Icebox Canyon Loop
Art Nord Trailhead
Welcome to the trail!
We’re back at the ever-lovely Art Nord Trailhead today with a little bit longer loop for your adventurous tykes (just like I promised). This one takes you down Wheeler Canyon, left into Icebox Canyon (its name is totally relevant, especially in these scorching late-summer days!) and then two options back to the parking lot (either Old Snowbasin Road or the trail). Let’s hike the Icebox Canyon Loop!
How to get there
From Valley Market in Eden, head south on Highway 158 toward Ogden Canyon. After you cross the dam, turn left onto Highway 39. Drive for 2.8 miles, then turn right on Old Snowbasin Road. Follow the road about 4 miles till it ends at a gate and a parking lot. (If you’re coming from Huntsville, it’s quicker to head south then west on Highway 39 until you come to Old Snowbasin Road, about a mile past the turn for Trapper’s Loop, then turn left and follow it up to the trailhead.) Two vault toilets are available in the large dirt parking area.
Trail at a glance
Distance: 2.9 miles round trip (loop)
Elevation gain: 360 feet
Destination: since it’s a loop, you’ll end up where you started, but highlights include walking next to a stream in a cool, shady canyon and fantastic Snowbasin views at the high point in your climb
Tyke perks: informational sign, rocks, bridges, creek, shade, snakegrass, thimbleberries (there were a few ripe ones to be found!), view, bench, dried animal prints in trail (horse shoe, moose)
Notable flora: sagebrush, salsify, woad, curly dock, geraniums, yellow sweet clover, lupine, mules ear, aspen, aster, oak, fireweed, fir, snakegrass, thimbleberries, maple, milkweed, sunflower
Fascinating fauna: bees, butterflies, moose (there are always prints on the trail, but I’ve still never spotted one!), grasshoppers, dragonflies, squirrels
Watch out for: sun, bikes (you’ll probably see both mountain bikes on the trail section and road bikes on the road section), evening photo shoots (it’s a crazy popular place for family/bridal/graduation photos at golden hour), mosquitoes (they like the cool, wet Icebox Canyon stretch)
While you’re hiking
Start by walking toward the north end of the parking lot toward the big trailhead sign. A small wooden sign points right toward Wheeler Canyon Trailhead and left for the Wheeler Creek Trail. Take the upper road/trail to the right/straight as it heads gradually down into Wheeler Canyon. (Note: You can go either direction for this hike, and we have done both this year, but I like this counterclockwise loop best for tykes because you start out walking slightly downhill in the sunniest section, then go up through the shade in Icebox, and back down when it is sunny again.)
About 0.2 miles into your walk down the old Art Nord Drive, you’ll spot a large rock monument with a plaque about Art Nord himself nestled under a large tree in a wide spot off the left of the trail. As you continue on toward Wheeler Canyon, the slopes on either side of the trail get steeper. There are lots of fallen rocks on the right that are perfect for cairn stacking. On your left it drops deep into the East Fork of Wheeler Creek, so if you have little ones, you’ll want to keep them from the edge. Luckily the trail is wide through here so if you encounter any other hikers or bikers, there is plenty of room for passing.
When you start to curve slightly right into Wheeler Canyon at mile 0.8ish, watch for a (broken) sign at a junction. The wide trail turns right and will take you to the Wheeler Canyon Trailhead (which will be coming to a Tyke Hikes newsletter near you . . . eventually), but you want to take the skinnier trail that makes a hard left/downward turn into Icebox Canyon. You’ll see the first bridge below you; head for that.
Now you’re entering the highlight of this route: the icy cold Icebox Canyon stretch is one of my favorites! I love it for many reasons, but the shade is definitely at the top of the list; also, proximity to the creek, with plenty of chances to get down next to the water to play, plus the fact that it is the least crowded (peoplewise) leg of the loop. (Note: You’ll probably still pass somebody hiking or biking, so be especially aware here since the trail is narrow and steep in some places and the noise of the creek makes it harder to hear oncoming bikers.)
Take your time to enjoy the water as you continue climbing up through Icebox Canyon. After 0.4 miles along the creek, you’ll cross another bridge and find yourself on the left side of the canyon, with a few switchbacks and rocky slopes to maneuver as you work your way back up out of Icebox. (Stick to the main trail through here, rather than follow the many smaller forks that head down to the river.)
When you reach the top at mile 1.7, you’ll come to another trail junction. A small wooden sign will point you left and down on your journey back to the trailhead. You’ll cross a couple more bridges before you start climbing again (don’t worry, it won’t last too long!) toward the bench with the Snowbasin view (that was the destination of our Mini Loop hike a few weeks ago).
From the big trail map sign and bench at mile ~2.1, you can either follow the (closed to vehicles) Old Snowbasin Road about a half mile back to the parking area, or you can stick to the trail and work your way down that way (this option is slightly longer at 0.8 miles and does have one last uphill tenth of a mile at the end, but there is another bridge to cross if that is a selling point for your tyke). Ta-da! You’ve finished the Icebox Canyon Loop! I hope you loved it! Let me know your favorite part in the comments or by replying to this email. Happy trails!