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The North and South Willow Canyons are a great place to escape the crowds
that are prevalent around the Wasatch Front. Although they are only located
less than an hour from Salt Lake City, they still don’t have quite the
number of people the Cottonwood Canyons and Provo Canyons often see. This
is a great place to go camping, hiking, or dirt bike riding and still have a
bit of solitude.
North and South Willow Canyons are located in the Stansbury Mountains. This
range is located about 40 miles West of Salt Lake City. From Salt Lake City
drive West on highway 80 until you reach exit 88. Get off on exit 88 and
drive South on Burmester Road until you reach a T in the road. Make a right
and continue down North Street a bit, make a left on Hale Street and
continue on that until you reach Main Street. Make a right onto Main Street
and follow it until you see a sign pointing to the Willow Canyons. This
road will be West Street. Follow West Street out 3.6 miles to the turn off
for North Willow Canyon or drive out 4.9 miles to the turn off for South
South Willow Canyon is definitely more developed then its Northern brother.
There are five forest service campgrounds located in South Willow Canyon.
The Cottonwood Campground is the first campground you will come to along the
road. This campground has a few sites and is located on the banks of the
South Willow Creek. There are picnic tables and fire pits at all sites.
Next up is the Intake Campground, once again this campground is nestled on
the banks of the Willow Creek. There are four sites, each has picnic
tables, and fire pits. The bathroom is located near all the sites. This
campground is very shady and the sites are well spaced.
The Boy Scout Campground is the next one encountered. This campground has
eight shady, well-spaced sites. Each campsite features a picnic table and
fire ring. There are several hiking possibilities taking off from this
campground. The trailhead for the Southern portion of the Stansbury Front
Trail is directly in the campground. This trailhead leads to Hickman Canyon
and Big Hollow. The Medina Flat Trailhead is located just North of the
campground. This trailhead follows the Stansbury Front Trail to North
Willow Canyon, Davenport Canyon and West Canyon.
The Upper Narrows Campground is a walk-in campground. The campground is on
the other side of the creek and you have to walk over a bridge to access the
sites. There are six sites available. This campground can also be reserved
as a group area, 1-30 people costs $30.00 per night, 31-55 costs $55.00 per
night. The Upper Narrows are located near the campground. This is a spot
along the road where the walls of the canyon narrow down to the roadbed. The
Upper Narrows are home to about a dozen climbing routes. The rock is
limestone and the climbs tend to be a bit difficult. Bring a stick clip to
access the climbs along the Southern side of the road, the stream flows
right along the base of the cliff. Stick-clip the first bolt and swing
across the creek. There is a good topo
map for the routes here.
The Loop Campground is located at the end of South Willow Canyon Road. This
campground is located at 7300 feet and is a great way to escape the heat of
the valley in the summertime. There are nine sites nestled in a grove of
aspens and pines. Each site has a picnic table and fire ring, site #9 is a
double site. Like all campgrounds in the canyon each individual site is
$8.00 per night. The trailhead for Deseret Peak is located in the
campground. This trailhead provides an access to the summit of Deseret
Peak, at an altitude of 11,031 feet the summit provides fantastic views of
the surrounding terrain. The trail can be hiked in a loop or an up and down
return. From the campground it’s approximately three miles to the summit,
you’ll gain about 3600 feet to the top of the peak. The trail is well
marked and fairly obvious the entire way. Dave Hall's book, "Hiking Utah", has a good description of this hike and
North Willow Canyon is a bit more primitive than the South. The canyon has
no organized campgrounds, but there are many places available to camp.
There are numerous meadows located next to the road/trail. It is usually
pretty obvious where others have camped before, use the same fire pit and
don’t feel compelled to make your own “new” spot. There are many motorcycle
and horse trails snaking throughout the canyon. This canyon is a bit more
open and less lush than its southerly neighbor.
Pony Express Trail
Upper Narrows Campground may be reserved as a group area
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