From Ogden and the Weber County area to Logan and the Cache Valley County, these areas get our votes for the most underrated or “hidden gems” of Utah hiking. Mount Ogden (via Snowbasin Gondola), Malans Peak (via Taylor Canyon), and Waterfall Canyon are the highlights for manageable day hikes around Ogden.
Further north, some of the best hiking opportunities can be found in and around Bear Lake Valley including Limber Pine Trail, Sink Hollow, and Laketown Canyon Trail. Hike Steam Mill Hollow in Logan Canyon is a great choice for those people looking for a more demanding hiking experience.
Find some of the best views of the Great Salt Lake and Wasatch Front on Antelope Island. Just know when to go. From mid spring to early fall, a number of insects emerge, but the most fearsome of the bunch is undoubtedly the no-seeums, or biting gnats. Heavy use of bug spray can keep irritation to a minimum when hiking the trails. Here’s a handy FAQ list to prepare for a visit to the island. The island is bigger than you might think, spanning 20 miles long and a few miles wide, and you can easily spend 2 full days exploring the island’s trails and visiting the Fielding Garr Ranch.
On the mountainside, along the Wasatch Front, Adams Canyon, Farmington Creek Trail, and Kenny Creek Trail each offer a short day hike that is both beautiful and accessible to for Davis County residents.
Moab—and Arches and Canyonlands especially—is nothing short of an international destination for nature-seeking tourism. Reliably, you can hear a handful of different accents from around the world on the tours that run throughout the year. The key is to avoid the extreme heat of the mid-summer, or at least know what you’re getting yourself into. Further to the south, Mexican Hat is also just a hop, skip, and a jump from the Monuments Valley and tribal lands of northern Arizona.
Altogether, this stretch of land in Utah is well-known visually—at least subliminally—to most of the country and the world as the background and filming locations for many of the most famous movies ever made. Moab is also home to the locally famous microbrew of the same name.
As defined by falling to the west of Lake Powell, southwest Utah is largely known for the Grand Staircase—the other half in terms of the most iconic natural scenery and breathtaking backdrops on the planet. Simply put, the Staircase starts in Escalante, then it drops down to Bryce Canyon, and then to Zion National Park. Distinctive in their own right, the bottom layer of rock formation for Escalante is the top layer for Bryce Canyon, which itself ends at the top of Zion. It’s literally three different mini-worlds that are each worth a visit. And when you’re ready to leave our fair state of Utah, you can cap off your journey at the bottom step of the Grand Staircase—also known as the Grand Canyon.
Near Provo and Orem, you need to hit at least one of the hikes around Mount Timpanogos. This could be Stewart Falls, Big Springs Hollow, or Squaw Peak. It’s also something of a right of passage for locals to make the trek up Y Mountain on the south side of Utah Valley. For a more challenging hike, we recommend Provo River Parkway Trail—15 miles from Vivian Park to Utah Lake. Further to the south, a little ways out of Utah Valley, you can also find Pando, the Aspen Grove know for being the oldest living thing on Earth.
The only substantial east-to-west running mountains in North America, the Uinta Mountains offer some amazing hiking opportunities. Mirror Lake is just one of the major hotspots for camping and nearby hiking in the Uinta Mountains. The Provo River Waterfalls is also easily accessible through Mirror Lake Scenic Byway, as is Bald Mountain hiking trail. There are dozens of trails along this highway, the highest paved road on the west side of Rocky Mountain Range. One great tandem activity with hiking is fishing in the Uinta Mountains.
There is, however, a limited window of time to enjoy the best the Uintas have to offer. And we mean this in more one way. First, due to the higher altitude 10,000-13,000 feet and some of the higher precipitation levels in the entire state, the area is only reliably accessible by car from July to Sept, maybe an extra couple weeks each way if you have chains. In an entirely different sense, though, time is of the essence. Much of high Uinta Mountain forest is being consumed by an infestation of the Mountain Pine Beetle, which is part of the western bark beetle infestation affecting most of the western Unites States forests. The best methods involve preventive treatment and regenerative efforts. Once a tree has been infested by beetles, it’s more susceptible to all sorts of future hazards, especially ants.
City Creek, Red Butte, Emigration, Parley’s, Mill, Big Cottonwood, Little Cottonwood. Without a doubt, these seven canyons host the most popular hikes in all of Utah—at least in the sense that these trails are the most well-traveled by local Utahans. That’s because—from North Salt Lake down to Draper and over to Herriman—“that’s where all the people live.” More on this front, what makes these trails so special is that the people, policies, and infrastructure of the Wasatch Front allow some of these canyons to provide much of Salt Lake City’s drinking water as well as some of the best metro-area hiking—and climbing for that matter!—in the whole country.
The future feasibility of this multi-purpose land- and water-use depends on a range of factors some of which are under our control and some of which aren’t. To learn more about one of today’s key organizations seeking to protect, restore, and replenish the land, check out the Seven Canyons Trust.
That said, the future of these canyons and hiking trails is not a binary outcome of good and bad, and we can look to our recent past for lessons. Much of the timber resources in these mountains were depleted during the initial development of the Valley only to be replenished throughout the 20th century with an effective reforesting initiative.