Oh, the Places You’ll Go! 6 Essential Utah Hikes

To truly Understand the beauty of the place we call home you need to get out onto a trail. From the scenic alpine wonders of the Wasatch Front and Back to the otherworldly landscapes of Southern Utah’s Red Rock desert, the Utah landscape captures the imagination like no other place on Earth. Utahns are fortunate to have many public lands within our borders which include National Parks and National Monuments, the Bureau of Land Management, Forest Service lands and wilderness areas. The through line here is that Utah is full of well-managed and well-marked trails that allow both beginners and experts to get into a wide range of terrain and solitude. As always, know before you go, bring plenty of water and, please, pick up after yourself. Enjoy these six essential Utah hikes!

1. The Great Chamber (Cutler Point)


More of a drive than a hike (unless you are up for a 17-mile exposed slog) so you’ll need a 4WD and experience driving in soft sand. How ever you get there, the reward is one of the most beautiful sights in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

2. Grand Wash + Cassidy Arch

Capitol Reef National Park

Capitol Reef National Park is not easily appreciated from the road. You need to get into it. Grand Wash is a good way in. Take an easy stroll below the towering walls above the Cassidy Arch Trail. A stern climb that is rewarded with a top-down view of one of  Utah’s most magnificent arches.

3. Bonneville Shoreline Trail

Salt Lake and Davis County 

Essential Utah Hikes
Bonneville Shoreline Trail. Photo courtesy of Discover Davis County

A Wasatch Front treasure, the shoreline trail runs along the “bathtub ring” of ancient Lake Bonneville in the foothills  from North Salt Lake  to Parley’s Canyon (pictured here above Davis County). It’s a trail runner’s and hiker’s dream for both short and long excursions with rewarding views.

4. Catherine’s Pass  

Little Cottonwood Canyon 

Starting above Albion Basin, near Alta Ski Resort and connecting Little to Big Cottonwood Canyon, offers better views than the popular Cecret Lake Trail. Best during summer, this trail is ideal for peeping the wildflowers in late June and July. You also may encounter wildlife including moose.

Essential Utah Hikes
Catherine’s Pass. Photo courtesy of Jay Dash / Utah Office of Tourism

5. Fisher Towers


This red rock ramble from the banks of the Colorado River outside of Moab is rewarded with the journey through the Martian landscape of Southern Utah—a maze of fins, pinnacles and bizarre formations­—and the destination beneath the towering spires that are Fisher Towers. 

6. Antelope Island

Antelope Island State Park 

To truly experience The Great Salt Lake, there is no better vantage for observation than from the western shoreline trail on Antelope Island. The island hides the city lights of the Wasatch Front behind you and offers an otherworldly view of the ancient salty sea stretching out to the horizon. 

Essential Utah Hikes
Antelope Island. Photo courtesy of Discover Davis County

The Gear 

Hiking in Utah really only requires good sturdy hiking shoes and water. But being comfortable hiking in Utah is another thing. Here’s some picks to make the trail easier. 

Kühl’s Renegade Rock hiking pants look good but more importantly they are tough, really tough. A lighter version of Kühls soft shell winter models, these pants are built to move, dry quickly and can survive scraping scrambles through narrow slot canyons. $99, kuhl.com

Spring hiking means carrying a variety of layers for variable conditions. The Kühl Eskape 20 liter is the ‘goldilocks’ of hiking packs. Not too big to slow you down but roomy enough for water, snacks and peeling layers. $249, kuhl.com

Rheos’ Lanier navigator and Stono shades are stylish, yes, but also durable—built to survive throwing into the top of your pack and the inevitable drops onto the trail. Plus they float! $65, rheosgear.com

Jeremy Pugh
Jeremy Pughhttps://www.saltlakemagazine.com/
Jeremy Pugh is Salt Lake magazine's Editor. He covers culture, history, the outdoors and whatever needs a look. Jeremy is also the author of the book "100 Things to Do in Salt Lake City Before You Die" and the co-author of the history, culture and urban legend guidebook "Secret Salt Lake."

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