2 Trails, 1 Destination - Dog Lake between Big Cottonwood and Millcreek Canyon


At just over 8,700 feet, Dog Lake is located between Big Cottonwood and Millcreek Canyon near Salt Lake City Utah. While it is no where near the prettiest lake in the Wasatch, it does provide a nice hike with trail options from both Millcreek Canyon and Big Cottonwood Canyon. The lake is aptly named, but the views of the mountains, especially from the Big Cottonwood Canyon side are worth the journey.


Big Cottonwood Canyon Trail

Photo on the trail to Dog Lake from Big Cottonwood Canyon, Mill D, near Salt Lake City, Utah
Quaking Aspens and pines line the trail to Dog Lake

Dog Lake is reached from Big Cottonwood canyon from the Mill D Trailhead. The hike to the lake is almost 5 miles round trip and is a moderately difficult hike as you do gain a little over 1,400 feet in elevation up to the lake. This is a great hike in the late spring after the snows have melted, early on a summer morning, in fall to admire the colors of the quaking aspens along the trail, and in winter to snowshoe. In winter be careful, check avalanche conditions and be prepared.


The trail has gotten quite popular in recent years so don't expect much solitude on this trail, or at the lake itself. My favorite thing about this trail is the variety in vegetation and landscape. Wildflowers are common along the trail in the summer months, and groves of aspen trees and pine trees line the trail. You also get some great views of the surrounding peaks of Big Cottonwood Canyon. My favorite time to hike this trail is an early summer morning to catch the dew on the wildflowers, or in the fall to admire the changing of the leaves.


Millcreek Canyon Trail

Wildflowers along the Mill D Trail on the way to Dog Lake in Big Cottonwood Canyon, near Salt Lake City Utah
Beautiful wildflowers can be found along the way

Dog Lake is reached from Millcreek Canyon from the Big Water Trail. This trail is slightly longer than the Big Cottonwood Trail, about 5.2 miles instead of 4.9 miles, but gains about 200 feet less in elevation, making it a little less steep. The Big Water Trail is open to both dogs and mountain bikers. While you can only hike from the Big Cottonwood side, you can mountain bike and bring your dog from the Millcreek side.


Great view of the peaks along Millcreek and Big Cottonwood Canyon can be seen from the trail
View of the canyons peaks are seen along the way

To manage traffic on the trail, mountain bikers are only allowed on the trail on even numbered days. Dogs are allowed on the trail every day, but must be on leash on even days and can be off leash on odd-numbered days. The trail from Millcreek is a fun mountain bike ride and great if you have a dog, but if you are going to hike to dog lake without a four legged friend, I recommend doing it from the Big Cottonwood Canyon Trail.


If you are looking for a moderate and beautiful hike or mountain bike ride, I highly recommend Dog Lake. Probably not ideal for little kids, but definitely doable for 6+ years in my opinion. For more information on the use of bikes and taking dogs up Millcreek, check the Salt Lake Park's webpage here.


This mountain stream runs along the Mill D trail as you make your way to Dog Lake, Big Cottonwood Canyon, near Salt Lake City Utah
Mountain stream along the Mill D trail

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