the ridge line had been. At the junction, I noticed that the trail continued on up and marked that one down too for further exploration. So many hikes, so little time!
Deer tracks were everywhere in the fresh mud.
There are a lot of deer along this trail system, and while up on the ridge, I had spotted some on a distant hillside. Tracks were plentiful in the mud.

The canyon bottom trail will definitely be the shadiest and coolest.

I saw this shelter someone had made.
It was a good nine feet tall.

One of many picnic areas. The rest didn't have tables.
One half mile from the trailhead, I found a group of picnic tables, and considering the scrub oak and other lower elevation plant life, and how wood ticks like that kind of brush, I composed a little poem in my head:

If you're gonna have picnics
Watch out for wood ticks.

A pretty little stream flowed near the picnic grounds.
Not a real extensive poem, as you can see, but very informative. I think I'll put that on a poster.
I arrived back at the trailhead and shucked my pack and my jacket, then went over to look at the map again. I still couldn't figure it out. I will have to look the area up in my map book that has quadrants of the entire state. I was actually doing pretty well on my handheld GPS until the batteries died. Oh yeah, always replace your batteries before you go. I would've, but I thought that there was no way I could get lost at this place so I didn't worry about it.
I would recommend this hike, especially the lower portion through the canyon, for anyone desiring an easy, kid-friendly hike. I would possibly wait for the trail to dry up if I was taking small children up there, and I would probably avoid the ridge with younger kids. 
All in all, while it wasn't as spectacular as some hikes I've been in, it was quiet and peaceful and I only saw a few people, all of them on the canyon floor. It was a good opportunity to get out and explore some place I'd never hiked before. It was a chance to unwind, and to think, and I never turn down that kind of activity.
For those interested in the extensive planning going on for this part of the Oquirrhs: Clickety-click

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