Say so long to the snow boots, sweaters, and scarves because spring has sprung across Utah. While the ski bums may be sobbing as they watch the snow melting, for the rest of us, it signals a new season and new sport – it’s hiking season! To warm up your legs hit one or more of these spring hikes around the state. (And get at them fast because it feels like summer is just around the corner!)
1. Grandeur Peak | Wasatch Front
Visible from most of the Salt Lake City, Grandeur Peak stands front and center in the Wasatch front. Due to its close proximity to the the valley and its south and west facing slopes, this summit is one of the first in the area to melt out from the frosty grip of winter. From the Church Fork picnic area, this 5.5-mile (11-miles round-trip) hike travels along a small creek for the first mile or so before it turns uphill and traverses through a forest of scrub oak. This sun baked section is dry and rocky and beckons hikers to lather on the sunscreen no matter the temperature (trust me, I burned my shoulders both times that I’ve hiked this trail!). Depending on the winter, the last two pitches to the summit may still have snow covering the trail. To make this steep section a little easier, bring a pair of Yaktrax or just just tread carefully. From the top of Grandeur Peak, the entire valley spreads out before you. Enjoy views of the great Salt Lake, downtown, south Salt Lake, and all the way to the Stansbury Mountains on a clear day.
2. Devil’s Garden Trail | Arches National Park
The early spring is the best time to visit Utah’s deserts. The warmth greets the red rocks before the northern valleys, but the scorching summer sun hasn’t arrived just yet. One of the longest hikes within Arches National Park, Devil’s Garden Trail passes six stunning natural arches and is a gorgeous trail to explore during a cool spring morning. A 7.8-mile lollipop trail, this hike gradually climbs from the sandy desert floor up sprouting fin formations to a sprawling, crinkled plateau. Along the way, you’ll get to experience the immense beauty and power of the wind as you see Tunnel Arch, Pine Tree Arch, Wall Arch, Petition Arch, and Landscape Arch, which at 306′ long is one of the largest natural spans in the world. If you work for it, you can hike another 2.5 mile out to stand in the shadow of Dark Angel, a 150-foot sandstone tower. No matter the season, make sure to check the weather before beginning this hike, high temperatures and flash-flooding are regular threats in the desert. Also pack lots of water and cover your skin with light, sweat-wicking layers. **Crews are working on park roads at night through Nov. 30, 2017 with partial closures throughout the summer (mainly at night). Make sure to check all park alerts before visiting the park.**
3. Living Room Hike | Salt Lake City
When I first moved to Salt Lake City, my sister set me up on a blind date with a friend of a friend. And on a hot summer morning while my boyfriend was out of town, we set out to hike this popular trail. Departing from behind the Museum of Natural History, the Living Room Hike, traverses the western slopes of the Wasatch foothills as part of the Bonneville Shoreline trails. A heavily traveled out-and-back, 2.2-mile hike takes you to a beautiful vista of the city. Perched just a little shy of 1,000 feet above the valley floor, the main viewpoint along this hike has several stone benches and rocky outcroppings built up for hikers to kick back, relax – like in their living room – and take in the landscape before them. I repeated this hike just a few weekends ago with my new puppy, Revie! It was a nice escape in the morning and great way to ware out the dog! With hiking with your dog on this trail, be cautious as rattlesnakes are common as summer approaches.
4. Cassidy Arch | Capitol Reef National Park
If visiting Utah’s Mighty Five National Parks is on your short list this Spring Break, make sure Capitol Reef is on your list. Just off off the Scenic Drive near the entrance to the Grand Wash, the hike to Cassidy Arch is a moderate to steep hike that climbs stone stairs to the upper bench of the rock formation. Following cairns across this otherwise pathless landscape, the trail wraps around folders and water pockets in the rock to a hidden natural arch. What make’s Cassidy Arch so unique, is that the span is wide enough and thick enough for you to stand on! At only 3.5-miles round-trip, this is an easy hike to add on to any visit tot he park and is worth the photo-op!