Mill Creek was the first stream in Salt Lake Valley used for milling purposes. Pioneers harnessed its power to drive lumber, flour and sugar mills. At one point there were 20 mills, mostly lumber, next to its banks.
Today, the Mill Creek drainage is a popular, four-seasons recreational destination. The canyon offers more U.S. Forest Service picnic grounds than any other in Salt Lake Valley. Dogs are allowed in the canyon, unlike some others. Due to damage from popular use, however, the U.S. Forest Service and Salt Lake County have entered into an agreement to collect a fee to be earmarked for facilities repair and environmental improvement.
There are a score of cabins in the canyon with in-holder rights. There are two restaurants and a popular Scout camp: Tracy Wigwam. Otherwise, there is little commercial development. Bowman Fork and Church Fork are the two major tributaries entering Mill Creek. Currently, stream water is used for irrigation and not for culinary purposes. But the Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities has a draft plan for a 6 million-gallon-per-day water treatment plant.