The Casual Hiker™

Trails, Tips, & Other Topics

Grandeur Peak (via Church Fork) May 3, 2017

Grandeur Peak (via Church Fork)Grandeur Peak2

  1. The trailhead is past the paved Church Fork picnic area. Hike through the picnic area to enjoy the waterfalls.
  2. Pipeline intersects the trail. Go to the left a few steps, then right at the fork. The rest of the trail is obvious.
  3. The first mile is shady and cool with a mountain stream. Then it becomes more exposed and steeper with switch backs.
  4. At saddle, go to the left and along the ridgeline. At this point, you’ll have views of Parley’s Canyon and the north end of the Salt Lake valley. There will be a steep section with minor rock scrambling.
  5. Pass a grove of juniper.
  6. Once passed, go left for final rounding of Grandeur Peak. Again, some minor rock scrambling is involved in a few places.
  7. Ta da. At top, you’ll have a  360° view of Parley’s, Lamb, and East Canyons to the north, Salt Lake valley, and the length of Millcreek. Enjoy a picnic and relax before the return trip along the same path.

Snowshoeing with Your Dog March 13, 2015

Chante and Elvis, Millcreek Canyon, copyright Chante McCoyHave you ever thought about snowshoeing? The snow is still here despite what the groundhog said, so you might as well enjoy it. You can still hit the trails, a snow-layered golf course or city park, or a closed canyon road, such as the one a few miles up Millcreek Canyon.

The cold is no excuse to stay home. Dress appropriately, and you’re good to go. Believe me, once you get moving, you’ll be comfortable and warm.

Fluffy is ready with her fur coat, but you can give her extra protection with a coat and booties. Here are some tips to ensure you’re both ready to romp in the white stuff.


Layer, layer, layer: long johns, long sleeved shirt and pants, and a coat. Pockets of air will do the rest by trapping body heat.

For clothing, take some hints from ski/snowboarding clothes. Go with synthetic fibers for breathability and wicking moisture (i.e., sweat) from your body. Avoid cotton. Cotton holds moisture and stays wet. Don’t wear blue jeans; once they get wet, they stay wet.

Gloves or Mittens

Gloves allow more finger flexibility, nice when strapping on the snow shoes. Mittens are warmer because they trap body heat inside.


Take along a warm fitted hat that covers your ears. On a warmer day, a headband covering your ears will be adequate.


Snowshoeing in Bryce Canyon, copyright Chante McCoyUnless you’re trekking on a popular snow-packed trail (where traction devices are sufficient), you’ll want snowshoes. Lightweight aluminum, narrow frames allow you to walk almost normally. Adjustable straps let you use boots or less bulky shoes. Spring-loaded suspension and crampons on the bottom with their springy prongs provide for traction and lift off.

Snowshoes are designed differently for the sexes (i.e., more tapered for women to accommodate their stride) and for different weight loads. When first snowshoeing, rent a pair before investing. Snowshoes generally run $100 and up.

Traction Devices

Traction devices wrap around the bottom of your shoes, providing steel grips that press into snow or ice for added traction. Traction devices are useful for packed snow or intermittent patches of snow and slush. I use “Yak Trak” which are made of springy rubber with wound steel coils. There are other brands/variations.


Feet easily get cold. And wet. While you can get away with tennis shoes for a short excursion, I highly recommend insulated, waterproof boots that are at least ankle high.


If you don’t have ski pants, get leg gaiters. Gaiters connect to your boots and provide overlapping waterproof protection up to your knees.

Dog Booties

Dog booties, copyright Chante McCoyWhen traipsing in the snow with Fluffy, consider getting her a set of booties. Think Iditarod. Booties for sled dogs are required equipment on account of ice, hard packed snow, and sharp rocks. Your dog will be subjected to the same, cutting her pads and making them bleed.

Look for waterproof booties with flexible rubber soles with tread patterns for traction. Some come with gaiters (“sleeves” which cover the lower leg) for added insulation and protection against the cold. Read reviews so you can buy with confidence.

Be sure to size the booties for best fit. Sizing depends on the manufacturer. Some base it on the width of the paw. Others on the length, from the front edge of the small pads to the back edge of the large pad. So, if ordering online, be sure to check out their sizing guidelines. If possible, I recommend trying on booties at a store for a good fit.

Coat or Sweater

For a short-haired dog, consider covering her with an outer layer to protect against the cold and wet. Take her to a couple of pet stores and outdoor recreation outfitters and try on coats before investing. You’ll want something comfortable, snug, and easy to put on.

Published in Pets in the City Magazine, March 2013 (


Short List of Dog Hiking Supplies March 27, 2013

Filed under: Dog-Friendly Trails — Chanté McCoy @ 3:11 am
Tags: ,

When heading out for a hike with your dog, don’t forget her supplies. Here are some ideas for dog hiking items, from a previously printed article.



If hiking less than four hours, take one to two water bottles for your dog. Offer water to her every half hour. She’s working hard too. Don’t risk dehydration and heat stroke.

For longer hikes, take more. Jan Holley, a handler with Rocky Mountain Rescue Dogs (a canine search and rescue organization in northern Utah), recommends adding flavored electrolyte powders to the water. “Hydration is a major concern, especially in the summer months.”

Water Bowl

Take along a collapsible cloth bowl for dispensing the water. Be sure to wash and dry it when you return home.


Trails usually require leashes. If trail policy allows for off -leash dogs, still take one. You’ll need a leash at the trailhead because of traffic.

If you don’t entirely trust your dog around people or other dogs, keep her on a leash at all times. A leash lets you pull her aside should you encounter a rattlesnake, horses, or mountain bikers whipping around blind corners. A leash also prevents your dog from wandering into the brush, picking up the oils from poison ivy. Plus you want to minimize her exposure to ticks and wild animals.

Doggie Treats

Always, right? Your dog will tell you the same thing.

Plastic Bags

For doggie clean-up, take a couple plastic bags. Recycle grocery bags for this purpose. Most trails stipulate clean-up. If not, it’s still good policy (and considerate of other trail users) to do so.

First Aid Kit

Take some first aid essentials, just in case. Ready-made dog kits are available, or embellish a “human” kit with items recommended by your veterinarian.

Doggie Backpack

If your dog is Beagle sized or bigger, consider having her carry her own water and treats. Outfit her with a well-constructed, comfortably snug doggie backpack. Take her to pet stores and outdoor recreation outfitters to try on packs before investing.

Dog Booties

If hiking in the snow, purchase a set of booties for your dog. Think Iditarod. Booties for sled dogs are required on account of ice, hard packed snow, and sharp rocks. Your dog will be subjected to the same, cutting her pads and making them bleed.

“Booties are also critical in hot, sandy areas,” says Holley.

Look for waterproof booties with flexible rubber soles with tread patterns for traction. Size them right for a comfortable fit. Booties can be used year round, and you may want them for neighborhood walks on account of salt, ice melt, glass, and hot pavement in summer.

Dog Fancy~Sept2011


“Head Out for a Hike” appeared in the September 2011 issue of Dog Fancy.


Dog Friendly Trails February 10, 2013

City Overlook

At the top of City Overlook trail

If you have a dog, take him along. You know he wants to go.On “dog friendly” trails, I love to take my hiking buddy, Elvis, a natural-eared Doberman. I enjoy his companionship and clownish antics. Meanwhile, hiking exercises the 110-lb canine in a way that the neighborhood jaunt never can.

Being in Utah, a desert “where God don’t give water free,” most mountain canyons are closed to dogs to protect watersheds. The national parks also ban dogs on hiking trails. State parks are friendlier, with the exception of Deer Creek State Park and the Rock Cliff area at Jordanelle.

Leash laws vary. State parks require leashes at all times. Millcreek, one of the few dog-friendly canyons along the Wasatch Front, alternates days on leash requirements: leashes “off” on odd days, leashes “on” on even days.

City Overlook trail

City Overlook trail

Protocol for cleaning up after your dog involves carrying plastic bags (such as one from a grocery store), scooping up the offending matter, and tying off the bag to deposit in a trash receptacle. Some hikers, if returning along the same route, leave their baggies by the trail side to be retrieved later. If you do so, please remember the bag. We need to keep complaints from other trail users to a minimum, so we can continue to take our dogs along on the few trails open to them.On a side note, fleas and ticks are practically a non-issue in Utah. The dry weather and high altitude are less than ideal conditions for fleas. The ticks—which I’ve yet to encounter—apparently aren’t infected with Lyme disease. Lucky us!

If you’re looking for trails that both you and your dog can enjoy, check out:

  • Burch Hollow
  • City Overlook (via Desolation Trail)
  • City Overlook (via Rattlesnake Gulch and Pipeline Trails)
  • Dog Lake (via Big Water Trail)
  • Elbow Fork to Lamb’s Canyon
  • Elbow Fork to Mt. Aire
  • Grandeur Peak (via Church Fork)
  • Mt. Olympus
  • Neff’s Canyon
  • Pipeline
  • Scout Falls

(more links to come…)