When your kids start pestering you about being bored this summer, just tell them to take a hike. Then pack some Kind bars, water bottles and bug spray, and get everyone in the CR-V for a little trip. Once you reach the trailhead, your dad joke will finally click. With longer days and sunnier weather, now is a great time to start hitting local hiking trails with the family. Here are some of our favorite kid-friendly hikes in the Wasatch this summer.
The Trail: While a bit of a climb for kids just starting out, it’s a short trail — 0.8 miles — and offers plenty of opportunity to rest and look out toward the city below along the way. You’ll see a mixed crowd on your way up (teens hanging out before the prom, moms pushing off-road strollers, marathon trainers, hipsters with their dogs) and historical markers explaining the trail’s historical significance, particularly for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. You can see the pillar at the peak from miles away. Once there, you’ll have one of the best views of the Salt Lake Valley. Getting There: Head north on State Street in Salt Lake City, turn right onto 300 North, turn left on Edgecombe Drive, look for the trailhead on your left and park across the street. Take Note: It’s a short hike, but you’ll want to hang at the top for a while. Bring snacks.
The Trail: You can make this a long hike, leading to nearby foothills, or shorten it for a fun, relatively flat, stroll with the family. For the latter, you have several options for your starting point. Personally, we like to eat lunch at the gazebo in Ezra T. Clark Park before taking the park’s short, shaded creek-side path and crossing the street to the trail that runs past Lagoon’s campgrounds. Stay on that path, and you’ll eventually see signs dubbing it “Lagoon Trail.” Don’t worry; you’re in the right place. You’ll hear screams from Colossus and pass Lagoon’s zoo (yeah, we know). You’ll also see horses on private properties. Once the “Lagoon Trail” ends, make a left on 200 West and notice where the Farmington Creek Trail continues across the street. This quaint, shaded path crosses the street again at 600 North, and eventually leads to the duck-filled Farmington Pond. Getting There: Set your GPS for Ezra T. Clark Park on 400 West (just north of State Street and across from Lagoon) in Farmington. Take Note: Catfish are biting in Farmington Pond.
The Trail: It’s a pretty sweet payoff for only a .6-mile out-and-back, the trail is easy on smaller legs, and it’s located along the Nebo Loop Scenic Drive, best known for its fall colors, but still stunning in summer. The trail ends with a show-stopping 20-foot waterfall and an open-ceiling cave that are perfect for Instagram. Dogs allowed. Getting There: From Salt Lake, take I-15 South to exit 250, turn left onto Main Street, turn left onto 100 North, turn right onto 600 East, follow the road to Payson Canyon and the Nebo Scenic Loop. You’ll see the trailhead about seven miles up the loop on your left. Take Note: Nebo Loop closes in the winter and usually opens to traffic on Memorial Day, depending on weather conditions. The trail can get muddy, prep accordingly.
Suicide Rock/Parley’s Historic Nature Park
The Trail: It’s an easy trail with fun payoffs, filled with dogs. Stay left as you head into the canyon, and you’ll come to a shared biking/hiking trail with historical markers, including one for a wine cellar dating back to 1870. Keep heading east, and you’ll reach one of the major spots dogs go to splash. (Bring yours if it plays nice with others.) Once there, look left for Parley’s Trail, which goes over I-215 and connects to a trail offering an overhead look at the heavily spray-painted, yet oddly majestic, Suicide Rock, which clearly states “Sigma Chi rules!” Watch for bikes. Getting There: Park across the street or at Tanner Park, 2760 S. 2700 East, Salt Lake City, and walk up the hill for a minute or two. You’ll see the trailhead on your left. Take Note: Watch out for poop! Luckily, most dog owners are responsible… most.
The Trail: This trail starts at a park, complete with slides and monkey bars, but don’t let your kids wear themselves out just yet. Toward the back of the park, you’ll see the trailhead that leads to a 2 ½-mile loop that offers a subtle climb and lookout point with a bench to chill out at the end, offering a stunning picture of the valley below. The trail includes maps along the way and much-needed shade during hotter months. Dogs welcome. Getting There: Set your GPS for Wild Rose Trailhead Park, North Salt Lake. The trailhead is on the east side of the park. Don’t be surprised if there’s a wedding taking place. Take Note: While we haven’t seen an actual wild rose here, summer wildflowers are on point.
Albion Basin/Cecret Lake
The Trail: You know this one, right? While the trail to Cecret Lake isn’t so secret, there’s a reason it’s such a popular summer hiking spot. Albion Basin, where you’ll start your hike, is famous for its stunning array of wildflowers (mid-August is your best bet). On the short trail to the lake (1.7 miles), you’ll likely see moose. At the lake itself, take your time to travel the perimeter and have your camera ready — it doesn’t have a bad side. Getting There: Alta will limit car access to Albion Basin this summer. We recommend taking Little Cottonwood Canyon Road to the Wildcat Base Area in Alta and parking there. Then walk to Albion Basin or hop on one of the shuttles. Get the details here. Take Note: Unlike the rest of the hikes we mentioned, no dogs allowed.