It would be easy to miss Moonshine Arch as you are leaving Vernal on Highway 191. Less than a mile north of the entrance to the Steinaker State Park, you will find an unmarked dirt road to the left. Take a left on this road and travel for approximately a half of a mile to turn on a wide dirt road. (Links to maps are included below). The arch rises 40 feet above the ground, and is 85 feet long, but is hidden from view by the surrounding landscape until you are in front of it. It is worth your time to search for it. The arch is accessible by jeep, ATV or by an easy hike.
If you don’t have a high clearance vehicle, it is recommended that you park in the area outside of the green gate. The majority of the trail is sand, and slick rock. The arch is approximately one mile from the green gate.
It is a pleasant walk with a variety of plants and flowers along the trail, and with great views. When you reach the arch, you will find caverns which would be a great place to enjoy a picnic in the shade. Dogs are permitted, but be careful in hot weather to ensure the sand and slick rock is not too hot for their paws.
I would recommend hiking during the early morning or early evening to avoid the hot sun during the day. Be sure to wear a hat, and to bring plenty of water.
There are no fees to access. You can find directions for the trail at these sites.
Other interesting hikes:
Fall is the ideal time to hike the Wind Cave Trail to see the colorful foliage. Driving approximately 5 miles up the Logan Canyon National Scenic Byway, you will find the Wind Cave trailhead across the road from the Guinavah-Malibu Campground.
The Wind Cave is composed of a group of natural limestone arches and hollows. It was formed as water seeped through cracks in layers of underground limestone, creating caverns. Downward cutting from the Logan River exposed the caves, and the arches were created by water continuing to erode the limestone.
The trail is rated moderate with an elevation gain of approximately 1000 feet. It is 3.5 miles round trip. The elevation gain does not appear as steep due to switchbacks. The trail is well maintained and is clearly marked. If there is an unmarked trail that leads off, stick with the wider trail.
There is shade for the first half of the trail; however the last half does not have shade. It is advisable to dress in layers, wear a hat and protection from the sun. Be sure to bring plenty of water.
The trail is heavily trafficked at times, particularly during the weekends. If you prefer to hike when less people are on the trail, weekdays are a good option. Dogs on leashes are permitted.
The end of the trail leads to the top of the cave. If you have children with you, be sure to watch them carefully as there are steep drop-offs. You can climb down into the cave and explore the alcoves. It is a great place to rest in the shade of the cave and take photos of the gorgeous views.
Other interesting hikes:
Smokey skies from the wildfires did not discourage the volunteers who came out to clean up Antelope Island State Park on a very hot, windy day. A second group of volunteers met at the Great Salt Lake Marina State Park as part of the International Coastal Clean-Up Day.
For thirty-three years, the Ocean Conservancy has been organizing volunteers to clean up litter along their coastline. Volunteers throughout the U.S. and more than 100 countries join efforts to clean up beaches, waterways and oceans. In 2017, over 20 million pounds of trash (majority of it plastic) was picked up during the International Coastal Clean-Up Day.
Friends of Great Salt Lake organized Utah volunteers at two locations along the Great Salt Lake. Five million migrating birds representing 257 species will stop at the Great Salt Lake every year. Migratory birds are not only aesthetically beneficial to humans but have a vital role in the biodiversity for all ecosystems. They help pollinate, disperse seeds and regulate pests.
The effects from littering can have detrimental affects on birds. Discarded and rotting food can attract predators. Rats and feral cats attracted by food waste may also prey on the birds and/or their nests. Litter may lead to habitat loss, with fewer resources for nesting, feeding and shelter. Glass, plastic, fishing line and kite string can cause injuries to birds’ wings, legs, feet, or throats if entangled in them. Birds may mistake pieces of litter as food, and can suffer from digestive blockage or poisoning. Also, oil or grease could cause plumage disruption which would affect their ability to maintain proper insulation and easy flight.
Some people may believe that cleaning up the litter is an endless battle and that their effort really wouldn’t make a difference. However, just as every piece of litter that is carelessly discarded matters, the same goes for every piece of litter that is eliminated.
The Antelope Island clean-up focused on an area where shooters have been using discarded toys and electronic devices for target practice. Most electronics contain toxic materials including lead, nickel, zinc, and chromium. When released into the environment it can cause health problems to humans. Toxic materials can also seep into the groundwater affecting animals on land and in water.
The use of ammunition containing lead is discouraged. Accumulation of lead from ammunition on the lakebed will have a health impact on waterfowl.
Collected litter was weighed. Metal and toxic debris were separated from the paper, cardboard, plastic bottles and aluminum cans for proper disposal.
Within two hours, the combine efforts of hardworking volunteers were able to clear out 1000 pounds of litter.
“You are not a drop in the ocean. You are an entire ocean in a drop.” – Rumi
Festivities to educate, explore, restore, and enjoy the Jordan River and Jordan River Parkway are scheduled throughout the month of September during the annual “Get into the River Festival”. The Jordan River flows for fifty miles through sixteen cities in three counties.
Cities along the river are hosting events such as a Pancake Breakfast/ Puncturevines Pull, canoe and kayak float, riding the river trail with the Mayor, and a Children’s Beatles Tribute Choir. Although some of these activities have already taken place, there are many more fun events still to come. Check the schedule for information on activities.
There are additional opportunities scheduled for later this month to learn about the flora and fauna; plant trees and seeds, bird watch, listen to live music, play lawn games, mud volley ball, Ducky Derby Dash or enjoy a root beer float.
Each month, approximately 15,000 people utilize the Jordan River Parkway each month for walking, running, skating, cycling and horseback riding.
Although the festival events are scheduled only during September, the Jordan River and trails are enjoyable year round.
If volunteering as an individual or with a group to help with planting, weed pulling, or picking up trash to help maintain the Jordan River is of interest to you, (typically needed between April and October) check with Jordan River Commission for upcoming opportunities.
Cascade Springs, accessed from the Alpine Scenic Loop drive, offers an easy stroll alongside of cascading springs through limestone terraces. The lower trail at Cascade Springs is wheel chair accessible; the paved paths, wooden bridges and raised boardwalks make it easy to navigate with strollers, young children or anyone with limited abilities. The higher trail does include stairs which may hinder access to some. There are three interconnected trail loops; each would take approximately 15 minutes to walk.
It is a beautiful nature walk with a diverse ecosystem and interpretive signs identify some of the species of plants, trees and wildlife in the area. Take a seat on one of the benches and take in the sound of the water flowing. Over seven million gallons of water flow through the springs each day. The pools contain trout and you may see them swimming among the reeds, but fishing is not permitted. A variety of birds and mammals may be spotted, including songbirds, hawks, wild turkeys, beavers, deer and moose.
To see an abundance of flowers it is best to visit Cascade Springs between June and September. Fall colors from Aspen, Oak and Maple trees are best seen during September and October. The road to the trail will be closed during winter months due to snow.
How to get there:
Take the Highland/Alpine exit (Exit 284) from I-15. Travel east on State Route 92 to the Forest Service entrance station (approximately 8 miles). Cascade Springs is part of the Uinta National Forest and a fee is required to park in the American Fork Canyon. At the present time, a three day pass is $6. Weekly or annual passes are also available. They also accept the America the Beautiful Interagency Parks Pass.
Continue up American Fork Canyon on SR-92 (Alpine Loop Scenic Byway) for approximately 17 miles until you reach the Cascade Scenic Drive. The road to Cascade Springs goes left after you reach the summit. The Alpine Scenic Loop road is very narrow with switch backs that are very tight. Parking is available at the upper and lower trailheads.
Restrooms and drinking water is available. Dogs on leashes are permitted.
Other interesting hikes:
The Living Room Hiking Trail offers a short, but challenging hike for beautiful views overlooking Salt Lake City. The trail is approximately 2.5 miles roundtrip. The elevation at the start of the trailhead is 5,000 feet with an elevation gain of 967 feet. Dogs are permitted on this trail.
How to get there
From Foothill Drive, turn right onto Wakara Way and then right on to Colorow Road. The trailhead is on the east side of the street. Parking is available on both sides of the street.
Trailhead coordinates: 40.759301, – 111.8211300
Living Room coordinates: 40.763196, – 111.811905
The start of the trail offers some shade, but most of the trail does not. Be prepared to bring a hat, protection from the sun and plenty of water. I also recommend using hiking poles, not only because it is easier on your joints when you are walking; but they can also be used as a splint or crutches in an emergency.
There are multiple hiking and biking trails that split off which can be confusing for some people who are looking for the Living Room Trail. When you see the pipeline marker 174, you are heading towards George’s Hollow be sure to continue east (towards the mountain). When you reach the wooden post (photo is taken facing west) you will see two paths. Take the path on the right and continue heading east.
The trail varies from dirt, gravel to rocky areas.
The Living Room is a great spot to relax, eat a snack and take in the view of the city.
At this point, most people make the return trip back. However, if you would like a longer adventure there are many other trails to explore.
You may want to consider beginning your hike an hour before sunset for a stunning view. Be sure to bring a headlamp or flashlight if you will be hiking down after sunset. You may want to hike the trail during different seasons for a great display of wildflowers or fall colors.
Other interesting hikes:
White Pine, Red Pine Lake and the Maybird Gulch Trail each start at the same trailhead. The Maybird Gulch Trail is the path that is least travelled, but offers solitude along with stunning scenery. No fees or permits are required. It is a watershed area and no dogs are permitted. The hike is best during the summer and fall, as snow will be in the higher elevation into mid-June.
The trail is a dirt path with rocks and has an elevation gain of approximately 2,000 ft. It is excellent hike for birding, photography, wildflowers, wildlife and to see fall colors. Aspen and evergreen trees offers some shade, but be sure to bring plenty of water and wear clothing that will offer protection from the sun. There are three small lakes, but no wading or swimming is permitted in the watershed lakes.
How to get there
Drive up Little Cottonwood Canyon for 5 ½ miles. The turnoff is on the south side of the road right after the “White Pine Slide Area” sign. There is a restroom at the beginning of the trailhead. A quaint footbridge gets you across the Little Cottonwood Creek. The trail gradually climbs to follow an old four wheel drive road, which is now closed to motorized vehicles. The old road is now a wide trail and after about a half-hour from Cottonwood Creek the trail splits and takes a sharp left to the White Pine drainage. Take the right trail west toward the Red Pine drainage, as the trail climbs a bit south before crossing the wood bridge over the stream.
The trail then gradually climbs as it traverses west and you enter the Lone Peak Wilderness area, offering some marvelous vistas of the Salt Lake valley to the west. The trail then steepens and finally reaches the Maybird Gulch turnoff to the right where the trail converges with the Red Pine stream, and you there’s a small bridge to the right which takes you to the Maybird Gulch trail. If you happen to miss the bridge and get to the mine tailings just above the junction, just head back a few minutes and you’ll find the bridge.
You will enjoy the solitude of the Maybird Gulch trail, it’s easy to follow as it winds its way to the west and south into the Maybird Gulch drainage. You will start to hear the birds and notice the abundance of wildflowers. When you get to the lakes, you will have stunning views of the Pfeifferhorn, which is the fifth highest peak in the Wasatch Range at 11,325 feet.
Other interesting hikes:
The Historic Union Pacific Rail Trail offers 27.7 miles of recreational fun for mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding, wildlife viewing and cross-country skiing. The majority of the trail is gravel. There is a 3 mile section in Park City, and a half mile section in Wanship that is paved asphalt.
Over 100 years ago, the Echo-Park City Railway transported coal and silver ore. In 1989, the Union Pacific abandoned the railroad line. The railroad line was transformed into the first non-motorized rail trail in Utah. The Historic Union Pacific Rail Trail State Park was opened to the public in 1992.
The trail begins at an approximate elevation of 6,900 feet in Park City and gradually descends to 5,280 feet. If you are biking, be sure to bring an extra tube and a tire repair kit with you. Having a fully charged cell phone is not just for photos but also is important in case of emergencies. Be sure to use sunscreen and wear clothing to protect you from the sun, and bring plenty of water with you. There are several vault toilets along the trail.
Portions of the trail are adjacent to private property and you will encounter gates to open and shut to keep animals contained. Be sure to remain on the trail and be respectful of their property.
The landscape transitions from volcanic canyon to wetlands and farms. Some of the wildlife you may encounter includes, fox, bald eagles, moose, deer, rabbits, and beavers. You may want to bring binoculars with you.
Echo Reservoir has recreational boating and fishing and is the perfect place to rest for a picnic and swim before making your return trip back to Park City. If making the roundtrip loop is more than you would like to do, an alternative would be to have someone drop off the trail users and to meet them at Echo Reservoir. See the map for entry points to the trail for additional options.
The Jordan River Parkway is an urban park with a network of non-motorized trails that runs along the Jordan River. The Jordan River flows north from Utah Lake to the Great Salt Lake wetlands, through Utah, Salt Lake and Davis counties. The concept for the Jordan River Parkway was developed in the 1970’s to address flood-control, but also included opportunities for recreational use.
The mixed-use trail is used by bicyclists, runners, skaters and walkers. There is also a separate equestrian trail. Dogs are permitted on-leash. Picnic areas as well as playgrounds can be found at various points along the trail. With the beautiful backdrop, it is not unusual to come across artists sketching or painting the scenery. Whether you prefer early morning, day time, or evening use, it is a perfect way to relax in nature without leaving the city. There is no charge for day use or parking.
For some people, the Jordan River Parkway is a perfect place to relax and catch dinner. If you are fishing in the Jordan River, be sure to follow the general statewide regulations.
Hundreds of species of plants and animals can be found along the Jordan River Parkway’s ecosystem. It is the perfect place for birding. These are some of the birds that can be commonly found at the Jordan River Parkway. In addition, you may see a variety of reptiles, amphibians and mammals.
In November, 2017 a 120-foot arch bridge over rail yards was completed to enable existing trails to be connected, providing more than 100 miles of continuous off-street paved trail for bikers and other outdoor enthusiasts. It doesn’t matter at what point you enter the trail, or the path that you take, you are sure to find a fun time.
The Salt Lake area is a great place to live or visit if you enjoy access to a variety of urban activities, but it also offers easy access to some wonderful hikes, if you want to get away from the fast-paced city life, grab your hiking shoes from the closet and take a break to rejuvenate yourself and de-stress by getting out in nature as well as benefit from a bit of exercise. Even a 10-minute walk in some of the city parks can be helpful, but if you’re more ambitious and have more time, here are some of my favorite Millcreek area hikes
Grandeur Peak – This is a moderate hike – a 8,299 foot summit, that is dog friendly, and can take from about 3 to 4 hours. You can start from either the Church Fork trailhead in Millcreek Canyon, or take the more direct (steeper) route from the west. If you go up Millcreek Canyon, they charge a $3.00 fee when you leave the canyon, to help maintain the canyon’s facilities. The western route is great if you’re time is limited. You can take your dog with you, but they recently are asking for dogs to be leashed from the west. In Millcreek Canyon, dogs can be off leash on odd-numbered days and since you’re starting at a higher altitude, the hike is easier and not quite as steep. Grandeur is one of my favorites when I am looking for a quick getaway. https://utah.com/hiking/grandeur-peak
Mount Olympus – is an easily accessed dog-friendly trail from Wasatch Boulevard that offers some spectacular views of the Great Salt Lake and the Salt Lake area. This hike would be a step above the Grandeur hike, the summit is 9,030 feet, and although there’s a moderate trail for the first third of the way, the trail does get somewhat steeper after crossing the creek. When you reach the point where the trail goes through the forested area just above the switchbacks, you are on your way to the upper ridge. From the upper ridge, you follow the trail north to some rock scrambling along the trail to the peak. There are some sections that you may have to help your dog get up the rocks. https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/utah/mount-olympus-trail
Pipeline Trail – if you’re looking for a relatively easy flat hike that is accessed in Millcreek Canyon. It is a popular hike for runners, bikers, and dog walkers and offers some nice views. Bikes are allowed on the trail every day but on the upper Millcreek trails they are only allowed on even-numbered days. Dogs can be off-leash on odd numbered days. The trail can be accessed from several trailheads – I usually start from just above and across from the Porter Fork trail. If you are ambitious enough to hike all the way (about 6 miles) to the western end there are some nice views of the Salt Lake valley. https://www.trailrunproject.com/trail/7002438/pipeline-trail-burch-hollow-millcreek-canyon.
Salt Lake Overlook Trail – Is about a 4½ mile out and back easy to moderate Millcreek Canyon trail that is shaded for most of the hike and is also a dog-friendly trail. You will begin the hike at the trailhead next to the Mill Creek Inn and you will be taking the Desolation Trail. There are some nice views when you get to the rock outcroppings at the end of the hike. You won’t see as many people on this trail as on the Pipeline Trail. https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/utah/desolation-trail-to-salt-lake-overlook
Mount Aire – this moderate hike is a little over 3½ miles out and back from the Elbow Fork trailhead in Millcreek Canyon. However, in the winter, the road is closed at the Maple Grove picnic area and the hike would be about 7 miles out and back. From the peak at 8,621 feet, you can enjoy some great views of Millcreek Canyon, as well as Parleys Canyon and the Salt Lake Valley. This would also be a great snowshoe hike in the winter that is safe from avalanches.
Dog Lake & Desolation Lake – A 5 mile out and back trail to Dog Lake is accessed from the upper parking area at the end of the Millcreek Canyon road. Dogs are allowed on the trail on odd days and bikes are allowed on even days to Dog Lake, but if you go all the way to Lake Desolation, dogs are not allowed. The trail is heavily used in the summer months, but is really peaceful in the winter for cross country skiing. However, in the winter, it is much longer because the Mill Creek road is closed at Maple Grove. The lakes can also be accessed from about 9 miles up Big Cottonwood Canyon at the Mill D North Fork trail. https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/utah/dog-lake-trail
Alexander Basin & Gobblers Knob – Gobblers Knob, at 10,246 feet, is the highest summit on the ridge dividing Big Cottonwood Canyon and Millcreek Canyon. It can be accessed from either canyon, but I usually go by way of the Alexander Basin trail, where the trailhead is about 8½ miles up Millcreek Canyon road. Again, the road is closed in the winter so it’s easiest accessed in the summer months. It is another moderate hike to Alexander Basis where there are some great wildflowers, and a resident moose that likes to hang around the area. If you like great views of the Wasatch Mountains, go up from the basin to Gobblers Knob and from there you can hike west along the ridge to Mt. Raymond. https://www.summitpost.org/gobblers-knob/152266