The Temple Quarry Trail at the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon near Salt Lake City is a great short trail for families. This flat, paved loop trail is less than half a mile long and is wheelchair and stroller accessible. It's a fun little nature walk with historical features. Signs describing both the natural and historical features are posted all along the trail.
The Mormon pioneers started building the Salt Lake Temple around 1862 with granite quarried from this site. Large granite boulders littered the canyon floor and workmen used picks and hammers to split the rocks into pieces that were carried by ox cart until a railroad line was completed in 1872. Some of these boulders can still be seen along the trail and chisel holes are still recognizable.
The fall leaves were at their best on the day we visited. My children were delighted when they spotted a couple of tiny lizards along the way. There were boulders to climb and places to explore. There is a creek bed alongside the trail. It was dry on the day we were there, and my kids spent a lot of time playing among the smooth granite stones there. It will probably be filled with icy water in the spring, but it would not be difficult to keep young children out of it if you keep close track of them.
Good to Know
Where: Follow signs from Interstate 215 to Little Cottonwood Canyon. Snowbird and Alta ski resorts are in the same canyon, and signage for these popular resorts is plentiful. At the mouth of the canyon, look for a large sign indicating the “Temple Quarry Trail” turnoff. Turn right, then turn left immediately.
The short, narrow road leads to a small parking lot, which also services a mountain bike trail. The lot was full when we arrived, but the Temple Quarry Trail was not crowded.
When: The fall colors were lovely when we walked this trail, but spring and summer would also be nice times to visit. The road to the parking lot is gated, so if the gate is open, the trail is too.
How Much: FREE
How Long: You can walk the entire trail in less than 15 minutes, but there's no reason to rush. Plan for an hour, give or take, depending on how much your family likes to read every sign and explore.
Amenities: There is a bathroom at the trailhead, but it is primitive. Bring your own hand sanitizer.