When it comes to hiking, Utah is uniquely qualified to boast about its extraordinary diversity of scenery and terrain, and the best trails are often found along the road less traveled. Here are five hidden Utah adventures worth a visit this summer:
Red Mountain Trail
Perhaps no trail showcases the unique beauty of Snow Canyon State Park better than Red Mountain Trail. This roughly 12-mile trek along the edge of the park is strenuous and requires route-finding skills. It’s a long hike, but well worth the reward of breathtaking views.
The trail starts near Dammeron Valley, a rural community just north of St. George. However, some hikers choose to start on the southern end in Ivins. Leashed dogs are permitted.
Cacti are abundant as hikers navigate through swirls of red and white sandstone. With fortuitous timing, you may also see pools of water left behind by recent rains. Start early and take plenty to drink, as there’s no shade to be found.
Although the St. George area is renowned for its red rock scenery, the Blake-Gubler Trail offers a different view of the hiking mecca. The rugged trail gains 1,900 feet through various ecosystems from upland desert to alpine forest. Have one of the most scenic spots in the Pine Valley wilderness all to yourself.
“There’s this incredible faerie castle-type place about halfway up that’s truly magical,” author and adventurer Don Gilman said. “It’s a rarely seen part of the area, and the unique granitic rock structures are like something out of Lord of the Rings.”
The trail is infrequently traveled and offers a respite not only from the summer heat, but also the crowds that flock to more popular hiking areas nearby. The strenuous route is approximately 8.8 miles roundtrip. Dogs are allowed.
Murphy Wash Trail
Murphy Wash Trail is a gem within Utah’s least-visited national park. Take in the untamed beauty and vastness of Canyonlands along this 8.3-mile route suited for moderate hikers and nature lovers.
The trail also offers a glimpse of the region’s history with views of abandoned roads and trails built by uranium miners during the 1950s. Expect an elevation gain of about 1,400 feet, most of which takes place at the beginning and end of the hike.
Daytime highs in the area often exceed 100° F in late summer. Get an early start to avoid both the heat and the chance of afternoon thunderstorms. The wash is usually dry but may still hold water from recent rains. Dogs are not allowed.
The Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest holds myriad treasures waiting to be discovered. However, the majority of casual hikers don’t venture beyond the first few miles into where the most pristine beauty lies.
As the name implies, Powerhouse Mountain is a workout. Are you up for the challenge?
Just outside Springville, the trail offers spectacular panoramic views at the summit and tranquil meadows along the way as you climb. The moderate, 9.9-mile out-and-back route gains 3,200 feet in elevation. Dogs are permitted.
A quick drive into the mountains northeast of Salt Lake City takes hikers away from the hustle and bustle of downtown. Lookout Peak is a quiet, secluded 7.9-mile trail with views of grassy rolling hills and surrounding peaks.
The trail climbs out of Affleck Park and starts heading north, gradually rising to the summit. You’ll gain 2,800 feet in elevation along the way. From the top, Lookout Peak offers expansive views of Emigration Canyon to the west and Grandeur Peak to the north.
“Sometimes you can’t get cell service, which deters some people,” said Matt Mravetz, owner of the Park City-based Wasatch Adventure Guides. “But it’s nice to be able to go to an area that’s still undeveloped. It makes you feel disconnected from the busy world we live in.”
These hidden treasures only scratch the surface of what Utah has to offer. Venture off the beaten path and see what else you can discover.
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