where, when, and what to find

Little Willow Canyon

posted by Tim Avery at
on Thursday, March 12, 2015 

Little Willow Canyon from Google Street View

The trail up leads through shrubsteppe and mixed oak woodland at Hidden Valley Park, before you hit the narrow rocky crags and cliffs at the mouth of the canyon.  Here the trail climbs through the oak into a riparian habitat along the creek which only has water in it during the runoff and following storms.  The habitat is very thick and quickly moves into mixed conifer and riparian in between the cliffs.  You don't need to go very far to find birds here.  There are often rock climbers in the canyon, and they make lots of noise, so beware of this on weekends.  I'm not sure how far up canyon you can travel before running out of trail or it becomes impassable, but will add details as I learn more.

I have only been here a couple times, and there is one other eBird checklist with information about the birds here.  I suspect it's very similar to Big Willow Canyon to the norht, and any other canyon along the front with similar habitat.  This location is primarily going to be visited in the late spring, summer, and fall--although some interesting things might be around in the winter.  I would imagine NORTHERN PGYMY-OWL can probably be tracked down here, and flocks of ROSY-FINCHES probably use the bench here.  Year round residents include the usually WESTERN-SCRUB JAYS, BLACK-BILLED MAGPIE, and CALIFORNIA QUAIL in the lower stretches of the trail.  PINE SISKIN, STELLER'S JAY, and MOUNTAIN CHICKADEE can be found in the higher reaches.  Near the rocky slopes at the canyon mouth listen for CANYON WREN singing.  During the breeding season there haven't been any checklists submitted yet, but the varied habitats likely attract a variety of species you would see in other canyons nearby.  I will add more details about the birding here in the summer when I have been back and can speak to it.  One thing I have thought every time I've been here is that this is probably a great point to hawk watch from.  Either below the canyon at Hidden Valley Park--or where the gate blocks the trail to the watershed.  I have seen TURKEY VULTURE, GOLDEN EAGLE, RED-TAILED HAWK, SHARP-SHINNED and COOPER'S HAWKS in just a couple visits.  I'll update this with more information as I learn more about the area.

From the north taking Wasatch Blvd from I-215 at 6200 South head south past both Cottonwood Canyons.  At 9800 South continue straight another 3.5 miles till you arrive at the park on your left. Pull in to the lot and keep right to go to the parking area for the park.  From the south follow 12300 South in Draper east as it loops north and becomes Draper Parkway just past 1300 East. Eventually turning into 1700 east, take a right on to Wasatch Blvd at about 11700 south.  Follow the road east 1.7 miles till you reach the park on your right.  From the parking lot follow the paved trail southeast passed the first turnoff to the Bonneville Shoreline Trail.  At the 2nd turnoff on your left follow the dirt trail up the hillside until it goes around the bend into the mouth of the canyon.  Here the trail splits and the Bonneville Shoreline Trail goes to the right across the river--the trail up the canyon is straight ahead.

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