Mill D to Dog Lake Bridges Project

The Central Wasatch Commission has allocated $20,000 to construct two bridges on the Desolation Trail from Mill D North Fork Trailhead below Dog Lake in partnership with Trails Utah and The U.S. Forest Service (USFS). Currently, the Desolation Trail from the Mill D trailhead leading to Dog Lake from Big Cottonwood Canyon exists in a gully and runs up the side of this gully. The steep grade of this trail is both unpleasant for users and erodes the hillside, which leads to a high influx of sediment to the stream below, creating watershed contamination issues.

Topographic map of the location of the bridges. Provided by John Knoblock, Trails Utah.

The USFS will be building switchbacks on this steep section of the Desolation Trail. However, the switchbacks that are to be built cross over the drainage from the east side of Reynolds Peak. Because of this, two bridges will need to be built over the drainage. The total cost of the project is $22,0000, with the CWC allocating $20,000. The project has already gone through the NEPA process and is also being funded by Salt Lake County Parks and Recreation bond money. The USFS trail crew will install the bridges on site. Without funding from the CWC, this project would otherwise have not been able to be completed in the 2020 work season.


Sarah Bennett, Trails Utah co-founder says, “Trails Utah is thrilled to partner with the Central Wasatch Commission and the Salt Lake Ranger District of the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest to get this needed project accomplished. Our mountain trails are a tremendous resource and we need to pull together to make sure they are maintained to the level that keeps them both enjoyable and sustainable.”

When will the project be completed?

This project will be finished in the USFS 2020 work season.

Why does this project matter to the Central Wasatch?

The construction of two bridges and the implementation of switchbacks on this section of trail will have a high impact on the various user groups that enjoy this trail. Many people use this trail and these updates will make for a positive and needed upgrade. This project will have long-lasting impacts because it will help to mitigate erosion, making the trail more sustainable into the future.

How does this project connect to the missions of the Mountain Accord and the CWC?

Photo of hiker, Georgiana Knox, hiking at Dog Lake. Taken by Quinn Graves.

Funding the construction of two bridges on this section of trail aligns with the pillars outlined in the Mountain Accord Charter. First, the treasured watershed and ecosystem of the Central Wasatch will be better protected with these trail updates because erosion from the currently steep trail will be mitigated. Adding switchbacks and bridges over significant water drainage will minimize the amount of sediment that is eroded into the waterway. Second, the trail improvement is an example of recreational stewardship for a trail that sees many user groups throughout the year. A trail that is built better will last longer into the future for future generations to enjoy.

Written by Quinn Graves

Header image of a hiker crossing over a bridge on the Mill D Trail. Taken by Quinn Graves.

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