As an avid hiker, there are three things that I require for a hike to be worthy of a return visit. First, it must have some natural beauty, preferrably in the form of shady trees to keep me cool and protected from the strong Utah sun. Second, a good hike needs some element of water, either a lake destination, where I can sit and think of nothing at all or a mountain stream, the sound of which instantly quiets my chattering mind. And last, but most importantly, a hike that gets my heart rate pumping so that I feel like I’ve had a good workout. The Lambs Canyon hike offers all this and more.
An ideal trail for summer and fall hiking near Park City, Utah, Lambs Canyon offers plenty of shade and begins by crossing a small bridge over a babbling brook. Hikers are immediately surrounded by groves of aspen trees, which are verdant green in early summer and shimmering gold during autumn. Towering evergreens complete the sensation of feeling totally enclosed underneath a canopy of trees.
The terrain on this Forest Service hiking trail is not rocky, and the wide trail is covered with pine needles and is mostly smooth except for some tree roots here and there. A few switchbacks make their appearance as the elevation increases and the hike tends to be a bit humid, by Utah standards, because of the density of trees and hidden streams.This four mile “out and back” trail takes about two hours to complete, longer for those who need to stop and catch their breath.
In terms of effort level, the beginning of this hike is easily characterized as moderate, but it definitely gets steeper as you increase in elevation. For those familiar with the Iron Canyon hike in Park City, the last third of the Lambs Canyon hike has the same grade and level of intensity as Iron Canyon, which I would characterize as strenuous.
While this trail gives you a true feeling of solitude in the woods, the downside is that there are no views until you reach the ridgeline where your hard work is rewarded with views of both Mill Creek Canyon and the Salt Lake Valley.
The Lambs Canyon trailhead is one of the easiest to access from both Park City and the Salt Lake Valley. Simply take Exit 137 off Interstate 80 and head 1.5 miles up the paved road until you reach the trailhead. Since this canyon is part of the Salt Lake City watershed, no dogs are allowed.
Be forewarned, there is very limited parking at the trailhead and the road leading to it is extremely narrow, so parking along the road isn’t an option. If trailhead parking is full, you’ll have to park at the entrance to the road, directly off of I80, which will add another mile and a half to your hike, each way.
Given the large amount of shade, Lambs Canyon retains some snowpack well into May, making this an ideal hike from mid-June to early October. Snowshoe enthusiasts will enjoy venturing up this trail in the winter, when the snow-covered trees provide an added level of solitude and silence.
In terms of trail connections, there is only one at the saddle of Lambs Canyon Pass. Here the trail connects to the Elbow Fork Trail that drops into beautiful Mill Creek Canyon. This will greatly extend your hike, however the downside of this approach is that you would need multiple cars – one parked at the Lambs Canyon trailhead and the other parked at the Elbow Fork trailhead in Mill Creek Canyon to shuttle you back to your starting point. This turns the hike into a bit of a project.
By the Numbers
Net Elevation Gain:
Total Distance (miles & roundtrip):
Effort Level (Easy, moderate, strenuous):
Moderate – strenuous (last third of trail before view)
Technical Rating(Green circle, blue square, double black diamond):
Bikes allowed, but not recommended
No dogs since watershed
Restrooms at trailhead
If you want to feel like you’re getting away from it all, Lambs Canyon is the trail for you. Aspen trees interspersed with evergreens make you feel like you’re alone in the forest, but with a view only at the top of Lambs Canyon Pass, this hike is more about the journey.
Trail Features: 4.5/5 – Heart pumping workout underneath a canopy of trees, but no view until the very top. The creek at the beginning is mostly hidden during the remainder of the hike.
Accessibility: 4/5 – Limited parking and not being allowed to take dogs on this trail keep the Lambs Canyon hike from being a solid ‘5’ and the fact that it only has one trail connection limits this trail’s versatility.
Liz Yokubison, Senior Editor