Mill Creek Canyon road is gated, about 4 miles up the canyon, from November 1 to July 1. Usage fee of $3 per vehicle is required upon leaving the canyon.
Trail runs along the north slope of Mill Creek Canyon. The trail can be accessed from four points along the canyon road. The Elbow Fork trailhead is at the eastern end of the Pipeline
trail, at the highest point of elevation on the trail (approx 6,570 feet). From Elbow Fork, the trail is relatively flat for 1.5 miles, until it drops about 500 feet to the Porter Fork access point on the canyon road.
From Porter Fork, the trail is generally flat, with a slight grade leading west toward the valley and the final viewpoint. There are some short segments of brief climbing which can be walked. While the trail remains nearly level on the north side of the canyon, the canyon floor continues to descend sharply toward the valley. After Porter Fork, there are only two points connecting the Pipeline
Trail to the canyon road: Church Fork and Rattlesnake Gulch, which are intermediate technical descents.
The trail itself is generally suitable for confident beginners. There are some segments with short climbs, and longer segments of loose rocky trail surfaces. In many areas at the western end, there is exposure to significant elevation which would best be avoided by anyone with a fear of heights.
The trail is extremely popular with hikers, runners, dog walkers, and bikers in the summer months. Be prepared to stop and yield.