I live surrounded by secrets. Secret spots. Secret trails. Secret views. Secret rock art panels. Secret canyons. These are places known to some who cherish them with a fierce devotion and a protectiveness that borders on obsessive. Southern Utah adventurers tend to feel that way, since so many destinations here that once used to be little-known and even less-visited have been exposed to the world at large, often to their detriment in terms of overall impact and eventual management. The Internet is a wonderful thing. It’s also the biggest gossip in the world, complete with GPS coordinates and photos that extol the local virtues that lure more people to rush to it.
Drumroll, please… presenting 100 Classic Hikes Utah! It’s been several years in the making, and now it’s live and in color! I’m very excited about this book. Feedback is already coming in, and it’s been great so far.
This book was a lot of work, great adventure, beautiful places, and the product of my literal blood, sweat, and tears. And it’s out now!
I hiked my heinie off for this book, agonized over the hike choices up until the very last minute, conferred with many people over favorite/best/most awesomest trails in the state, and found many new-to-me places for it. You can find the book now at all the major online retailers, and it’s making its way into bricks-and-mortar bookstores as well.
The Willis Creek Narrows in the vast Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument are reasonably easy to get to (emphasis on the word “reasonably”) on the Skutumpah road, definitely easy to find, and super cool to hike through. Water curved and carved its way through here for a very long time, creating the beauty you see. Not the place to hang out during a good rainstorm, but sure as hell pretty to visit.
Be sure to check on road conditions at the BLM office in Cannonville before you head out. And watch the uphills and downhills once you get on the dirt road. Some of the corners are impossible to see around, so drive like you value both your life and those of others. Most of all, enjoy the heck out of this very cool little hike.
I admit I’d hardly gone more than a few miles into the Uintas, and those miles were by vehicle, before I began writing the 100 Classic Hikes in Utah book. Well, call me a changed woman now. The Uintas are amazing, and I’ve got to make more time to explore them in my life. I’ve still barely explored them, because the area is enormous and requires a lifetime of adventuring to see every part of them. If you haven’t been to Uintas ever, or hardly ever, get thee hence. Lakes, mountaintops, iconic trails, wildlife, wildflowers, wild views. It’s all there.
Best part? The Uintas are a designated wilderness area, which means federally protected. Yep, that means no go, all you gas and oil drillers. Shoo. This place is for its wild inhabitants and for nondestructive (well, as nondestructive as possible) human enjoyment. Hike, camp, recreate, play. I can’t wait to get back out there.
Fisher Towers outside of climbing mecca Moab are a beacon for those who like to hitch themselves up to ropes and carabiners and scale just about anything vertical. Don’t climb? Don’t worry. You can hike the trail that winds beneath and around these spectacular examples of the Cutler formation of sandstone, which resulted in the quite photogenic epitaphs to natural desert beauty rearing skyward.
Spring or summer will get you those deep blue skies for the best color pop in your pics, but be prepared for hot temps. I’d advise an early start, or at least plenty of pacing. There’s almost no shade along the way, unless you tuck yourself into a trailside rock alcove like a lizard seeking to escape the sun’s reach. Although the area is hardly a secret, the crowds here will be far less than those you’ll encounter on just about any trail at the nearby national parks. Solitude…ah, what a feeling.
The Pfeifferhorn in the Wasatch mountains allows sweeping views right above Salt Lake City. Yet make no damn mistake about it: this is a backcountry wilderness hike any way you slice it. The trail goes up–and up and up–and it’s really more route-finding the closer you get to your destination. But if you can hack it, this is a fantastic peak to tuck onto your bucket list.
Bonus: if you take the Red Pine Lake trail to it, you also get to see a super sweet alpine lake. Summer is, as usual, a fine time to visit, though you might have to steer clear of thunderstorms. Those with any fear of heights need not apply.
Red Pine Lake is a pretty nice roadside attraction to check out along the way.
Logan Canyon in northern Utah holds a mountain paradise of trails, lakes, forests, trees, and beauty. Tony Grove, Naomi Peak, White Pine Lake–all beckon the hiker to explore this lesser-known area. As usual, right by the trailheads and parking areas you can be elbow-deep with other people. Just strike out along the trail into the backcountry, though, and get away from some of the madding crowds.
Summer is the time to visit for wildflowers, abundant greenery, and pleasant temperatures. I’d love to come back here in the fall someday, though. I bet there’s a veritable explosion of golds and reds on all the deciduous trees.