Claire Parsons

Claire Parsons

In October, we had the amazing opportunity to take some wonderful students from Eisenhower Jr. High School up Big Cottonwood Canyon through our Save Our Canyons Kids (SOCK) program. This program here at SOC gives us the chance to take students from the Salt Lake area out into the backcountry and teach them all about ecology and protecting the Wasatch. Our day was filled with learning all about how and why environments change so much during fall, how important our watershed is, why snowpack is essential, and ultimately, that anyone, at any age, can be a public land steward. 

For some, this was their first time ever hiking in the Wasatch and hearing their perspective was incredible. Here are some of the best quotes from the day:

“Look how epic these leaves are! These colors are crazy!”

“Holy wow. How are the rocks so shiny?”

“Wait, you mean, the water I drink at home comes from this canyon?”

“This is ours!!!”

“So like, I can come back here anytime?”

Hiking alongside students is always such a treat because it allows one to look at nature in such a genuine way. If you would like to partner with us anytime in the future to get more students out on the trail, learn more here!

On October 2, we completed our very last trail work day of the season up Millcreek Canyon at Thaynes Trailhead. This was the perfect opportunity to see insanely beautiful fall colors and finish the season with a hard working crew. This workday consisted of removing tons of brush off of the trail and reworking areas of the trail that have eroded. This allows us all to enjoy the trail much more than before and alleviate future degradation.  Additionally, we utilized the brush we removed to cover illegal dog trails. An illegal dog trail is when our sweet friends with paws cut the trail and create cat tracks that encourage continued use which is the exact opposite of what we want. We want a well built trail that contours our wilderness areas and reduces our overall impact. 

Our successful last trail day sparked an interest in summarizing our season highlights! We were able to successfully complete five WSP work days with 32 volunteers and cover 15 miles of trail. We completed projects on the Twin Peaks Wilderness Areas and the Mount Olympus Wilderness Areas at the following trailheads: Butler Fork, Mill B/Desolation, Lake Blanche, Thaynes, and Neffs Canyon. This season has been such an inspiration to all of us at Save Our Canyons - as a community, we accomplished so much! Truly, protecting the Wasatch and getting these important projects done would not be possible without all of you.

The rain came and so did our volunteers! We had quite the crew rally together up Neffs Canyon to complete our third trail work day of the season. Our main focus of the day was erosion control and reshaping this trail to allow water to run off and back into the creek. What a better way to test our systems than steady rainfall almost all day! 

Regardless of us all being soaked through our clothes, this day was a massive success. We were able to install two new water bars and clear a large portion of the upper trail free from overgrowth. The Salt Lake Ranger District (SLRD) taught us the importance of water maintenance and the impact poorly built trails can have on both the environment and the watershed. By building waterbars, you are allowing water to not sit in one place. When there are puddles, we naturally avoid them, which in turn, widens trails over time. This widening increases our impact. Ultimately, our goal through our Wilderness Stewardship Project is to maintain the trails throughout our wilderness areas to preserve these landscapes and our watershed.

Thank you so much to our mighty crew who had the most inspiring spirits: Lowell, Francesca, Alex, Greyson, Andre, Katie, Brett, Drew, Quang, and our three trail crew folks from the SLRD.

Fall is finally here! We had an incredible day up the Butler Fork trailhead with cooler temps and sunny aspens. With fresh moose tracks and the sounds of rustling leaves, our small, but mighty crew of four, had a very successful work day. 

With the rich riparian zone that lines the Butler Fork trail, the maples, willows, and wildflowers have taken over the existing trail. We spent the day removing most of this overgrowth to provide a more enjoyable hiking experience for those in the future. We also widened the trail in some areas to allow for more footing and to recreate a trail that has integrity. 

The Butler Fork trailhead has been a huge project for the Salt Lake Ranger District (SLRD). They have spent a large portion of their 2021 season reworking this heavily used trail and it looks amazing! In July, we were able to join them on a lower portion of the trail that needed a lot of reshaping and learn more about the overall goals of the area. Ultimately, the SLRD strives to build a stronger Wasatch for all of us to enjoy just like we do at Save Our Canyons. 

Thank you hugely to Thomas, Laurie, Drew, and Peter for all your hard work today! Even though our crew was smaller, I am so blown away by all we accomplished.

Just a few weeks ago we were able to complete our second Wilderness Stewardship Project trail work day of the season! With amazing fall temps rolling in, the smoky air could not deter our wonderful volunteers from a great day in the Twin Peaks Wilderness. Through a continued partnership with the Forest Service Salt Lake Ranger District, we are able to maintain and preserve the intricate trail system of both Big and Little Cottonwood Canyon. Together we are continuing to strengthen the public lands of the Wasatch. We worked our way up the Lake Blanche trail in Big Cottonwood Canyon to begin the repair on water bars that had blown out after our recent rain. The Salt Lake Ranger District informed us that it is important to maintain these water bars, as they ensure that our trails will not erode. Also, by building water bars, all water can find its way off trail and into the streams where it is meant to be.

We have found that when trails hold water, people who are using the trail tend to avoid the puddle. Over time and thousands of people walking over the same area, we see the trail widen which negatively affects the environment that hugs the existing trail. If water is properly managed, we are all less likely to damage the area. Our work day was hugely successful! We repaired almost 2.5 miles of trail with 6 volunteers! By dividing and conquering into smaller groups, we were able to address multiple areas where the original Lake Blanche trail needed maintenance.

I would like to personally thank the Salt Lake Ranger District trail crew for your outstanding facilitation and knowledge as well as the following Save Our Canyons volunteers: Mark Baer, Jim Thompson, Ryan Suen, Drew Elegante, Quang Vo, and Aaron Mast. We would not be able to complete this volume of work without each and every one of you. We have three more work days before we are greeted by the best gift, snow, and we wrap up our season. If you would like to join us this season, please sign up here!



Not even record breaking high temperatures and the smoke of wildfires can keep our incredible volunteers away! Last weekend we had the amazing opportunity to have our first Wilderness Stewardship Project trail work day of the season. Through a continued partnership with the Forest Service Salt Lake Ranger District, we are able to maintain and preserve the intricate trail system of both Big and Little Cottonwood Canyon. Together we are continuing to strengthen the public lands of the Wasatch. If you would like to learn more about the Wilderness Stewardship Project, click here!

The work day started with 11 determined volunteers gathering around at the Butler Fork Trailhead in Big Cottonwood Canyon. Led by David, Reed, and Thomas from the Salt Lake Ranger District, we gathered our tools and hiked a 1.5 miles to our work site. As seasons have passed, this particular trail has become overgrown with shrubs and wildflowers. Naturally, when a trail is overgrown, hikers will avoid the plants by walking around them. Overtime, this causes the trail to become rerouted which increases our overall impact in our wilderness areas in an unfavorable way. With that being said, our main goals of the day were to remove any plant material in the way of the trail and to widen the path which will naturally reroute the trail in the right direction. It was a great success! Our section of the trail will be much easier to walk on and enjoy.

If you are interested in joining us at our upcoming trail work days, be sure to sign up to volunteer on our website! Thanks to Cassidy Powell, Bob Myers, Kim Rhodes, Fisher Goodwin, Sasha, Sage Boyle, Sam Marks, Kati Bussell, Devon Sanborn, Aaron Mast, and Bryce Ipson for helping improve this trail system and our canyons! We couldn’t have done it without you!