Head up Weber Canyon past Morgan and on to Henefer. Exit 115 at Henefer.
Turn left across the freeway, then right onto the Echo Road also known as old Hwy 30.
Follow it as it curves to the right to the little burg of Echo.
Stop at the Stop sign. Stay on hwy 30 as it curves around the mountain and go on up Echo Canyon on the frontage road.
There are many markers along this road telling about history or formations.
Drive 3.6 miles from Echo to a large marker and read about the formation looming above us.
A high cliff where rocks were carefully stacked along the cliff's edge at the top remain where they were placed to form a breastwork for the Mormon Militia.
They were both shelter for the Militia and intimidation for the Army as the Johnson's Army made its way past them toward the Salt Lake Valley.
We turned our wagon around at this point and then stopped to read each historical marker we passed as we made our way down the canyon.
(There are more markers if you head even further up the canyon.)
The natural formations and historical ones make this canyon incredible.
Give a shout at the mountain and listen for your own echo! Don’t rush this part of your trip. There is so much to see.
Around the corner sits the township of Echo. It has an amazing history. Look for the tiny church that sits at the end of the lane close to the rock cliffs.
It is shared by churches of many denominations and has also been a school.
It is a quaint little building and appears to be well protected by its neighbors who keep an eye on all visitors.
Wave and make friends with our Echo neighbors!
Back toward Henefer just after Echo, up on the steep hillside you will see the red and yellow spires of the formation called the cathedral or temple rock formation.
Read the new marker there. You may even want to hike up to it on the new trail. Watch for ground creatures that inhabit the area.
This formation drew the apostles up to it for a sacred prayer meeting on behalf of Brigham Young who was very ill with Rocky Mountain Fever caused by a tick bite.
A short way further west is a similar formation called the Witches. It, too, has a new descriptive marker and a hiking opportunity for those who are interested.
Drive back to the Henefer freeway exit, cross over the freeway and the Weber River. Imagine the river with no freeway and you needing to cross it.
Sheriff Rodney Badger drowned while assisting pioneers to cross this river. He had been one of the original pioneers.
As you proceed through the little town of Henefer you are on Highway 65.
The daughters of the Utah Pioneers have a fine museum there by the old church building.
Travel four or five blocks west and find the south turn that Highway 65 makes. Look for the highway sign.
After making the turn travel about two blocks south to the Henefer park and rodeo grounds, and a nice picnic area with more historic markers.
This valley was a good rest area with good grass, good water and flat ground.
Continue on along Highway 65 south. The highway parallels the trail the Pioneers followed as they sought out the easiest route.
A curve in the road has another marker. This was a pony express station called Spring Creek Station.
The road gets steeper as we approach the Summit-Morgan County line.
The trail becomes rocky and its steepness made the pioneers consider it the Martin Cove of Utah.
At this point the trail leaves the highway and makes a strong right turn west up onto the bench for several hundred yards.
Then it turns south again and goes down the hill into the bottom of East Canyon going down where the present boat ramp is located.
(No dam or reservoir was there of course)
Here the pioneers made a huge fire burning dead cottonwood trees to create charcoal.
The pioneer blacksmith used it to heat his forge so broken wagons could be repaired. But from there to the south they saw a disheartening sight.
Great tree covered mountains blocked their way which would have to be crossed before they could enter the Valley of the Great Salt Lake.
Their trail stayed in the bottom of the valley because of steep side hills.
The stream wound back and forth and had to be crossed many times making another miserable time for them. William Clayton said “The trail is awful!”
He described the twenty foot willows as being entangled with bushes and trees and ripping the canvas wagon covers.
If they cut down the willows the little stumps became exposed in the mud and became spears to their animals hooves.
But back in our air conditioned cars we can take a quick detour turning west off hwy 65 onto hwy 66 at the bottom of the steep grade to get to the area where they camped. Turn to the right and loop up and around to the East Canyon State Park entrance, (dont go in)There is a marker just before you get to the ranger booth.
It shows a painting by JoAnne Corpany to help you understand what east canyon might have looked like when the pioneers rode or hiked down into East canyon. Then turn your wagon around and head back east, retracing your steps to Highway 65. (Dixie Hollow) This time turn to the right to go on around the reservoir.
Travel south on Hwy 65 along East Canyon Reservoir shoreline. There are some pit toilets at turn outs in this area. (Just in case).
At the south end of the reservoir is East Canyon Resort. It is privately owned.
As you go on past the Resort Campgrounds, slow down and start looking to the left for the Jeremy Ranch Road turn off.
It is a dirt road that takes off to the left just before the paved highway begins to turn right and climbs.
Jeremy Ranch Road is not paved and also has no cell phone service. Just after you turn onto the dirt road watch to the left, A beautiful little log cabin is there.
It is a replica of the Pony Express station that was once there.
Follow the dirt road for just over three miles. Watch for livestock and wild life- deer, elk, moose, badger and more have been spotted there and a even a wolverine. If you follow it all the way across, Jeremy Ranch Road continues south and comes out in the bottom of Jeremy Ranch Golf Course. From there you can work your way through to interstate 80 near Parley's Summit.)
For our trip we travel on the somewhat bouncy dirt road for just over three miles. Then we arrive at Mormon Flat state park camp ground, at “Big Spring.” Just a little further down the road is "Mormon Flat" Look over the area and decide where you would camp. Thanks to the State Parks service, there are rest rooms here, but no running water, so remember your hand sanitizer or you may need to go wash up in the stream.
Once they had rested their teams the pioneers set out for the roughest part of their 1200 mile trek, up Big Mountain.
It is a near five mile climb so steep they had to double team their wagons to make it to the top. From the top there is a small view of Salt Lake Valley.
Then the breath taking plunge down the other side and on to Emigration Canyon and into the valley.
Courage and Endurance are not big enough words to describe the incredible people who made the trek to the Salt Lake Valley on this path.
From 1846 (Donnor Party) to 1869 this was the path they took until the Transcontinental railway came through Utah.
Some 80,000 people crossed this trail during that time including the 49ers on their way to California.
This trail is hike able from Mormon Flat to the top of Big Mountain, but definitely only for the very determined. Many start at the top and hike down to Big Spring.
We chose to make the trek up the mountain in our automobile instead. Back in our gas powered wagon we retrace our steps back north on the dirt road to paved highway 65. Turn left and head up the beautiful winding drive to the top of Big Mountain.(ten minutes or so) and park on the left side of the road at the top of the pass to see the same view the pioneers saw. I can’t even imagine their emotions. (You may be relieved to know that there are also restrooms available at this stop.)
You can continue on the trail if you would like. Drive on down the steep mountain until you get to Little Dell Reservoir then make a quick turn right at the marked intersection to Emigration Canyon. Up another steep hill and down into Emigration canyon. To the right is This is the Place monument and north behind it is the This is the Place State Park, dedicated to the Pioneers. Both are great to visit when you have a full day to spend there. Though there is some construction in the monument area you can work your way around it.
Please let us know how it was for you and your family. Post photos.
If you had ancestors who trekked the trail, who were they? What was your trek like?