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Utah has some of the best trails for hiking in the United States. We’ve got desert hiking, alpine hiking, urban hiking and just about everything in between. If you’re looking to get your kids hiking, you’ll find something to please everyone here in Utah.
What age should kids start hiking?
A lot of people ask us “What’s the best age for kids to start hiking?” We are firm believers that the sooner you introduce your kids to the outdoors, the better. Personally, we start hiking with our babies when they’re just a few months old in this carrier. As our kids learn to walk, we let them out of the carrier for small stretches of our hikes so that they can learn to hike on the trail. However, since going at the pace of a one-year-old is incredibly slow (toddlers pick up EVERYTHING and examine it), we typically only have them hike for short stretches. Around age 2.5 all of our kids have been able to hike about 2 miles. Obviously they cannot go as fast as older kids, but allowing them the freedom to hike independently is so good for their confidence and for their future love of the outdoors.
By age 5, all of our kids can hike 5 miles, and last year our 7-year-old blew our minds by hiking 14 miles one day.
How To Get Kids To Hike Farther
If you want to get your kids to be able to hike farther, there are a couple of great things that you can do to prepare them. The first is to start small and gradually build up their mileage and time on the trail. To get our son up to 14 miles, we started out the year with short hikes that were just 2-3 miles long. The more often kids are hiking on the trail, the farther they can go.
The other trick that we regularly use to get our kids to hike farther is to hike with friends. Our kids can pretty easily double their normal distance if they’re having fun and hiking with friends.
What to take when hiking with kids
When we’re out hiking, there are 3 things that I absolutely NEVER hike without. The first is a first-aid kit (this one is great because it also has some survival equipment in it, but is still small), and lots of healthy hiking snacks for kids (I usually take twice as much food as they would eat at home). The last is lots of water (especially in the summer. My favorite water bottle is this one that has never leaked, but my kids really love their hydration packs (and they drink a lot more with them than water bottles – win!).
Aside from that, it just depends on the hike. If it’s going to be rainy, we pack our packable rain jackets (these kids rain jackets are the best quality we’ve found and last through multiple kids). If we are in bear territory, I never leave home without my bear spray, especially after my run in with a growling bear last year in Big Sky Montana.
Getting Kids To Hike Without Whining
If your kids start whining as soon as you start hiking, don’t be dismayed. Two of my kids were like this and now they’re superstar hikers. If you want your kids to hike without whining, we’ve compiled all our best hiking tips here.
Best Hikes With Kids In Utah
If you are in search of the best hikes in Utah that are ‘children friendly’, Look no further as we have generously compiled an extensive list of the best hiking sites in Utah with kids that you can enjoy with your little ones.
So let us get started with our top picks while you get ready to hike in Utah with kids. You can find all of these below on the map to help you organize your kid friendly hikes by area.
- What age should kids start hiking?
- How To Get Kids To Hike Farther
- What to take when hiking with kids
- Getting Kids To Hike Without Whining
- Best Hikes With Kids In Utah
- Best Hikes with Kids in the Wasatch Front
- Best Hikes With Kids in the Wasatch Back & Uintahs
- Best Hikes with Kids in Eastern Utah
- Best Desert Hikes in Utah With Kids
Best Hikes with Kids in the Wasatch Front
If you’re looking for the best hikes with kids in the Wasatch Front, we’ve got you covered. These are great hikes for kids around Salt Lake City, Davis and Weber Counties, and in Utah County.
Location: Big Cottonwood Canyon
Distance: 3 Miles RT
This trail offers one of the best hikes in Utah for kids as it is suitable for everyone regardless of their age or hiking experience. Even though the trail starts with a little elevation, it hardly acts as a hurdle. Your children will love the meadows and woods that the trail follows through.
Once you make your way to the falls, you can cross a small bridge to get the breathtaking view of the falls. Before you embark on your trip, take plenty of water and snacks for your kids.
This trail is really popular in the summer, so plan to get to the trailhead early to get a parking spot. Moose are common as you get closer to the falls to make sure to give them plenty of distance as moose can be incredibly dangerous. Once you get to the falls, you can do a short downclimb (this is difficult with small children) to get down to the river and explore the falls.
Distance: 0.3 Miles
If you are looking for a hiking trip that’s close to Salt Lake with an element of water, Lisa Falls should be your top pick for hiking with kids. The waterfall is famous for cascading sideways down along a smooth rock. There is a pool of water at the bottom of the falls where your kids can jump and play to their heart’s content.
The hike here is very short but very rocky, so don’t forget to hold their hands. At Lisa falls, your kids can make the most of climbing boulders and throwing pebbles into the water.
Bells Canyon Reservoir
Distance: ¾ miles RT
The Bells Canyon is a 20-minute hike that offers thrill, adventure, and an experience of a lifetime. The trail has spacious parking and also provides the facility of restrooms. Your children will love climbing the huge granite boulders and will have a hard time choosing all the activities that this trail offers.
The mesmerizing views and stunning greenery will be the best escape for you and your family. Once you hike up to the ridge, you can get a full view of the lake that is rich in Cutthroat Trout. This hiking site is bound to be your children’s favorite easy hikes.
Distance: 1.7 Miles
There are so many flowers and bugs here waiting to be explored. As the trail isn’t steep at all, the kids can wander about and have fun climbing the big rocks. Be prepared to sight deer, chipmunks, and birds on your way up this trail. This is a great trail to take kids hiking on since it ends at Cecret Lake which is a great place to hang out for a while and enjoy a picnic. The last time we were there, we found a bunch of tadpoles and pollywogs, which kept our kids entertained for well over an hour.
Location: Ogden, Utah
Distance: 2.5 Miles RT
This hiking spot is famous for the enthralling view of the breathtaking 200-foot waterfall that comes on the canyon’s upper end. It is a short but challenging hike that you can enjoy with your kids while exploring the different trails this area offers. The trail can be quite steep in places, but the views at the end are absolutely stunning. Waterfall canyon is also great because dogs are allowed on the trail.
Distance: 5.4 Miles RT
One hiking site that promises to give your children a thrilling adventure is Holbrook Canyon, since it follows a creek for most of the trail, which my kids always love doing while they hike. Filled with bridges and a stream that gets knee-high at different points, this site is a great place for hiking with kids in Utah and will keep them happy all day long!
This trail also allows dogs to be off their leashes. Some of the bridges are wobbly, so make sure you hold your children’s hands tightly. There are 2 trails that take off from the trailhead, so double check to make sure you are on the Holbrook Canyon trail and not the Sessions trail.
Location: North Salt Lake
Distance: 1 mile or 2.5 miles RT (depending on the loop)
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Located in North Salt Lake, Wild Rose is an exciting hiking site for both adults and children. Your children can take their furry buddy off-leash and run through the path while enjoying the gorgeous views. There are a couple of different loop options so you can choose how far you would like to hike. The first is a 1 mile loop and the second is a 2.5 mile loop that gives you incredible views of Salt Lake City and City Creek.
The trail is filled with greenery and beautiful wildflowers in the summer which is always a treat. At the bottom of the trail, there is a playground which the kids will love.
The Grotto Falls
Distance: 0.7 miles
This short and wide trail is perfect for all groups. It curves along through the forest while following a little stream. Your children will love crossing the parts of the stream where the forest services have placed large timber. This aspect excites the kids the most.
A beautiful waterfall greets you at the end of your journey. As the water is shallow, the whole family can enjoy a well-deserved dip to wade off the summer heat.
Battle Creek Falls
Location: Pleasant Grove
Distance: 4 miles RT
Another one of the best hiking spots with kids in Utah is Battle Creek Falls, which leads to a gorgeous waterfall. There are quite a few fun spots along the trail as well. There is a small pond where your little ones can splash and throw rocks in. Moving further, there is a tiny cave that you and your kids can pose to capture memorable pictures.
The hike isn’t too difficult that toddlers can’t hike it, yet teens will also enjoy this Utah hike. Just remember to hold hands with younger kids around the falls as it can get pretty slippery.
Best Hikes With Kids in the Wasatch Back & Uintahs
If you’re looking for the best hikes with kids in the Wasatch Back and Uintah’s, we’ve put them together here. This includes the best hikes with kids around Park City and Heber as well as the best hikes in the Uintah forest and wilderness.
Location: Provo Canyon
Distance: 3.4 Miles RT
Stewart Falls is a gorgeous hiking trail that is brimming with nature. However, the path is sometimes rocky, so hold onto your kids’ hands (especially near the avalanche areas about halfway to the falls). Turkeys, rabbits, and deer are commonly seen at this trail, so make sure you and your kids keep your eyes peeled.
The main attraction of Stewart Falls is the gorgeous overlook of a waterfall. You can snap quick family pictures and make sure to keep your kids away from the edge. If you’re going with kids, avoid the top area of the falls as there are steep cliffs, instead head down the trail towards the river at the bottom of the falls, where the mist from the waterfalls will cool you down and the kids can play in the river. This trail is heavily trafficked, especially on weekends.
Location: Guardsman Pass
Distance: 3 miles
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Bloods Lake offers an easy hike and a small distance to cover to get to the gorgeously calm lake. The lake itself is small but super clean. When having a day out with the kids, visit the Southeast corner as it has a rope swing that your children will love.
It will do wonders in beating the heat on a hot sunny day. However, the best time to visit this site with your family is during late summer and spring. The kids will fall in love with the lake and the gorgeous views.
To get to Bloods Lake, make sure that you are using the new trail and parking lot which is about a mile east of the summit. The hike is a moderate downhill at first though the final stretch to the lake is uphill switchbacks.
Location: Uintah Forest
Distance: 2 Mile RT
Ruth Lake is one of the most popular hikes in the Uintahs.. The trail is relatively easy, and the kids will have a splendid time making their way through the gorgeous meadows and streams. The path does get rocky at some places, but your kids will do fine with a little assistance.
You can also make the most of the campsites around the lake and enjoy quality time with your kids.
If you’re looking for a great place to introduce your kids to backpacking, I highly recommend going here. We’ve taken our kids here and love that there are lots of little lakes all around where we can camp and enjoy some solitude in the backcountry with this easy hike for kids.
Distance: 2 Miles
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
This short trail is a perfect hiking spot for families with kids. The trail is marked and is super easy to follow. The path is loaded with water and shade, so it is better to wear water-friendly shoes.
Your kids will love the water running right next to them. You can also take your dog along on this family trip if he is well-behaved.
Best Hikes with Kids in Eastern Utah
Just because Eastern Utah is a bit off the beaten path, it still has some amazing places to hike with kids in Utah. We’re sharing our favorite hike with kids in Eastern Utah, but we’ve written a separate article all about the best hikes with kids around Vernal and Dinosaur National Monument.
Distance: 7 miles to the river or 4 miles to Ely Falls
Difficulty: Easy, but long
Jones Hole is our family’s favorite place to hike in Eastern Utah. The views are incredible, and it’s so great to hike in the summer since you’re hiking alongside a stream. Pack your swimming suits so you can splash around in Ely Falls or take a dip in the stream or swim in the Green River.
We love hiking just to Ely Falls and seeing the Pictographs along the way.
This kid friendly hiking site in Utah is accessible all year round and has multiple activity options that you can enjoy to the fullest. Jones Hole National Fish Hatchery is located along this trail and the surrounding area where they raise different types of trout.
Best Desert Hikes in Utah With Kids
If I have to be honest, desert hiking in Utah with kids is my absolute favorite. Although you do need to be careful to avoid the heat of the day, there is so much for kids to explore in the desert. When we go desert hiking in Utah, our kids love to catch lizards, climb rocks, race across slickrock, and although rare, the wildflowers always get extra attention from the kids when we are hiking in the desert.
Location: Moab, Arches National Park
Distance: 3 Miles RT
Delicate Arch is a small hike that leads to Utah’s most famous natural arch (It’s the one on the license plate). This fun-filled trip will give your kids a much-needed exposure to nature’s marvels. The kid-friendly trail will allow your children to enjoy watching birds and see the beauty of wildflowers.
The best time to visit this trail is early in the morning or a couple hours before sunset at the temperatures cool down as the temperature cools down, and the rocks give off a magical hue. Make sure you take plenty of water as the temperature gets quite high.
The Windows, Arches National Park
Location: Arches National Park, Moab
Distance: 2 miles RT
This trail is filled with gorgeous wildflowers in the spring and is a great Utah Desert hike suitable for all age groups. Your kids will enjoy this lovely and short hike that leads to a beautiful arch with splendid views. Due to its gorgeously scenic views, this site is often crowded.
If you want to avoid the crowds while doing this easy hike at Arches National Park, plan on going early in the day, or in the evening. As a bonus, the weather will be cool, since Moab can be incredibly hot for a lot of the year.
If you’re planning on spending more time in Moab, make sure to check out our guide full of adventures for kids in Moab. We also have written articles on what to do in Arches and Canyonlands National Parks while you’re visiting (you really need to visit both national parks while you’re there.
Little Wild Horse
Distance: 8 Miles RT
Your kids will thoroughly enjoy making their way through the twists and turns that this canyon offers. At the start of the trail, the canyon is wide, but then narrows down the further you go. This slot canyon hike is perfect with kids because it doesn’t require any technical gear or rappels like many other slot canyon hikes in the area.
The walls of the canyon are beautiful, and your kids will love the rock formations. You can also take your dog on a leash so he doesn’t miss out on the fun.
Make sure to check the weather before you go for the immediate area and the entire San Rafael Swell. If any rain is in the forecast, DO NOT GO! The risk of flash floods here is incredibly high if rain is in the forecast, and the last time we went, there was a flash flood 2 days later and there were deaths involved. This is one of the most popular slot canyons to hike with kids in Utah, but do not automatically assume it is safe if other people are doing it. Educate yourself on the risks of hiking slot canyons with kids in advance.
Hickman Bridge Capitol Reef
Location: Torrey, Capitol Reef
Distance: 1.8 Miles
This fun hiking trail in Capitol Reef National Park starts along the river’s side and then eventually makes its way up the mountains. Kids love this site owing to the cool things you find on the way.
The first of them is an ancient ring made of stones that is believed to be an Ancient Native American house. Further along, there is a small bridge that your children will love to explore. There are several easy hikes with kids in Capital Reef, but Hickman Bridge is one of our favorites.
Lower Calf Creek Falls
Distance: 6.5 miles RT
Lower Calf Creek Falls provides a beautiful experience of hiking with the river on your side. However, the only challenging aspect of this hike is finding a spot to park. Once you have the parking sorted (parking is very limited so early morning and late afternoon are your best bet), you can embark on your journey that will lead you to the icy cold waterfall where your children can splash around.
Most of the trail is out in the open so there is very little shade, so don’t plan in hiking during the heat of the day.
The scenery that surrounds the trail is breathtaking and abundant in wildflowers and wildlife. Once you reach the waterfall, there are empty spaces where you can put up a hammock and relax. Our kids wanted to stay here for a few hours and every now and then, one of them would get brave enough to jump into the icy cold water. The kids can take a swim in the water or make castles in the sand. This will be one family hiking trip that you will cherish forever. This is one of the best Utah hikes with kids.
Peek-A-Boo And Spooky Slot Canyons
Distance: 6.5 miles RT
Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult
These splendid hikes can be accomplished individually, but they qualify as a thrilling family experience if you complete them in one goes. Once you start, you will watch yourself parading through mesmerizing purple and red rocks. As you start and climb into Peek-a-boo, you have to do a steep climb of about 20 feet to get into the canyon. This is the hardest part of the hike. If you cannot get up this section, it’s best to turn around. If you have climbing experience, we recommend setting up a hand line for your group anchored at the top.
Once you get into the canyons, they are absolutely stunning and the slots will make this one of your kids favorite hikes in Utah.
From the top of Peek-a-boo, follow the cairns to the East to get to the entrance of Spooky.
There are various cut-outs to aid you in getting into the canyon. Moving further, you will reach Spooky Glutch’s entrance. The sandstone’s contours and natural waves make it perfect for photographing. This will be a fun-filled family activity that your children will thoroughly enjoy.
Take plenty of water as you have to hike uphill about a mile at the end to get back to the trailhead and temperatures can get incredibly hot in this section (there is no shade here).
Red Reef Trail
Distance: 2.2 Miles
This trail will prove to be one of the best family hiking adventures in Southern Utah. The Red Reef Trail’s lower portion moves up the Water Canyon and provides breathtaking views, ultimately leading into narrow valleys of red rocks and pools of water.
As you make your way through the trail, you will come across a huge old stump that sticks out of the ground, which is called the Elephant. You can take loads of memorable photos here. The trail then leads to a pool of water where you can enjoy a nice swim.
If you want to continue past here, you’ll need a good amount of courage and some sure footing as you basically have to walk up a steep section of sandstone. When we were there, a small rope had been placed to hold on to, but all the kids under 8 needed adult support to get through this section. This easy hiking trail is located just outside of St George Utah and is right off I-15 so it’s incredibly convenient.
Location: Zion National Park, Springdale
Distance: 3 Miles RT
This kid friendly hiking trail in Zion National Park to a gorgeous waterfall that makes its way down into a gorgeous pool. The trail starts at the mountain’s side and follows through a scenic forest. There are many rocks that your kids can climb and pose with, for a memorable photograph. The hike ends at a mesmerizing waterfall. Note: This hike is closed as of July 2020.
Distance: 4 Miles RT
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
This hiking site will provide the best hiking adventure for kids with some of the best scenery. The trail is loaded with tiny waterfalls and is the perfect activity for water lovers. Prepare yourself to get wet as most of this trail goes through the water (make sure to wear wear outdoor sandals or water hiking shoes). It’s a great beginner slot canyon for kids.
There are many obstacles to climb that will add to the hike’s adventure. Your children will experience the ultimate thrill of climbing over wooden ladders and ropes to move around the canyon. This hike is not well suited to small children since the climbing ladders and ropes are very slick (unless they have the help of an incredibly competent adult), but kids over 10 will absolutely love it.
Reservations are required and entrance into the canyon costs $12 per person
There you have it. These are some of the best places in Utah to hike with kids. Have a favorite trail that you want us to include? Contact me and tell me about your favorite kid friendly hiking trail in Utah.