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Utah's Wasatch Hiking Trails

Cardiff Fork
A Moderate Hike in Big Cottonwood Canyon
    Cardiff Fork
    Cardiff Fork
    Photo Gallery
  • Length: 5 miles round trip to Cardiff Mine, (7 round trip if you continue to the pass)
  • Elevation Gain: 1350 ft (mine) 2720 (pass)
  • Highest Elevation: 8,810 ft (mine) 10,200 (pass)
  • Trailhead:Mill D South Fork

cardiff fork mine This is a moderate hike in Big Cottonwood Canyon up to the remains of the old, abandoned, Cardiff mine. There is private property all around, so please stay on the trail.

Cardiff Fork Mine This trailhead is the same as the one for Donut Falls . The trailhead is on Big Cottonwood Canyon Road. As you travel into the canyon, just before the Spruces Campground, and at the popular wintertime sledding hill, there is a paved road (paved for awhile anyway) that goes south (or right from the main road). This spur road is also the road to take to get to the Jordan Pines Picnic area, as well as several private property lots. (Please respect the private property, and stay on the road or designated trail).

Cardiff Fork Trail Park your car in the parking area, then get back onto the road and hike up the old mining road. You'll shortly come to a gate preventing any vechicles from continuing on. I remember in the late '80's being able to drive up this road, and the first time I travelled on this trail was by 4-wheel drive vehicle in the rain. I was new to 4-wheeling, and terrified about going over the rain-washed, mud-covered ruts and rocks inevitable on a road that is not maintained. But those days are gone (being able to drive there), most likely to make it harder to get there so there is far less possibility of vandalism. If you have to hike that far, generally you are an environmentally conscious person who will not destroy property, and who will respect Keep Off signs.

Cardiff Fork Trail The trail is typical of the trails in the Wasatch--some steep spots and some gently-sloping and even flat spots. But on this one, there are a lot of sections that are covered with scree, thus making this one not a very good trail for bikers (so hikers are not likely to have to share with the wheeled vehicles). And everywhere you look, there are Keep Out signs. We were wondering if the signs referred to the trail itself (which is actually an old mining road). But we passed 2 other parties, and this trail is listed in several books, so we continued on. I assume the signs mean to stay on the road, and don't go into the brush (maybe intended for hunters?).

Cardiff Fork Trail The view consists of tree-covered hillsides and rugged peaks all along the way. The day we hiked here was in early October and most of the colored leaves had already fallen to the ground. So the hills were pretty bare. But that just drew attention to the rocky mountains and I found myself in awe of how beautiful and majestic they are.

Cardiff Fork Trail At about 2.5 miles in, you come to a junction. The right side leads down to one big remaining building (you can see this from the junction), and the left side heads up to what is left of another structure and the opening to the mine (now closed up). If you go down the right fork a little way there is another junction, and veering to the right takes you further down the path and to Cardiff Pass (elevation 10,200).

The mine itself is a piece of Utah's history. During the 1950s, the last family to manage the mine was one whose driving force was the matriarch of the pair - Desdemona Stott Beeson . They managed the Cardiff Mine for more than ten years until development of the Snowbird ski resort began a new era.

For more pictures from this hike, check out the Cardiff Fork Photo Gallery.

Backroads of Utah
by Theresa A. Husarik

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