Mount Raymond Big Cottonwood Canyon

Overview: The hike to Mount Raymond via Butler Fork provides a rich selection of eye candy and experiences: lush aspen forests, open views up Big Cottonwood Canyon, fun rock scrambling, 360-degree summit views, and the challenge of a vertical climb combined with strolling through an aspen grove. It’s a winning combination that takes you to a 10,241-foot peak.

Start: Butler Fork trailhead

Distance: 7.8 miles out and back

Hiking time: About 4.5 hours

Difficulty: Strenuous

Elevation gain: 3,100 feet

Trail surface: Dirt and rock path

Best season: Summer and fall

Other trail users: None

Canine compatibility: Dogs prohibited

Land status: Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest; Walter F. Mueggler–Butler Fork Natural Research Area; Mount Olympus Wilderness Area

Nearest town: Brighton

Fees and permits: No fees or permits required

Maps: USGS Mount Aire

Trail contacts: Public Lands Information Center, Recreational Equipment Inc., 3285 East 3200 South, Salt Lake City 84109; (801) 466-6411. Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest

Finding the trailhead: From Salt Lake City take I-215 south to 6200 South (exit 6). Turn left (east) off the exit and continue for 1.7 miles (6200 South becomes Wasatch Boulevard) to the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon (UT 190). Turn left at the signal onto UT 190 and drive 8.2 miles up Big Cottonwood Canyon to the small parking area and trailhead on the left side of the road. GPS: N40 38.963', W111 39.707'

The Hike

Mount Raymond is one of the most prominent peaks on the north side of Big Cottonwood Canyon. The well-defined trail runs through a protected area called the Walter Mueggler–Butler Fork Natural Research Area.

The trail begins next to a stream as it heads up the Butler Fork drainage, and as you cross the stream on wooden bridges and low water areas, the stream moves from the right to the left side of the trail. Nice tall evergreens and a spattering of the quaking aspens you will see farther up the trail shade some sections, while other sections of the trail open up to the sun.

The trail enters the Mount Olympus Wilderness Area at 0.4 mile and you reach the first signed intersection at 0.5 mile. Head toward Mill A Basin whenever the trail signs give you the option. The stream continues for the first 0.75 mile of the trail, and at 1.3 miles you break out of the trees and gain a view down Butler Fork and Big Cottonwood Canyon.

At 1.7 miles you get your first good look to the west at the big rocky slab face of Mount Raymond. You also get your first look at some of Big Cottonwood's tallest peaks across the canyon on the south side. Twin Peaks (11,302 feet) sits to the west; Sundial Peak (10,282 feet) sits to the south. This is a nice vantage point for locating and identifying the peaks and drainages that surround you.

At 1.9 miles you enter the aspen groves that stretch across Mill A Basin, and the climb slows to a stroll through the beautiful, colorful aspen. A few hundred feet later a trail junction points you left toward Mill A Basin or right to Dog Lake. Head toward Mill A Basin.

At 2.2 miles the view opens to the south. The two peaks on the far west are Twin Peaks, the peak east of this is Dromedary, the next peak is Sunrise, and the peak that is covered with trees and sitting in the forefront is Mount Kessler. From here the trail continues to scoot through the aspen. At 3.0 miles you come to the first unmarked trail junction. The left fork heads down past the foot of Mount Raymond into Mill A Basin; the right fork goes up to the Baker Pass saddle between Mount Raymond and Gobblers Knob. Take the right fork and climb out of the trees to the saddle. Here, above the tree line, the trail heads along the ridge to the southwest and the trail becomes a stairway of crumbly limestone and quartzite. The trail follows steeply along the ridge and winds down to the west side a bit as it makes its way up to the summit. From the saddle to the top you have expansive views the entire 0.7 mile.

As you get closer to the summit, the rock piles become larger and the trail becomes less defined. You can see the summit, so you know the direction you are heading, but the last 0.2 mile is all rock scrambling to make it to the summit. At 3.8 miles you’ll have to climb up a sheer striated rock slab to continue. The thin trail picks up again as it weaves through the rock piles to the top.