Red Butte Gardens Loop Trail 1

Red Butte Gardens Loop: A trail and patient friend

Red Butte Gardens Loop Trail 1

A favorite photo spot covered in snow.

I’ve written briefly about this hike in my post, Five great early winter hikes in Salt Lake City, but I didn’t discuss it in depth. I didn’t share how this simple, beautiful, trail has helped me feel and process my emotions. It’s odd to think of a trail as a friend, but I do. I’ve grown a lot since moving to Salt Lake, and that can be both difficult and exhilarating. When I need to share, I head to this trail. I’ve cried tears of joy on its hills overlooking the Salt Lake skyline. I’ve also sobbed in pain. Ya, I’m THAT hiker.

Here are the dry details on the hike:

Red Butte Gardens Loop

THIS is the trail I’ve spent the most time on over the last few months than all others in a year. I love this trail, and probably shouldn’t even tell you about it. It’s actually not much a secret. The trailhead is located near the entrance to the Red Butte concert venue on the U of U campus. From a dirt parking area, it follows a road for about .25 of a mile then winds uphill behind Red Butte Gardens in a loop. A fork off to the left of this trail is another route to the Living Room. This path is perfect for trail running or, once again, sunset and night hikes. I’ve hiked this trail at midnight. It’s my go-to for a quick nature escape.

Trailhead: From Foothill Dr. turn onto Wakara Way, left on Chipeta Way, right onto Stover Street, which will turn into Red Butte Canyon Road. Park in the gravel lot in front of a gate.

I headed to the trail yesterday. I hurt over a Christmas spent alone and I was wallowing in self-pity.

The gravel parking lot was slick sheet of ice. I had to watch every step to avoid learning how to ice skate. Over my shoulder, I carried the new Nikon 1 AW1 that I’m reviewing. “It’s a good thing it’s shock proof,” I thought to myself, “because I’m gonna bust my butt out here today.”

As soon as I reached the stream near the trailhead, I began shooting photos. The snow turned the familiar landscape into a silent, monochrome, scene. The only sound, a few persistent robins looking for a meal. Placing my feet carefully on the slick compacted snow, I continued to where the late afternoon sun reflected off the crystallized snow. More photos.

Red Butte Gardens Loop Trail Stream

My first photo spot, a stream crossing.

My heart hurt. I missed my kids. More steps.

I enjoyed the views of the city and soon reached a spot on the trail where the trees lean across at just the right angles to frame good photos, only this time the snow added a new element. Camera up, camera down, more steps.

Snow and Orange Leaf at Red Butte

The color and the light really made this shot pop.

Sunlit Snow at Red Butte

The crystals on the snow captured the late afternoon sun.

As I rounded a bend where the view swept wide and unobstructed, it hit me. I was just fine. I had managed the holiday with even a few smiles. I got to FaceTime with my daughter, went skiing (albeit very poorly), and fixed a good frozen dinner prepared by the chef at Deer Valley. I hadn’t pulled the covers up over my head and sobbed at all. Okay, I watched a war movie just to see a friend who had a small speaking part. I guess that was curiosity, or could it have been a mild case of stalking? I’ll see if he’s stalking my site, and comments. That’s what friends in media do for each other, right?

Snowy trail at Red Butte

As the trail opened up ahead of my, I saw my emotions for what they were, and relaxed.

Red berries set against white snow. I smiled and raised my camera again. Sorrow turned to gratitude.

Red Berries on the Red Butte Trail

I nearly walked by these pretty rose hips.

Winding downhill toward the Natural History Museum, I achieved clarity. I had everything I needed within my amazing circle of friends and family who have there been for me all along, even from thousands of miles away. I’d survived my first Christmas alone. I was strong…and happy.

Funny how a pretty trail can bring life into perspective.

Have you ever found a trail that feels like a friend?

Snow, ice and rock at Red Butte

Snow, ice and rock.

Dried Flowers and Snow

I watched these flowers bloom over the summer, then got to see them set against snow.

Comments 2

  1. I’ve done this hike many years ago but forgot about it till I read your post. I’m going to have to check it out again. I am starting a group called Hike it Baby and a looking for trails for mama’s to go on. What do you rate this trail as far as difficulty?

    1. I think it’s perfect for what you suggest. It has some uphill in the beginning, but nothing too extreme. The trail is well worn with only a few rocky areas. I run and walk it.

      I look forward to hearing more about your group. Feel free to write a quest post promoting it for my site and I’ll push it out. I’m sure some of my readers may be interested.


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