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Bells Canyon Trail - Little Cottonwood Canyon

Submitted By Dj Nebula Of SLC - Back To Little Cottonwood Canyon Hiking Trails

Back to Little Cottonwood Canyon

I have always wanted to know what was up Bells Canyon. From my Grandmothers Porch you can see all the way to the top. It is one gigantic granite circular, and I always heard about this upper reservoir. I waited a long time for a cloudy day that was cool because it is a long hike, with a lot of altitude gained in a short amount of distance. We started at the new trail head put in by Sandy City just below the Lower Bells Reservoir and headed directly up the trail.

Soon we were climbing a stair case of rock which never seemed to end. At the first ridge top, there is a place where run off has carved its way in the granite shelf that runs all the way up the canyon. Off to the left, in the climbing world were the Two Towers. They are massive granite towers climbers love. At this point we began are way up some switchbacks, then we came to a spot where there was trail restoration, kind of confused us for a minute till we saw a cairn marking the way. This trail is marked with more cairns than any other trail I have seen in the Wasatch. 

Then a steep bush whack to the next ridge. This ridge was a scramble on granite rock all the way to the top. Getting to the next ridge, we came upon a swampy area, where there were lots of mossy grass, and some camper improvised logs to rest on. Up we pressed on to a third ridge top, were we were scrambling up more granite, following the cairn trail.

We came to a wall of rock that looked like it was weeping. A little spurt of water was coming out of it about 10 feet up the granite, it was really interesting this dry granite leaking water. Once we got back on the trail, there were more granite slabs to scramble over, and finally we reached the top spot of the granite, with cairns showing the way.

The hike down was an adventure in its self because we lost the cairn trail, and had to traverse the boulder field on the left side of the canyon. Stay on the north ridge if you do this hike. If we were not so good at route finding, we could have gotten lost in the dark. We made it down ok, thanks to some maneuvering and route finding to get out of the canyon, we arrived at the car by dark. This is not a hike for a beginner. It has some terrain unfamiliar to most people, so traversing it for a new hiker can lead to injury. I would even suggest camping at the Upper Bells Reservoir over night, and then do the pass or the Beat out Hike the next day. The Trail was really fun and physically challenging. Not for the timid. Thank you to the nice gentleman who gave us a bottle of fresh water, for we had ran out on the way down the canyon.

  • Trail Information and Directions:
  • Little Cottonwood Canyon- Trail Head- On the Left Side of the road ¼
  • mile from Wasatch Blvd and the 9800 South Intersection.
  • Distance to Upper Bells Reservoir- 3 ¾ miles
  • Elevation Gain- 4100 vertical feet to 9400 feet
  • Hiking Time- 5hrs 38 min- from Trail Head
  • Lower Bells Canyon Waterfall
  • Lower Bells Canyon Reservoir
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