Dog Lake is one of those mountain bike rides that locals with a mountain bike have done at least once. Theres a reason for its popularity, mainly because the trail is perfect, smooth, buffed-out singletrack that ascends on a low angle as it winds through gorgeous pine groves and aspen trees until it ends at a cute, little mountain lake nestled into the Wasatch Crest
. You can also connect to the Wasatch Crest
trail (Great Western trail?) and several other trails.
This 6-mile, 1200 vertical foot out-and-back ride starts out on either lower or upper Big Water trail, connects to Dog Lake trail and ends at a wonderful little lake oddly enough called Dog Lake (yep, folks like to bring their dogs up here and let them swim). The trail and lake are dog friendly and one of the few areas that allow dogs. So it can get crowded. Weekdays are less crowded.
Dog Lake ride is located in upper Mill Creek Canyon where you can find the trailhead at a parking lot. Note that bikes are only allowed on this trail on even-numbered days and that the gate to upper Mill Creek is only open from July through October. Otherwise you have to bike on the road from the gate to reach the Big Water Trail
You can find the Big Water Trail
parking area at the top of Mill Creek Canyon east of Salt Lake City. If possible, park at the lower lot as thats where Big Water begins. The upper lot is the start of the Little Water Trail
, but you can park here if the lower lot is full.
After parking, ride for 1.5 miles on the Big Water Trail
through incredible stands of old-growth pine forest. Youll find switchbacks, wooden bridges over streams, and easy uphill pedaling until you come to a fork. Left takes you on the Wasatch Crest
trail (Great Western trail), so youll want to hang right and continue to Dog Lake. This is where Dog Lake trail starts.
Eventually, you'll come to another intersection. Hard left takes you onto Little Water trail (a blue/black steepish descent). On the right are two trails (well marked) that take you up to Dog Lake. The leftish trail is 0.3 mi and is a mellower climb. On the right is a 0.2 mi that is steeper (but still pretty easy and fun). Both go to Dog Lake.
Most folks take the leftish (0.3) up and then descend on the 0.2 mi trail. As usual, do be careful on the descent and yield for climbers.
After a short ride you top out at Dog Lake. The naming of the lake becomes obvious as its a very popular swimming hole for pooches cooling off after a 3 mile hike. The lake is the perfect place to take a lunch break and snap some photos. You may even be lucky enough to see a moose come lumbering out of the woods for a drink at waters edge.
Now the fun begins (not that the climb wasn't fun :-)). The descent is the highlight of Dog Lake as that buffed-out singletrack you rode up becomes a fast and flowy cruiser run. Sublime. Although you can really open up the throttle here, be very careful as the trail is popular with hikers and their dogs and can get pretty crowded. Please be cool and do stop for folks climbing up.
And don't forget to "Look, Listen, and Smile"!