Dog Lake via Big Water and Little Water Loop

MODERATE 95 reviews

Dog Lake via Big Water and Little Water Loop is a 4.4 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Salt Lake City, Utah that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, nature trips, horses, and mountain biking and is best used from July until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

4.4 miles
1,263 feet

dogs on leash


horseback riding

mountain biking

nature trips





wild flowers




From November 1st to July 1st the summer road of Millcreek Canyon is snow-covered and closed to vehicle traffic. During these months just getting to the trailhead is a 5 mile trek. Dogs are allowed off-leash in all of Mill Creek Canyon on odd numbered days. Big Water Trail (3.0 miles) The Big Water trail may be longer than its sister trail Little Water Gulch, but Big Water is no where near as steep. Perhaps Millcreek Canyon's most popular trailhead is the Big Water Trailhead. Located at the end of the narrow summer road (approx 9 miles from the base of the canyon) is the main parking lot. This large trailhead has several overflow parking lots available but even they can and do fill up on weekends. From the upper most parking lot starts the 2 main trails, which are the Little Water Gulch and Big Water Gulch trails. These 2 trails provide access to Dog Lake, Little Water Peak, Reynolds Peak, The Desolation Trail as well as Upper Millcreek Canyon. For mountain bikers the extra distance is worth the lack of climbing over the steps of Little Water Trail. This trail tends to traverse its way across Big Water Trail as it slowly makes its approach up to Dog Lake. The large pine trees and thick forest growth that line the trail keep the summer sun and heat at bay, making this trail perfect for the dead of summer.

3 months ago

I love this hike. FYI, Winter gate is already up for the season (they closed it before Nov. 1 this year). If you want to do this one from the starting point shown here, you'll need to road walk 4.5 miles to get to the trailhead after parking at the picnic area in front of the Winter gate, yikes. Or you could get to the lake via Big Cottonwood, but no dogs allowed on that side.

4 months ago

Great hike, the lake is a little disappointing but the views throughout make up for it. Take the west trail up for a more gradual climb

Great loop with the dog. Dogs allowed off-leash on odd numbered dates (mountain bikers allowed, and dogs on leash even numbered dates)

I like to take Little Water up and Big Water down. It's a good, quick day hike. I start midmorning, eat lunch at the lake, then hike back out.

5 months ago

Very busy from Thursday to Sunday with zero trailer parking. Not worth the 20 mile round trip drive to find out the parking lot is full.

7 months ago

Gorgeous trail, and one I would definitely do again. The wildflowers are coming out right now, making it an especially good time to go. FYI: I would rate this trail as "highly trafficked." My husband felt like we were on a highway. We backpacked in and then camped at the top, and people were at the lake until the dark was settling in and again the next morning by 7 a.m. Not the place to go for solitude.

7 months ago

Nice shaded hike to beat the heat but knocked a star bc that lake was so damn ugly

7 months ago

Beautiful hike with lots of shade. If you hike on an even day there are lots of mountain bikes. Go early on the weekend because parking fills quickly. By 10 AM they were ticketing folks who parked illegally.

7 months ago

We hiked this trail this morning and it was great. We were surprised at how continuous the incline was but other than that it was great. My dog had a great time, the wildflowers were in bloom and there weren't many people or dogs at the lake.

8 months ago

slow jog from the winter gate--->Little Water trailhead--->200yds from Little Water peak@sunset, so I had to turn around before I got to cold (tank-top+T-shirt). It was a unplanned hike but beautiful as nature provides. I'm planning on backpacking.

8 months ago

I didn’t realize the last 5 miles of the road were closed until 7/1. Instead of a hike I took a 2 mile stroll up the canyon and then back to the car.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

I entered it from the big cottonwood side (12-8-17), 6 miles round trip. It was so peaceful, snowy, but manageable without snow shoes. the lake is covered with snow and a moderate hike overall. go for the quiet.

trail running
Sunday, August 20, 2017

Probably my favorite Wasatch trail - you can do this portion just up to Dog Lake, or go on from there to Desolation Lake - that's what I just did (this is part of the Wasatch 100 Mile Endurance Run that I did several times in the early 90's). Good trail, runnable in many sections, beautiful vistas of the Wasatch ranges separating Big Cottonwood Canyon and Little Cottonwood Canyon on the newly cut trail from Dog Lake to Desolation (take the left fork just out of Dog Lake - bypassing the dive down to the Mill D trail and the climb back up again). Incredible wildflowers. A stellar afternoon.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The map shows a trail running off the Great Western and there is no such trail. You need to go to Dog Lake and go up from there.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Beautiful views, shaded areas, path not too rocky. Dog Lake, at the end of the trail, is pretty big. My dog and I really enjoyed it.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Excellent hike, my dachshund loved this one. It's not a crazy elevation gain and I'd rate it easy. Beautiful lake to see at the end, I'd like to hike it from Big Cottonwood Canyon side now!

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Easy hike with great views.

Monday, October 03, 2016

Loved it! Wouldn't rate it hard at all. Beautiful in the fall

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Went up little water trail, it wasn't as hard as some of the other hikes we've done, but it was a continuously uphill hike. On the way down we took the path of big water trail which ends up in the same parking lot as little. Much easier but a little longer trail but still good! Not too many other hikers because it was a weekday. No bugs which was nice, brought bug spray just in case. The tree's are dropping huge amounts of yellow leaves so it was very pretty,

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Only one star because there is another listing for the Little Water Trail. Don't get me wrong, it's a great trail. Just see the other listing.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

This is a lovely trail but entirely redundant with the Big Water, Little water, and Dog Lake trails listed on the site. The attached track goes up the Big Water Trail (mostly) and down the Little Water trail (mostly).

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

To be fair, I haven't hiked the whole Little Water Trail. However, I have hiked (essentially) the whole trail shown on this map. This goes up via the little water trail to the Great Western Trail (GWT) then show a non-existent trail (as of fall 2016) up Little Water Peak. I crisscrossed this path multiple times, and can tell you that the trail up to little water peak does not exist. However, the actual little water trail continues up from the junction on this map and crosses the big water trail to reach Dog Lake (If you want to reach Little Water Peak, follow game trails from the junction just above Dog Lake. They are worn enough that if you just continue uphill you'll get there. Come down the same way unless you like bushwhacking.)
All the above aside, the lower half of Little Water is lovely, not too steep (although steeper than Big Water), and I believe that the upper half (not shown on the track) is similar.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Great hike for dogs.

trail running
Tuesday, August 30, 2016

beautiful, some sections a little steeper, mostly shaded throughout.

Friday, August 12, 2016

LOVE LOVE LOVE! I do my hikes on weekdays to avoid crowds, so I found serenity almost the entire trail. The scenery is like a fairytale! Wildflowers, meadows, bubbling streams... just perfect. It is steep, but there are flat parts for you to catch your breath. The lake at the end was warm enough to swim in. Overall I feel in love with this trail. My pup also loved it!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

7.20.2016 | 6:00-8:00PM Round Trip
Must Have: Bug Repellent

First time and was disappointed. It's a good short workout but there were SO MANY FLIES. Maybe I just went at bug o'clock, maybe it's being near the water, maybe this is their kingdom due to high traffic and dogs/dog poop, but regardless of dousing myself in bug spray I couldn't get away from them. They'd repeatedly fly into my face and I felt like I should've just windmilled my arms the whole time to get some peace!

There was rarely a breeze and the lake was COATED with mosquitoes so I didn't let my GSD swim as planned. Going down wasn't as buggy and I picked up multiple abandoned poop bags and old piles to pack out and throw away. I'll give this trail a second chance at some point but it certainly didn't leave a good first impression.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Good hike, encountered a few people on the trail but didn't feel crowded. Easy hike

Sunday, July 10, 2016

It was pretty steep, so I would not recommend it for a starter trail, but it was really pretty and we saw some moose.

Friday, September 25, 2015

The aspens are changing colors and look absolutely stunning. I had a great time on this hike last weekend :)

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Good trail. People need to pack out the dog poop if they bring their dogs. Trail was littered with plastic bags full of poop. Scenery good. Would rather of biked it and prefer less dogs. Will gladly do it again

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