Saturday, July 24, 2010

Cold Water Canyon Trail Near Ogden, Utah

Location:  About 1.5 miles East of Valley drive where Rainbow Gardens restaurant is.  Turn off for the parking lot is just passed the sign for Indian Trail and just before the Smokey the Bear sign indicating the fire danger today.  There is a large kiln is in the parking lot next to the trail head.


  • Easy to master entire trail in a few hours.
  • Water along part of trail.
  • Mostly shaded.


  • Only short stretch of trail near water.
  • Confusing at times to stay on trail.
  • Dusty.
This was our first time hiking this trail.  I was concerned about being able to find the trail head and to have some place to park.  I have been up and down Ogden Canyon driving, but had never noticed the parking lot and the sign for Cold Water Canyon.  I had, on the other hand, had noticed the giant kiln, which it turns out is at the trail head.

There was a decent amount of parking in the parking lot and there was a little turn out across the street from the parking lot that could provide parking for a few cars.  The only problem we found with parking was that when we were leaving we noticed that it was tricky to back out if someone was parked behind you due to the parking spots being close together.

We reviewed the trail maps in the parking lot and had some confusion on where the trail began.  The map showed the trail going from the kiln.  The kiln had two dirt trails going up the sides of it.  They were very steep and it seemed wrong, since I had read online that the trail was kid friendly.  We climbed up there and all that did was get us to the top of the kiln.

The top of the kiln was a large flat area with a big circular grate over a giant hole.  The hole appeared the be the chimney for the kiln.  The top of the kiln must have been 20 feet squared and the metal grate 6-10 feet in diameter.  It was neat, but it was treacherous getting up and more so getting down.  Looking over the edge gave me serious vertigo.

Once we got down we reassessed our position and found that there was a trail to East and front of the kiln just passed the trail maps.  It was much more of an even climb.  That turned out to be the trail head to Cold Water Canyon trail for which we had been looking.

Most of the trail was shady.  There was lots of scrub brush foliage and scrub oak looking trees with patches of evergreen trees and a few birch trees.

I'm guessing it was about a half mile up the trail when we came upon a camp site.  I think we passed a couple of guys, on their way down the trail, that were likely camping there last night.  

A little bit before we got to the campsite there appeared to be a switchback on the trail.  We did not follow it and found that continuing straight was the correct course.  Although we were a little confused because the correct trail started to descend.

The camp site is right next to a tiny foot bridge that possibly goes over a little stream in the spring.  A few yards behind the camp site there was a stream that still had water in it.  There was a decent fire pit and it appeared further off the trail and into the brush there was a little alter looking thing that I think was also supposed to be a fit pit, but it was not near as well put together as the one closest to the trail and most out in the open.

It appeared that the site could accommodate a couple of large tents and several small ones, especially if you take the small ones off the trail a few paces and away from the fire pit.  It was very well shaded.

The trail cuts behind the campsite and mostly follows the stream.

Once the trail follows the stream, there were plenty of place to get close to and even into the water.

The trail appears to be maintained well.  There are places where there are switchbacks that have retaining walls. The walls seemed fairly new.  There were not broken or rotted boards.  The same was true for the foot bridges.

Right before you get to a foot bridge where the stream turns left, Cold Water Canyon trail turns left.  It rises above the stream for a short time.  The stream then drops to the right and disappears.  A moment later a dry stream bed begins to follow the trail or the trail follows it, however you like to think of it.

The branch to stay on Cold Water Canyon trail appeared much last traveled.  The trail was narrow and the tall grass encroached on it.

We only went a bit further up the trail after the turn away from Indian trail.  Before turning back we talked with a couple that were hiking with their dog.  The guy said that the trail would go all the way to Snow Basin if you kept going.  Although I did not see anything about that while I was researching the trail before we left.  My research show it was only 1.3 miles.  When we stopped I reviewed the map and it does appear that the trail goes in the right direction to get to Snow Basin, but the part that is on the map appears to stop a couple of miles short.

We turned around and went back to the foot bridge on Indian trail.  We sat and read and wrote a while.  Our 7 year old girl and 9 and 11 year old boys liked running on the bridge and playing Billy Goats Gruff.  They also seem to enjoy climbing on the rocks and such.

In the stream there was a rock shaped like a big chair that we took turns sitting on.  Sitting on it kept you nice and cool.

As mid day started approaching, like around 11, a few bees and flies became very active.  They weren't overwhelming, but something to be aware of if someone in your party is averse to a few active bugs.

We went at the end of July.  The stream was a bit more than a trickle.  Plenty enough water to be enjoyable, but no white water.

There were several man made benches alone the trail.  There was one by the foot bridge we stopped by and I think there was one at the campsite we saw.

When we headed back down we noticed that just past the "switchback" we had seen on the way up there was a great view of the canyon on two sides of us.

I had a lot of trouble finding all the details I wanted before venturing out on this trail, so please leave me a comment if this post was useful to you.  I will try the next time we got to take video and still cameras with me.

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