I mainly moved to Utah for the outdoors. To live in a place with close access to mountains and outdoor recreation, while living among other humans and being able to have a good career. The situation is often that you live in a really beautiful outdoor town but the employment opportunities are lacking, or you live somewhere that is good for your career with less access to the outdoors. Salt Lake City is one of the most unique cities in the U.S. because it meets both of these needs allowing for the perfect balance of play and work. But don’t tell your friends — it’s one of our best kept secrets 😉 No matter where you live along the Wasatch Front, there is something close and available to satiate those nature needs.
As with all outdoor adventures please come prepared. This means bringing food, water, sunscreen, first aid supplies and an extra layer no matter how long or short the trail is, you never know what can happen! It’s always a good idea to review the Leave No Trace 7 Principles with your group before heading out. We only have one Earth to enjoy, let’s take care of it!
Here are some of my personal favorite places to play along the Wasatch Front.
Bear Lake is a local favorite! At 18.3 miles long, Bear Lake has room for everyone to play. Bring your powerboat, canoe, paddle board or pool noodle and splash in the cool blue waters. Surrounding the lake are numerous trails that are used for hiking, biking, ATV riding and horseback riding. Other activities include golf, camping, shooting ranges and visiting an ice cream parlour for their world famous raspberry ice cream and milkshakes. Bear Lake is dog and family friendly.
Ask anyone who went to Utah State University and they can tell you how incredible this secret gem of a community is. One trail that I highly recommend is the Wind Caves Trail. This trail is 3.5 miles round trip with scenic views along the way. This hike will take two hours on average and is dog and family friendly. Bring Rover and the little tykes on a hike!
Many ski resorts operate with year-round activities and Snowbasin has jumped on the bandwagon. Enjoy the Best Snow On Earth in the wintertime, and well groomed hiking and biking trails in the summer. You can take scenic gondola and chairlift rides, mountain bike, hike, dine, and hear live music while drinking local craft brews at their Brews, Blues and BBQ events that happens every Saturday starting June 10, 2018. Snowbasin is family and leashed-dog friendly.
Ogden is next in line as one of the most hip, up-and-coming cities in Utah. It has always had access to incredible nature and now the city is putting efforts toward building community and culture in Ogden. Here is what you should do and see:
Utah can get pretty toasty, so it’s nice to have a body of water to cool down in. Enjoy spectacular boating, windsurfing, swimming, fishing and beachin’ at this local favorite spot. The managed season for this area is approximately May 1 through September 20. Pineview reservoir is dog and family friendly.
This one is a little more off the beaten path. With no designated beach area, Causey provides a unique experience of water and rock. No motorboats are allowed leaving crystal smooth waters for paddle boarding, kayaking and canoeing. Slip on a blow-up tube and lounge in the sun. If you are feeling daring, you can climb up onto one of the many cliffs for some cliff jumping action! Causey Reservoir is dog and family friendly.
Get outside in a different way! Rock out with this summer concert series featuring artists such as Flaming Lips, Metronomy & Cold War Kids, Sylvan Esso, Big Wild and CHVRCHES. The secret about this hasn’t gotten out yet — you can still be the most hip hipster in your friend group by finding it first! Concerts are held every Thursday in June with six shows in July and August. Tickets are $10.
TLC said not to go chasing waterfalls but in this case, I highly suggest it. Adams Canyon Trail is in Layton, UT and is a 5.2 mile round trip highly trafficked trail. Bring your dogs, bring your kids, bring your friends or bring yourself! This trail has something to offer everyone.
Antelope Island State Park is one of my absolute FAVORITE places to go! You will experience a landscape that is extremely diverse and unique, with mountain views, grasslands and LOTS of buffalo! In all my visits to Antelope Island I have yet to see an antelope, but this island makes up for it in many ways. Visit the Fielding Garr Ranch and take a step back into history when people were first settling in the area. There is so much to do at this location you just have to go yourself and check it out! Antelope Island is dog and family friendly.
Are you a bird nerd? The Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area is host to hundreds of thousands of waterbirds, songbirds and raptors (not the dinosaurs) during the migration and nesting seasons. There have been more than 200 different species identified at this site to date. The best time to go to watch the migration is March — May or August — October. Dogs are welcome September 25 through February 28 and families are welcome any time!
Muller Park is an area in the Bountiful foothills and has access to several different trailheads. This was one of the first areas I explored when I started working in Bountiful and is perfect for a little after work hike. These trails are excellent for hiking, biking and trail running. Dogs are allowed on this trail.
The Bonneville Shoreline Trail is an extensive trail network with just over 100 miles of trail. Eventually, the plan is to stretch the trail from the Idaho border down to Nephi, more than 280 miles. This trail is nice because unlike most of the trails in Utah it does not have a ton of elevation gain and in some spots is relatively flat. You can find people out hiking, biking, trail running, photographing and enjoying the scenery. You can get some pretty amazing views at some points overlooking the Salt Lake Valley. The Bonneville Shoreline Trail is dog and family friendly.
This is a Utes classic. Anyone who has gone to the University of Utah knows about this gem in the city. This is a relatively steep but short hike with a hangout spot at the top overlooking the University and city. Relax on some stone-age furniture and soak it all in.
You might not know this but… Salt Lake is quickly becoming a music hub! The music scene is rapidly growing and the venues are attracting some pretty big names. Some artists to highlight in the Summer 2018 lineup are The Devil Makes Three, Ryan Adams, Violent Femmes, Dispatch, Counting Crows, Death Cab For Cutie and more. This venue is unique in that you bring your own chairs, food and BYOB. Yes, you heard me. BYOB in UTAH! This is the perfect venue for a low key evening with big name bands.
No, I am not repeating myself. Red Butte Gardens is a place as well as a music venue! Red Butte is positioned on 100 acres (wow) in the foothills on the eastern edge of the University of Utah. RBG is an official arboretum and has the largest botanical garden in the Intermountain West. They also host summer camps for kids, classes and workshops for adults, and is home base for in-situ and ex-situ conservation research.
Take a step back into history to when settlers first came to Utah. This Is The Place Heritage Park has over 50 historic homes and buildings to immerse you in the culture of Utah. With many interactive exhibits, petting zoos and train rides this is an excellent place for families to visit. In addition, This Is The Place has several stunning buildings ready to host your wedding ceremony and/or wedding reception.
This is the quickest way into nature while living in the city! City Creek Canyon offers lush green forests and a reprieve from the hot summer days that come in the dead of summer. Hike or bike up the canyon on a smooth paved trail. You can connect to the Bonneville Shoreline trail and Memory Grove from this trail system. Dogs are allowed in City Creek Canyon.
Millcreek Canyon is my favorite canyon in the summertime. It has lush green forests, well groomed trails, lots of wildlife (look out for moose!) and views for miles. One of my favorite trails to hike, bike or run is the Dog Lake Trail. This trail is 4.8 miles round trip and ends up at the beautiful Dog Lake. As tempting as it may be, swimming is not allowed as the water is protected as a watershed. I have often seen moose on this trail. Dogs are allowed on leash on even numbered days, and off leash on odd numbered days. Be prepared to pay the $3 as you exit the canyon!
Big Cottonwood Canyon is most known for the ski resorts it is home to — Brighton and Solitude. Everyone already knows that Utah is home to the Best Snow On Earth and world class skiing, but the fun doesn’t end when the snow melts! Both ski resorts have extensive hiking and mountain biking trails as well as summer events at Solitude. Some of the most popular trails in this canyon are the Crest Trail for mountain biking, Donut Falls for hiking, and Mill-D for both. I love Donut Falls personally for a fun and quick hike with a big reward. I highly recommend this trail to families with small children. Unfortunately (maybe fortunately?) this area is a watershed and no dogs are allowed.
Little Cottonwood is home to some of the world’s premier ski resorts — Alta and Snowbird. As with most of the Utah ski resorts, these mountains offer recreation opportunities all year round. No dogs are allowed in LCC.
Alta is known for its amazing snow but it is also known for the incredible meadows of wildflowers that bloom annually. There is a saying that people come here for the winter and stay for the summer — that is exactly what happened to me. As soon as I experienced the natural color palate of the mountains I had to stay. Some of the best trails to hike at Alta are Cecret Lake Trail (pronounced ‘secret’) and the Sunset Peak Trail. Unfortunately, dogs are not allowed.
Snowbird offers a plethora of hiking trails, but one of my favorite things is that they keep the party going all year long. Enjoy a scenic tram ride, cruise on the mountain coaster or attend one of their many events like Oktoberfest which starts in August. Unfortunately, dogs are not allowed.
Corner Canyon is hands-down one of my favorite places to mountain bike. The Rush Trail is always a crowd favorite offering a flowy downhill track. They have an extensive network of trails with enough variety that you can to a quick 5 mile loop or a 20 mile ride. This canyon technically allows dogs but the rules are very specific as to which areas dogs can be in. It is also heavily trafficked with speedy downhill mountain bikers so I recommend leaving Rover at home. Sorry, Rover.
Maybe rock climbing is more your thing? I’ve been to this canyon on numerous occasions and still have not chipped off the tip of the iceberg. This trail is a lovely and long trail winding through the woods with a relatively low pitch. The hiking is beautiful, however this canyon draws all levels of rock climbers due to its variation in routes. With routes ranging from 5.6 — 5.12b every climber in the group will have something to challenge them. This is a great place for dogs and families.
Now that you’ve hiked your way through the Wasatch Front it’s time for some R&R. Diamond Fork Hot Springs also known as “Fifth Water Hot Springs” is a relatively short and easy 2.5 mile hike with VERY rewarding hot springs at the end. When you reach the first pools, don’t stop there! If you hike up just a little bit further you will find a waterfall that helps feed these tiny pools of comfort. These all natural hot springs vary in temperature, so hike around until you find one to your liking. This area is semi-family friendly, the hike is suitable for small children but the hot springs can host some very liberal guests…if you know what I mean. Your furry friends are welcome to join in on this hike!
Well, now that I’ve planned out your entire summer for you, get out there and have fun! Leave a comment below with any tips and tricks or tell us how your adventure went. We love hearing from you!
Until next time,
Jules the Explorer