Utah would hardly be Utah without hiking. From a young age, most Utahans are exposed to some sort of outdoor adventuring, and a love for traversing the mountain trails is a near requisite for residency in the Beehive State. If you’re new to Utah or visiting, the following five trails are great for beginners and families. Quick, scenic, and adaptable, they’ll immerse you in the beauty of a place that thousands of hiking enthusiasts call home.
Nearly any parent knows that getting out on a hike with the family can be difficult. Usually, it takes preparation, a pack of snacks, the right apparel, good weather, and a positive attitude. Once everyone is on the trail, however, the joy of adventuring as a family begins to materialize. Luckily, hiking Battle Creek Falls eliminates half the battle. Why? With the trailhead located just up the hill from Pleasant Grove High School, there’s no off-roading or lengthy preparation required. What’s more, the hike makes you feel like you’ve left the city behind without really having to leave the city behind at all. Only 1.2 miles roundtrip, the hike takes you to a small waterfall that entertains kids but isn’t too threatening. It’s the perfect summer cool-down that can become more of a workout if you want to keep following the trail beyond the falls.
Hiking to Delicate Arch in Arches National Park is arguably the most quintessential Utah hike. Tourists travel from across the globe to see this towering landmark in its full glory, which makes sense, because pictures simply do not do it justice. Luckily, the hike isn’t too difficult, which makes it a good fit for family members of different fitness levels and ages. Nevertheless, because some parts of the trail do level off onto precipitous slopes and the area’s summer temperatures can be high, it is important to keep your children with you at all times. If the idea of that makes you uncomfortable, the hike may be better suited for when your children are a little older. If anything, make sure you bring a camera because you’re going to want this iconic family photo.
Stewart Falls is so classic, you wonder if you can live in Utah Valley not having relished in its splendor. Located near Robert Redford’s Sundance Mountain Resort, the trail leads you to a two-tier waterfall that is over 200 feet-tall. Spots of vibrant yellow snapdragons coupled with the waterfall’s calming mist give this hike an unmistakable sense of magic. Children can play in the fresh streams, families can picnic to the side, and nature can do what it does best: instill a sense of peace in our hearts. The best time for this hike is summer into early fall—come mid-September, the area’s quaking aspens will turn a shocking yellow that will take your breath away. If you want more time to appreciate the area’s beauty, there are also various extensions of the shorter trail.
Just outside of Zion National Park, Kanarra Creek Canyon is an easy slot canyon hike that leads to another scenic waterfall. Utah is famous for its slot canyons, but most of them are less than ideal for families. And although this hike does have some difficult spots if you continue beyond the falls, the initial loop is just 3.5 miles in total and does not require any special equipment. Because southern Utah is hotter than the northern Utah mountains, remaining snow piles typically won’t inhibit hiking this trail as early as March or April. If you do choose to do this hike in the summer, soaring temperatures are tempered by walking through ankle-deep water at certain parts of the canyon. That said, outdoor sandals and water-shoes are necessary for this hike, unless you want to be lugging around soggy hiking boots.
Although the name would make you think this hike is a secret, it happens to be one of Utah’s most popular. But Cecret Lake’s real secret? This hike always delivers a wow factor, no matter how many times you’ve done it. An easy 1.5 miles roundtrip, this hike is perfect for children, not just because it’s short, but because it is a hot spot for wildlife. It’s not rare that morning hikers spot a moose near the lake, and you can bet you’ll at least see some deer or squirrels. The freshwater lake is also surrounded by brightly colored wildflowers that make for a truly alpine experience. And even though swimming is not permitted in the lake, the hike is quick enough that you can get back to the valley in time to adequately quench your post-hike craving for ice water or a jump in the pool.