The thing that I have found helps me to get through winter in Northern Utah is embracing it. Once I am playing in the snow and admiring all the ice crystals it is then that I find peace. I feel so privileged to be living so close to MOUNTAINS.
Seriously, I can be in so many mountains/canyons in less than 30 minutes. I personally love Salt Lake City so much for this very reason. It is so close to mountains and I find that frequently taking my kids outside helps me in so many ways. First of all, my house stays clean, and second my kids almost seem to be in their own element.
They love to explore and hitting the trails seems to so easily meet that need. I am no longer their only entertainer, Mother Nature takes the lead on that! Also, almost always, once I am outside I wonder why I ever hesitated in the first place. (Probably because dressing everyone up in snow suits, boots, gloves, hats, and jackets takes 30 minutes.)
Guardsman Pass Road links Big Cottonwood Canyon to Park City/Heber. I used to spend a lot of summers up Big Cottonwood Canyon and became very familiar with this route. However in the winter most of the road is blocked off due to snow. So, I decided to head up the road as far as I could take my car.
It is a SUPER EASY trail. At the time we didn’t really need snow shoes. I would pay attention to the weather, if you go up a day or so after a storm you will probably need them as there will be a lot of fresh powder. However, give it a few days after a storm and you will probably be fine without them, especially your kids. I went with a friend of mine who didn’t want to wear them, and as long as she stayed on the main section she was fine. My kids enjoyed it too and we just wondered up.
Sometimes my kids wanted to slide down on the sides of the trail with the trees to feel some real powder and to play in it. For the most part we mostly just strolled. It’s more difficult to predict how well my kids will do when I snow shoe with them like this. So I try not to have very high expectations of where we will end up.
If I continued for 2.5 miles I would get to Guardsman Pass Overlook where I would have a view of Heber. I’m sure it’s gorgeous in the winter. However, I am pretty sure my kids wouldn’t make it that far and then want to hike back.
So, we were only out for about 30 minutes and then turned around to head back to the car.
This is a really EASY trail. There’s not much elevation gain, the trees are GORGEOUS and if you want to slide off and roll in all that powder that is always an option too. However, if you’re looking for a fun snow shoe hike without taking little feet, this would be a SUPER FUN trail. I am going to need to get a sitter so that my husband and I can do this on our own! I am very interested to see what the overlook of Guardsman Pass looks like in the winter. I’m sure it is absolutely breath taking.
Anyways, if you are looking for a chance to play in the snow even if the sun has melted it all away from your front yard I would recommend this trip. It’s not far from SLC, it’s free, and it’s pretty easy/flat. I threw snow pants, gloves, boots, and a jacket on my kids and we were good to go. They really enjoyed exploring winter up in this area.
Author: Rhiannon is from Salt Lake City. Due to the amount of little feet trampling around her home she prefers to find herself outside. She enjoys running, reading, hiking, Utah history, and sharing adventures with anyone who wants to tag along with her little entourage.
Getting to Guardsman Pass Road
Once you pass Solitude Ski Resort reset your odometer and at 1.2 miles you will make it to the turn off to the road. It’s a pretty sharp turn and has a street sign. The name of the street is Guardsman Pas. The first part of the road is probably cleared because there are people who live up here, but not very far up the road is completely blocked by snow, like 6 feet of it.
There are lots of people who snowmobile up in this area and I imagine that the weekends would be pretty difficult to find an easy parking spot. We parked along the side of the road, where other trucks and trailers were parked as well. We unloaded the car and climbed up on to the snow.