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Two Winter Specific Trail Hazards in Salt Lake City

Northern Utah saw more snow in the month of December 2022 than we have in a long time, and the dogs have loved it as much as their humans have. Something about all of that soft powder turns many of us into children and puppies! With so many people out recreating on the trails this winter, there are a few things to watch out for so that your pup stays safe.

You may have heard about the avalanche at Neff’s Canyon in December which was triggered by a solo skier. Neff’s Canyon is a very dog-friendly canyon, so I was quite concerned when I first heard the news of an avalanche. Fortunately, the skier was the only one injured in the avalanche, and he was rescued and is recovering from a broken femur. The avalanche occurred in an area where hikers and dogs don’t usually go, but it is something to consider if you are one of the more adventurous hikers or skiers. Utah has already had a number of avalanches this year. Know how to avoid avalanches if you are venturing into back country and leave your dog at home instead of putting him into a risky situation.

Another hazard to be aware of at Neff’s Canyon is that many people enjoy sledding or sometimes skiing down the main trail. It’s a great time for sledders who can pick up quite a bit of speed on the long winding trail, but don't often have the control to slow down or make quick stops. Every year there are many dogs who get spooked by sleds zooming towards them, and they end up running off and getting lost. There’s also the risk of sledders getting bitten by the dogs they spook! I always avoid the main trail at Neff’s during snow season and hike through the trees instead so that my dogs don’t have negative interactions with sledders.

Be conscientious of the trails you are hiking on and all of the ways that others are using them as well. Many people aren’t aware of how their skis, snowboards and sleds may pose a danger to the dogs who also use those trails. Keep your dogs on safe trails this winter so that you can all enjoy Utah’s winter wonderland together!

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