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Looking for the best hikes in Utah’s Wasatch Back?
With thousands of miles of trails in the area, hiking is one of the best things to do in the summer with kids if you ask us. But choosing the right trail is sometimes the hardest part. That’s why we’re here to help. We are highlighting the best hikes in Heber Valley, Park City Mountian Resort, Provo Canyon, Uinta’s, Daniels Canyon/Strawberry, and Guardsman Pass. Below we’ve listed 30 of the top hikes in the Wasatch Back. Each hike is rated easy, moderate, or hard and a brief description of the length and conditions follows.
This guide is meant to give you a broad overview and help you narrow down your hiking options. For more information about each hike, I’ve linked to additional trail information in the title. Obviously, we couldn’t include EVERY HIKE, but we tried to include something for everyone.
The map below marks the trailhead for each of the hikes listed. For additional hiking information, All Trails is an excellent resource, and I highly recommend the pro version of their app (it allows you offline access to hiking trails which can be PRICELESS!!).
Have a big hiker in your family? We’re currently obsessed with these gifts for hiking lovers!
Best Hikes in HEBER VALLEY
Huber Grove Trail – EASY
This is a great introductory hike for small kids or people new to hiking. The one mile trail starts across from the visitors center at Wasatch Mountain State Park. After a relatively flat hike, you end in historic Huber Grove. There you can learn about the history of the area and explore the pioneer apple orchard. If you go during the fall you can pick apples there as well (sign up at the visitors center for picking times). State Parks day use fee or annual pass required. Dogs allowed on leash
Spring Pond Loop – EASY to MODERATE
This 3 mile loop hike is a great for families and in the spring hikers will be rewarded by seeing the seasonal pone there. Perfect destination hike with kids since it’s close and relatively short. Great views of the mountains are found here. There is moderate shade along the trail. Dogs are allowed on leash.
Cascade Springs Nature Trail – EASY
This nature trail is a simple walk that everyone can do and is even stroller friendly. Follow the boardwalk and trail as it winds around the creek and pools of water. Although you can’t get in and swim, it’s a great spot for a scenic walk. This is a great spot for viewing fall colors and for photographs.
Note: Due to road construction, the road from Midway to Cascade Springs will be closed during summer 2019. This trail can still be accessed via the Alpine Loop side. Dogs allowed on leash.
Coyote Canyon Trail – EASY to DIFFICULT
22 Miles for the whole loop, though shorter cutoffs are available, As you get higher the trail becomes steeper and more difficult, though the lower sections are much easier. Coyote Canyon is the closest hike to Heber and can be accessed on the north side of town by Coyote Lane or from UVU. This trail is very popular with mountain bikers and can provide very long or short hikes. If you really want to go far, you can do the entire 22 mile loop, though there are signs at the trailhead where you can find much shorter routes that are suitable for the entire family. As you read the mountain biking maps at the trailhead, it’s important to note that green trails are the easiest, blue are moderate, and black are advanced. The trail gets more difficult as it ascends higher, but there are several easier routes lower and closer to the canal.
Jordanelle Lake Trail – EASY to MODERATE
The Jordanelle Lake trail covers over 20 miles of the east and northern shores of Jordanelle Reservoir. Starting at the Rock Cliff entrance to the park, this trail can be done all at once on a mountain bike or as an out and back trail, going as far as you would like. State park day use fees or annual passes required.
Ross Creek Trail – EASY
This trail is a popular loop for both hikers and mountain bikers. For a short 2 mile out and back trail, follow the old dirt access road down to the lake. For a longer 3.5 mile loop, follow the signs for the Wada Way and Keetley trails (this is the most common route to bike). Either route that you take will take you to the shores of Jordanelle. This trail is at the north end of Jordanelle State Park, so state park entrance fees apply.
The Hollow Trail @ Soldier Hollow – EASY to MODERATE
The Hollow is a 10 mile system of interconnected trails at Soldier Hollow. The trail both follows ski tracks and cuts between them. It is a popular mountain biking site as well. You will find a variety of terrain, but with so many trails, you can pick exactly what you want your terrain to be like.
This 3.6 mile hike is a perfect quick jaunt with kids. Park at the overflow parking lot just at the entrance to the Pine Creek Campground and the trail takes off directly to the west. There are several small spurs off the trail and kids will love that it returns along the creek. At the end of the trail, you’ll find a boulder field that’s perfect for letting kids scramble and play for a bit. The Wasatch Mountain State Park visitors center also offers a trail guide to help you identify plants along the way. State Parks day use fee or annual pass required. Dogs allowed on leash.
This trail offers some of the best views of the entire Heber Valley. A short jaunt at just 2.5 miles, this hike has a bit of a climb but is suitable for all ages. When you get to the top, there’s a small bench which make this hike a perfect spot for a picnic. Most of the hike is through sagebrush and scrub oak, so there’s almost no shade. In the summer, this hike is best done early in the morning or in the early evening. State Parks day use fee or annual pass required. Dogs allowed on leash.
Dutch Hollow Trail System -VARIETY
Dutch Hollow has an extensive trail system for hiking and mountain biking. There are 15 trails there with varying difficulty. Most of the trails are through sagebrush and scrub oak so shade is very limited. Because Dutch Hollow is part of Wasatch Mountain State Park, a State Parks day use fee or annual pass required. Dogs allowed on leash. For more information and a map of specific trails, go here.
Middle Provo River Trail – EASY
There are 4 different access points to get to the Provo River in Heber Valley. However, since the river flows through private property in many areas, a lot of them are not suitable for hiking. However, just south of Jordanelle Dam, there is an easy trail that parallels the river. Large shade trees grow all along the river so this trail can be done even during the heat of summer.
Best Hikes in PARK CITY
Round Valley Trail System – EASY to MODERATE
Located just off Highway 40, the Round Valley trails can be easily accessed by parking at Quinn’s Junction Trailhead. The main loop is 6 miles but there are TONS of interconnected trails so you can hike as little or as much as you’d like. Dogs are welcome and allowed OFF leash.
Iron Canyon Trail – DIFFICULT
This 5 mile out and back trail rewards hikers with great views of Park City and all the ski resorts there. It’s relatively short, but also quite steep, especially at the end. Trail goes through meadows as well as aspen and pine forests. Dogs allowed on leash.
Rob’s Trail – MODERATE
Rob’s trail starts at Bear Hollow and then winds up the south of the Utah Olympic Park. The trail is wide as it climbs through both aspen and pine forests. This is an out and back trail that is 4 miles RT, or you can continue going to meet up with the Ambush or Mid-Mountain Trail.
Dawn’s Trail – EASY
This trail is quick and easy and has great access to downtown Park City. Dawn’s trail starts on the Armstrong trail and continues in a loop up Park City Mountain Resort and climbs uphill along the ski runs. The trail has several switchbacks and is 3.6 miles. End the trail, heading down Dawn’s trail.
Best Hikes at GUARDSMAN PASS
Bloods Lake Trail – EASY
This is a great short hike up near Guardsman Pass. It’s only a mile round trip but ends in a beautiful lake, so it’s a perfect destination hike even for young kids. By far the highlight of a visit to Bloods lake is the rope swing at the south end of the lake. On a hot summer day, there are few things more refreshing than a swim in a cold alpine lake! If you’re looking for a longer hike, continue to Lackawaxen Lake. Guardsman Pass is closed in the winter so this hike is only accessible from about May-October. Dogs allowed off leash.
Lackawaxen Lake – MODERATE
The trail to Lackawaxen Lake starts off with a hike to Bloods Lake. Continue to hike around the lake until you reach the southeast end where the Lackawaxen trail heads up and makes a couple of switchbacks. The trail will take you through meadows, forests and even a small boulder field before you reach Lackawaxen Lake. On your return hike, you can take the same trail you did coming up or make a loop and bag Peak 10,420. Guardsman Pass is closed in the winter so this hike is only accessible from about May-October. Dogs allowed off leash.
Clayton Peak – DIFFICULT
This peak sits at 10,721 ft but the entire hike is only 3.5 miles so it’s a great hike if you want a good reward with low miles. Start at the top of Guardsman pass and head up the south ridge. The trail is steep and often difficult with a few places where you’ll need to scramble across boulders. If the air is clear you’ll be able to see from the Uintah’s all the way to Strawberry Reservoir. Bugs can often be really bad up here to take some insect repellant. Guardsman Pass is closed in the winter so this hike is only accessible from about May-October. Dogs allowed off leash as long as you don’t enter the watershed down by Brighton ski area.
Shadow Lake Trail – MODERATE
This lake is also accessed by heading to the top of Guardsman Pass and parking at the overlook. This is a 4.2 mile loop and takes off to the north from the parking lot. The first hill can be quite steep, but don’t let that deter you as the hike is stunning. Shadow Lake is inside of Park City Mountain Resort so you’ll soon pass Jupiter lift. The trail is well marked along the way and makes a loop with Shadow Lake in the middle. Once you reach the lake, continue on the Apex trail to make a loop back up to the parking lot. This trail goes along the edge of the Big Cottonwood watershed. Most of the trail is fine, but there are a few areas where you will need to take short detours if your dog is with you to avoid getting fined.
Best Hikes in PROVO CANYON
Big Springs Hollow Trail – EASY
This trail is located up South Fork south of Vivian Park in Provo Canyon. It’s an easy 4.3 mile loop that takes you alongside a large meadow with a small creek running along it. The trail ends at Big Springs which is quite refreshing especially in summer, and there is a tire swing there to relax and play on. To change up the scenery, take the Cascade trail back to the parking lot. Dogs are permitted on leash.
Cascade Saddle Trail – DIFFICULT
The trail up to Cascade Saddle is a difficult trail that is 11 miles round trip. This trail starts at the same trailhead as Big Springs Hollow, but continues on much further. The trail passes through several high altitude mountain bowls and the last ½ mile is especially strenuous since it’s nearly straight up. However, the views from the top are spectacular. Dog allowed on leash.
Stewart Falls Trail – EASY
This trail is heavily trafficked and is a 3.4 mile round trip hike. The hike takes you through both aspen and pine forests and ends at the spectacular Stewart Falls. This trail is typically closed in the winter due to avalanche danger, and is best hiked from May-October. Parking is at the Aspen Grove Trailhead on the Alpine Loop Highway (just past the entrance fee station). In the summer months the parking lot almost always fills up so it is recommended to start early. This trail is a great one for summer since most of it is in the shade and once you get to the waterfall you can splash around to cool yourself off. Dogs are allowed.
Mt Timpanogos Timpooneke Trail – DIFFICULT
This is one of the most popular routes up Mt Timpanogos and is a 14.5 mile strenuous hike. The summit of Timpanogos is at 11,749 feet so this trail requires a high level of fitness. Because of the high altitude and snowpack, this trail is best done in the late summer or early fall. Along the way you will pass through beautiful high alpine meadows of wildflowers and you will likely see some mountain goats. This trail can be done as one long day or broken up into an overnight hike for a 2 day trip. Dogs allowed on leash.
Primrose Overlook and Horse Spring Trail – MODERATE
This trail is accessed along the alpine loop highway. It’s a 3.6 mile hike through aspen groves and pine forests that offers fantastic views of the surrounding mountains and Mt Timpanogos. This hike goes through several meadows which offer great wildflower viewing. The trailhead can be a bit hard to find, but once you park at the circular pullout near the toilet, the trailhead is on the south side of the road. You can also do just the Horse Spring Loop, but adding an extra mile to go to Primrose Overlook is well worth it.
Best Hikes in the UINTA MOUNTAINS
(Note: All of the routes that we are featuring are great hikes for families in the Uinta Mountains)
Nobletts Creek Trail – EASY
This 2.1 mile trail follows alongside a creek and visitors especially like the waterfall. Hiking this trail will give you great views of the valley as you go along the ridge. This trail is fairly easy and only has light traffic, though you will occasionally see horses on the trail. Dogs are allowed on leash.
Lofty Lake Trail – EASY to MODERATE
This 4 mile trail in the Uinta’s is one of the most popular trails in the region, and with good reason. This trail passes several alpine lakes as well as many great overlooks of the surrounding mountains and valleys. For ease of hiking, counter-clockwise hiking is recommended. Often called one of the most beautiful hikes in the Uinta Mountains.
Ruth Lake – EASY
At just under 1 mile to get to the lake (1.7 miles RT), this is a very popular lake among families. You’ll walk past several marshy areas and lakes as you get close to Ruth Lake. This trail is very popular, but head a little north and west of Ruth Lake, and you’ll find several other small lakes that are worth hiking around and exploring. This trail also makes a great first backpacking trip for kids.
Bald Mountain – MODERATE
Bald Mountain is hard to miss if you’re driving along the Mirror Lake Highway – it’s the giant rock mountain looming at over 12,000 feet. Surprisingly, this impressive mountain can be summited with only a 2.6 mile round trip hike. The trail is easy to follow and when you get to the top, you’ll be in for a treat as you get one of the best views in the High Uinta mountains.
Best Hikes in DANIELS CANYON and Best Hikes at STRAWBERRY RESERVOIR
Thornton Hollow Trail – MODERATE
This 4.3 mile out and back trail will take you from Daniels Canyon up to the ridge on the west. The trail foes through the pine trees with beautiful meadows along the way. There are some rocky stream crossings, with thick vegetation around them, so be mindful of your footwear as this could be slippery or difficult to cross. This trail is popular for horseback riding, hiking and mountain biking. Dogs are allowed, but must be kept on a leash.
Clegg Canyon Trail – Moderate
The trail up Clegg Canyon is 5.75 miles roundtrip and takes you through a variety of mountain terrain. Along the lower portion of the trail, there is a stream to cross (seasonally). The top and bottom of this trail are fairly flat, however, the middle can get quite steep. Along the way there are several meadows that are great for viewing wildflowers.
Strawberry Narrows – MODERATE
This 12 mile trail connects Strawberry and Soldier Creek sections of Strawberry Reservoir through a narrow canyon. This trail has parking lots at both the Renegade trailhead end and the Aspen Grove trailhead. It can be done as a shuttled hike or you can hike as far as you’d like and then turn around (I recommend starting at Aspen Grove if you’re doing an out and back hike). The canyon along the narrows is one of the most beautiful around and is heavily forested, with occasional meadows, and great lake views. Because this trail is so remote, cell phones may not work, so come prepared.