Backcountry skiing Neffs Canyon Mount Olympus Utah Memorial Couloirs

Backcountry skiing Neffs Canyon is a hidden gem of the Wasatch.  Tours in this area have stunning mountain views, hidden powder, and big mountain objectives.  The approaches are long and require time and fitness.   Neffs Canyon is not part of the Salt Lake watershed, meaning your furry friends can join you. 

Dog Friendly

If you want to take your dog with you into the mountains around SLC your options are limited.  Neffs Canyon and in neighboring Mill Creek canyon are two of your only other options.  I enjoyed bringing my Rottweiler to both for tours when I lived in Salt Lake valley.   

Story:  In the photo above if you look closely the man in front has a white full-sized poodle behind him.  It was a cold January day and we had already passed a poor golden retriever that had snow clumping on his fur weighing him down like a boat anchor.  My Rottweiler seemed to have an advantage on the golden as her fur kept her warm and didn't clump up with frozen snow.

Much further up the Neffs trail a party of 2 and their dog caught up with me and Kota.  Their dog was a full-sized poodle.  The dog seemed to be handling the cold temperatures just fine with its coat.  The snow was not sticking and clumping up on the fur-like on the Golden Retriever's was.  This dog also had a distinct advantage over my Rottweiler.  Rottweilers are built like bulldozers.  When Kota would follow my skin track she would mostly posthole.   She would then have to break her own trail with her chest.   It was a lot of work but the dog was strong and loved it!  When we encountered the poodle I noticed how it walked on top of the snow with much less effort than my Rottweiler.  In all the years that I skied with my Rottweiler Kota, I never encountered another dog that seemed to be better equipped for backcountry skiing than this full-size poodle.  So if you're considering getting a backcountry ski dog, I'd consider getting a poodle.

Access the Hidden Gem

Why is it a hidden gem, because accessing it isn't easy.

First, you have to find the trailhead.  It's hidden up top of Residential Neighborhoods.  Finding the trail isn't that difficult, but it isn't obvious either

Next, the approach is long and low having an elevation gain of 4,200 feet over 3.5 miles.  The approach starts at a low elevation.  Often times you will be hiking instead of skinning from the trailhead.  The approach is also long.  You have to climb a long way to get up into the elevations good for skiing.  The distance can also be a challenge.  

Backcountry Skiing Routes Neffs Canyon

Next, the approach is long and low.  The trail starts at a low elevation.  Often times there is no snow you will be hiking instead of skinning from the trailhead.  The approach is also long.  You have to travel a long way to get up into the elevations good for skiing.  That's why Neff's is a hidden gem, it wouldn't be a hidden gem if it weren't hidden.

This is a low angle tour plan.  The ski descents are all on north Aspect slopes.  The start is at the Neff's Canyon trailhead.  The tour includes 2 routes that climb 3,600ft each.

Backcountry skiing Neffs Canyon

Oh, mamma pie, what more could you want?  The scenery makes it all worth it no matter the approach.   There are 3 main drainages each accessing their own gems.

Norths Fork - Memorial Couloirs

Thomas Fork - Hobbs Chute

                        - Whipple Couloir

Neffs - Point 9,776

Start elevation = 5,600ft

Summit elevation = 9,200ft

Elevation gain = 3,600

Peaks =   Mount Olympus south summit
                 Mount Olympus east summit

Trailhead = Neff's Canyon

Objective powder skiing, Summit Olympus, and possible Couloir skiing. 

Recommended Links:

Whipple Couloir Backcountry Skiing

Chuting Project