Best Hikes Near Salt Lake City

Discover everything from alpine lakes to a mountain-top living room made of stone on these eight hikes near Salt Lake City.

Perhaps most famously known for skiing, Salt Lake City and the Wasatch Front also boast a plethora of hiking trails. With everything from easy summit hikes on the edge of town to rugged adventures in the canyons and mountains beyond, there are more than enough trails to keep everyone entertained. Though many of these hikes can be done year-round (especially if you’re practiced in winter travel and avalanche awareness), the best time to explore is in early summer or autumn, when you can enjoy wildflowers or changing leaves.

Ensign Peak Trail

  • Location: 2.5 miles north of downtown Salt Lake City
  • Length: 1.0-mile out-and-back
  • Difficulty Rating: Easy/intermediate
  • Best For: A quick hike on the edge of town
  • Dogs: Leashed

Just minutes from downtown Salt Lake City, this hike is great for urbanites looking to get out for a stroll. The trail begins on the edge of a residential area, and though it’s a little steep at times, the route is well-maintained with city views almost the entire way up. At the top, you’ll find an 18-foot-tall stone monument dedicated to the Mormon pioneers, but it’s the viewing platform that will make you want to stay and watch the sun set over the valley below. 

Fifth Water Hot Springs

  • Location: 20.4 miles southeast of Mapleton
  • Length: 4.5-mile out-and-back
  • Difficulty Rating: Easy/intermediate
  • Best For: A mellow hike to a popular hot spring
  • Dogs: Leashed; courtesy would dictate not letting your dog swim in the pools

Though the hike is pleasant in its own right, the numerous hot springs along the last mile of trail are the main draw. Take your time soaking in the many built-up pools, which vary in size, temperature and even color, ranging from clear to milky blue. The trail ends at a cold waterfall that plunges into the warm water. While technically illegal, nudity does happen at the springs, so keep that in mind as you plan you trek.

Cecret Lake Interpretive Trail

  • Location: 2.2 miles southeast of Alta
  • Length: 1.6-mile out-and-back
  • Difficulty Rating: Intermediate
  • Best For: A short hike to a beautiful alpine lake
  • Dogs: No dogs

It seems impossible that you could reach such a beautiful spot in such a short distance. But just because the hike to Cecret Lake (pronounced like secret) is quick, there’s no need to rush it. The grade is manageable, the high elevation keeps things cooler than the Salt Lake Valley below and the interpretive signs that line the route mean you and the kids are sure to learn something along the way. Of course, you may forget everything you learned once the beautiful high alpine lake comes into view.

The Living Room

  • Location: 4.2 miles east of downtown Salt Lake City
  • Length: 2.4-mile out-and-back
  • Difficulty Rating: Intermediate
  • Best For: A popular hike to a unique overlook
  • Dogs: Leashed

There’s a good reason why The Living Room is one of the busiest hikes near Salt Lake City. Over the years, hikers have used the area’s flat rocks to build all types of “furniture,” including the couches, footstools and chairs which give the lookout its iconic name. Bring a snack and a headlamp for the return trip and settle into a cozy rock chair to watch the sunset. (Keep in mind that though this is an established practice at this overlook, making new rock furniture is not LNT, so respect the area by leaving it as you came.)

Brighton Lakes to Sunset Peak

  • Location: Brighton on the south end of Brighton Loop Road
  • Length: 6.1-mile out-and-back
  • Difficulty Rating: Intermediate/difficult
  • Best For: Flexible milage and stunning views
  • Dogs: No dogs

This route takes you to one of the most beautiful sights in the Wasatch area, but since it’s in the alpine, you’ll need to be prepared for changing conditions. Although the goal is to top out on Sunset Peak to enjoy the panoramic views of the Brighton Lakes and the valley below, if you aren’t up for the distance, shorten the trek by turning back at the lakes. Don’t worry about missing out. After enjoying a relaxing afternoon by the water, you won’t care about tagging the summit. Just remember, swimming is not allowed to protect the watershed.

Lake Blanche Trail

  • Location: 6.2 miles east of Cottonwood Heights
  • Length: 7.0-mile out-and-back
  • Difficulty Rating: Intermediate/difficult
  • Best For: A more challenging hike to a gem of a lake
  • Dogs: No dogs

While you can tackle this hike in a day, Lake Blanche is a wonderful place to camp and do some stargazing. Although the trail up the canyon is densely forested, it opens up on occasion offering viewpoints along the way. When you pop out into the basin, you’ll be greeted by rocky peaks above and Lake Blanche nestled at their base. The scenery here is even more stunning in autumn when the aspens are changing. If you do spend the night, make time to scramble up a nearby peak and explore the other lakes in the basin.

Mount Olympus Trail

  • Location: 3.1 miles south of Holladay
  • Length: 6.7-mile out-and-back
  • Difficulty Rating: Difficult
  • Best For: A strenuous but iconic summit hike
  • Dogs: Leashed

You’ll earn some bragging rights for completing the hike up Mount Olympus. There’s no warm-up leading into the 4,000-plus-foot ascent. But while it’s steep, the route is never too difficult, with just a minor bit of scrambling at the very top, meaning it’s a great option for blooming mountaineers, especially in summer and early fall if you want an escape from the heat. If you find yourself at an exposed section, you’re likely off course and should backtrack.

Mount Timpanogos Loop

  • Location: 11.9 miles east of Cedar Hills
  • Length: 14.9-mile lollipop loop
  • Difficulty Rating: Difficult
  • Best For: A long day-hike in the Wasatch
  • Dogs: Leashed

With everything from canyons, open meadows, waterfalls, alpine lakes, steep rocky ascents, a technical snowfield crossing and the occasional mountain goat, you’ll need to come prepared for this hike. And if an adventure as promising as that isn’t enough to make you want to tackle this one, the breathtaking 360-degree view from 11,757-foot tall Mount Timpanogos surely will. Take your time crossing the snowfield on the descent. (It’s dangerous and not recommended unless you have the knowledge and skills to tackle it. If you don’t, head back the way you came.) A break for lunch at Emerald Lake is a great idea before continuing down the canyon.

No Comments