Little Cottonwood Canyon Bike Climb - PJAMM Cycling






Little Cottonwood Canyon

UT, USA

Hey - it's not that "Little"

Page Contributor(s): Bruce Hamilton, La Quinta, CA, USA; Stacy Topping, Tacoma, WA, USA

Explore this Climb

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Finish

Climb Summary


Avalanche sign on Little Cottonwood Canyon, Sandy, Utah

Cycling Utah’s Little Cottonwood Canyon -- #30 US Bike Climb.

Ride 10.5 miles gaining 4,020’ to 9,380’ at 7.2% average grade. 

Biking or skiing, there aren’t many spots better than the Little Cottonwood Canyon bike climb in Utah.  During the winter, two of the premiere ski resorts in the country, Alta and Snowbird, are accessed via Little Cottonwood Canyon. 

Beginning of climb by bike up Little Cottonwood Canyon - street signs

The climb begins southeast of Salt Lake City on Highway 210.

Ski run sign at the finish of the Little Cottonwood Canyon bicycle ride.

Our climb is in the Wasatch National Forest (1906; 86,440 acres)

   Cyclist with bike at top of Little Cottonwood Canyon climb by bike.

The bike climb ends at the top of Alta’s Sunnyside ski lift.

During the spring and summer, this is a favorite climb for cyclists who live in, or travel to, the Salt Lake City area.  One of the great advantages for climbers in this part of the country is quick access to four high-quality ascents within 20 miles of one another (Little Cottonwood, US #15 Guardsman, #39 Big Cottonwood, and #47 Empire Pass from Midway, or unrated Empire climb from Park City) and only 24 miles from Salt Lake City International Airport.  We flew in from Northern California on a weekday morning and flew out the next evening and were able to get Powder, Guardsman, Big and Little Cottonwood and Empire in during that two-day, one-night trip.  

Cyclist with bike at top of Little Cottonwood Canyon climb by bike.

Cyclist with bike at top of Little Cottonwood Canyon climb by bike.

Cyclist with bike at top of Little Cottonwood Canyon climb by bike.

Snowbird Ski Resort at mile 6.5

Cyclist with bike at top of Little Cottonwood Canyon climb by bike.

You can finish the climb at Alta Ski Resort (8.3 miles, 3,300' gained at 7.6% average grade, FIETS index of 9.29) . . .

Ski run sign at the finish of the Little Cottonwood Canyon bicycle ride.

Ski run sign at the finish of the Little Cottonwood Canyon bicycle ride.

Alta Ski Resort parking lot at mile 8.3.

. . . or take it to the top (another 1.9 miles at 5.9%)!  Continue through the Alta parking lot to Albion Basin Road where the road soon turns to gravel (manageable on a road bike -- we used 28mm tires) for the last couple miles at a 5.6% average grade, ending near the top of Alta's Sunnyside ski lift.

Ski run sign at the finish of the Little Cottonwood Canyon bicycle ride.

1.9 more to go . . .

Ski run sign at the finish of the Little Cottonwood Canyon bicycle ride.

Bruce and Stacy at the gate - May 2019.

Ski run sign at the finish of the Little Cottonwood Canyon bicycle ride.

 The End.

The Little Cottonwood Canyon bike climb is “Little” because it is shorter and narrower than Big Cottonwood Canyon, which is four miles to the north.  However, the two are equals in regards to surroundings and raw beauty.  

​​Roadway and Traffic Report:  As you can readily see from our videos, the first six miles of this climb is a highway and cars do zip by at a good clip, although there is a very good shoulder/bike lane for most of the climb.  Miles 6-8 are past Snowbird and Alta and the final two miles are on a rough paved and then hard packed dirt/gravel road at 5.6% which is rideable on a road bike without difficulty.

Steepest ¼ miles begins at mile 3.6 (11.7%) and steepest mile at mile 3 (9.9%).