The Donner-Reed Party, the 1847 Brigham Young company, Mormon handcart emigrants, stagecoaches and freight wagons, the US Army, and the Pony Express all went this way. Wagon swales and deeply eroded ruts still mark their passage.
The Donner-Reed Party camped for four nights near beaver ponds about 1.5 miles up Little Emigration Canyon while clearing the trail up to Big Mountain Pass.
The 4.5-mile sustained climb from Mormon Flat to Big Mountain Pass takes 2.5 to 5 hours to hike and can be strenuous for those unaccustomed to high altitude. The trail starts at about 6,100 feet in elevation and ends at 7,420 feet, a gain of more than 1,300 feet. Total slope is about a 5.5% grade, but the last half-mile is roughly 12.7% grade.