Sunday, August 16, 2015

Exploring Mary Ellen Gulch

Given all the smoke that was around today, my son and I decided to explore some of the mining history in upper American Fork Canyon's Mary Ellen Gulch.  AF Canyon is a beautiful place and a huge canyon.  It's also hard to access via car unless you have an ORV, high-clearance vehicle, or huge heart–lung capacity.  I have none of these, so we elected to access it via the Snowbird tram.  It's remarkable how few people do this and we had all of upper Mary Ellen Gulch to ourselves and saw only a couple of ORV groups down near the mines.

The route is pretty easy to follow.  From the Snowbird Tram you just head out the Bookends Traverse until you hit Sunday Saddle, the pass to Mary Ellen Gulch.  Follow the various roads down wherever your whims take you.

Here's the view into Mary Ellen at the end of the Bookends Traverse.  Our objective was an area marked as "Globe Mines" on the USGS topo.  You can just make out a cabin in that area (just to the left of the word "Globe."

Mary Ellen Gulch is fairly nice, but the hiking is all on nasty ORV roads.

Looking down the gulch toward Miller Hill.

One of the mines.  The efforts people went through to mine in the Wasatch is really remarkable.  Some discussion of the various activities is available at the USFS web site.

This miners cabin is not very old compared to most, but has clearly been abandoned.  I wondered when it was last refurbished and used.  

One of the scarier outhouses I've seen.  Fortunately, it wasn't needed.

Dinner awaited us inside the cabin.

As well as 5-star lodging.

We did some exploring along an old Miner's trail.  

The view from the end of our explorations looking back through Sinner's Pass at Devil's Castle.  We weren't far from the south ridge from the AF Twin and I briefly entertained thoughts of bagging the summit, but my back had different ideas and we wisely turned around.  

Beware if you are thinking of doing this that Snowbird is charging $5/day for parking during Octoberfest via Entry #1, #2, and #4.  They didn't seem to be charging for parking further up the bypass road.  


  1. Is the Pittsburg lake in this area? I've heard rumors of small trout.

  2. Oh I wish I was there. You can actually see the cabin and outhouse on Google Earth! Amazing.

  3. Pittsburg Lake is the next canyon east of Mary Ellen Gulch

  4. Pittsburg Lake is in the next canyon east of Mary Ellen Gulch.