When it comes to hiking, it’s nearly impossible to beat the American West. And for many Utah residents, the state’s scenery and outdoor activities are the main reason they love living in the state. With so many hikes to choose from in Utah, it’s up for debate which are the state’s most wonderfully scenic, but here are our favorites.
To anyone living in Utah Valley, Mount Timpanogos is the hike of all hikes. The majestic peak towers over Utah County and reigns supreme as one of Utah’s most stunning landmarks. The hike is a journey of beautiful views, colorful wildflowers, and unexpected wildlife. Mount Timpanogos stands at 11,752 feet, making it the second tallest peak in Utah. With that in mind, you’re probably thinking this hike sounds long—and it is. But that doesn’t mean it’s solely reserved for experienced mountaineers. It is, however, not for the faint of heart, so if 15 miles of strenuous hiking doesn’t sound like it’s up your alley, this may not be the hike for you. Of course, any hiker should be well-aware of the weather conditions the day of their hike. And if you are a relatively inexperienced hiker, make sure you try this one with a more experienced group of outdoor enthusiasts.
Located on the backside of Mount Timpanogos, Stewart Falls is a quaint but beautiful waterfall not far from Robert Redford’s Sundance Mountain Resort. But unlike hiking to the top of Mount Timpanogos, hiking to Stewart Falls is much easier. With a well-marked and leveled trail, the hike feels remote without requiring much preparation. In fact, you can usually park a good two miles from the waterfall and take your time exploring and enjoying your hike in. The waterfall is particularly exciting for children, who can play in the shallow water and feel the waterfall’s mist in their face. And while summer Is a wonderful time for this hike, the scenery is unbelievable come mid-September, when all the quaking aspens change colors.
With its trailhead five minutes from downtown Provo, Rock Canyon is one of the most popular hiking destinations in Utah. But just because it’s convenient doesn’t mean the hike isn’t beautiful. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. The hike is a workout, but not too hard of a workout, unless you keep going for longer than the standard four-mile roundtrip hike. Hiking Rock Canyon is a customizable experience, making it perfect for both young families who don’t want to go too far and more adventurous hikers who want to continue on the trail all the way to Squaw Peak. It would be difficult to find someone who doesn’t like Rock Canyon—it really is one of Utah’s most versatile gems.
Utah’s Arches National Park may be the most famous for its collection of incredible geological feats of nature, but Canyonlands National Park is also home to some of Utah’s most iconic arches, including Mesa Arch, which attracts hundreds of millions of visitors every year. Hiking to Mesa Arch is easy, and doesn’t constitute much of a “real” hike. That said, it would be a shame to miss out on such an inconceivable view. If you go, make sure to bring your camera. Behind Delicate Arch in Arches National Park, Mesa Arch is probably the second most photographed place in Utah.
Hiking in Horseshoe Canyon is like stepping into a time machine. With sweet spring wild flowers, a soft stream at the bottom of the canyon, and high sandstone walls, the area’s highlight is the Great Gallery: a series of well-preserved, life-size petroglyphs created by a nomadic group of hunter-gatherers that predate both the Fremont and Ancestral Puebloans. The hike to the Great Gallery is about 11 miles, usually requiring five hours or more of hiking. But as most southern Utah enthusiasts would confirm, both the destination and the journey are worth any daunting distance.