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Take a Hike…from the U’s own backyard

The following article appears in the July 2010 issue of The Rambler, official publication of the Wasatch Mountain Club. The WMC Purpose is “to unite the energy, interests and knowledge of students, explorers and lovers of the mountains, deserts and rivers of Utah…” read more about WMC, their activities and how to join here: And for more about one great hike that begins at the loveliest back door of any university campus (, read on…..

photo: V. Dowell

Red Butte is a steep foothill just behind the University of Utah campus, located near Red Butte Canyon and the Red Butte Botanical Gardens. There are several ways to hike it, but the closest to the city (and the University of Utah campus) is from the end of Wakara Way. It looks innocent enough from the trailhead, but it rises over 1,500 feet in just over a mile, and has about 3 or 4 false summits.

Red Butte is an excellent short hike to do while in Salt Lake City or while visiting the University of Utah.

The hike itself is a maze of trails at the bottom, and steep hiking to light scrambling once up on the summit ridge. The mountain is very steep, with nearly vertical gullies coming down from the numerous summits. Hiking require lots of water, and a couple of hours to spare. The views of the top include Mount Wire and other surrounding foothills. You can see several major Wasatch peaks along the way. However, the most fantastic view are those of the University and of downtown Salt Lake City, more than 1500 feet below. In the distance (towards the West) you can see the Great Salt Lake and the Oquirrh Mountains.

This is also a fantastic spot to view the glorious Western sunset.

Red Butte Gardens is the most well known feature near the mountain. It has 150 acres of gardens, hiking trails and walking paths. Red Butte is considered the largest botanical and ecological center in the Intermountain West that tests, displays and interprets regional horticulture. Visitors will find a 1,500-acre
arboretum housing 9,000 specimens of trees and shrubs from around the globe on the University of Utah campus. The nonprofit organization dates
back to 1931, with original plantings by the former Chairman of the university’s botany department, Dr. Walter P. Cottam.