Monday, July 27, 2020

9 Awesome Bike Trails to try in Utah Valley

9 Awesome Bike Trails to try in Utah Valley

Biking trails are not scarce in Utah valley, and with so many available, it can be hard to decide which one to try. Above all, you want to find trails that are fun but also right for your skill level. Whether you are looking for something at the beginner's level, or you are hoping to find something that challenges you, Utah Valley bike trails have you covered.

Wardsworth Creek Trail Sign

Wardsworth Creek Trail

Running just over 6 miles, the Wardsworth Creek Trail is trafficked by both hikers and mountain bikers. It is largely considered a beautiful area and not too busy, well worth a visit if you are an intermediate biker. The trail lies in Hobble Creek Canyon, roughly follows the creek, and ends at a pond where you can take a break before you head back.

While the trail is considered moderately difficult, it is generally pretty flat. The difficulties lie in the many creek crossings required, which seem to get more challenging as you progress on the trail. Regardless, if you are up for a bit of a challenge and don’t mind getting your feet wet, this trail is a great option.

Jordan River Parkway Trail

Jordan River Parkway Trail

If you are looking for a longer ride that isn’t too challenging, the Jordan River Parkway Trail stretches across about 40 miles within a well-kept park. Great for kids and beginning cyclists looking to increase their stamina, you will have the opportunity to ride this trail in all seasons due to it being mostly paved.

Additionally, you can start on the asphalt path and veer onto one of the many trailheads that litter the main trail to break up your ride and see something new. Along the main path, you will have access to a variety of parks, nature viewing, and a good amount of picnic areas to stop at if you need a rest.

Father and kids biking on mountain trail

Slate Canyon Loop Trail

This 8.5-mile loop starts in Slate Canyon but touches on Slide Canyon as it makes its way around. There is a beautiful view partway into the trail that is worth the steep and challenging beginning. Once you have made it up the initial steepness, the trail levels out and allows you to catch your breath and enjoy the scenery.

The views seem to stop once you are looping back around past the Bonneville Shoreline so some people recommend ending your ride there. Regardless, if you are there for the ride (and not the view) making the whole loop is doable for the intermediate or advanced rider.

Muddy forest trail

Provo Canyon Race Loop

At a short 1.7 miles, the Provo Canyon Race Loop can either be what its name implies—a race—or it can be a solo trek in a pleasant landscape. Grassy fields, beautiful oak trees, and the distant Cascade Mountain all accent your ride. The trail can be found outside of Canyon View Park or from the Bonneville Shoreline Trail.

Be warned, while it is a short loop, it is not recommended for beginning riders. Challenging ups and downs, sharp turns, and steep pitches make it best for an intermediate or expert rider.

Man riding bike over creek

Murdock Canal Trail

A long but easy trail, the Murdock Canal Trail located by Orem, Utah won’t disappoint when it comes to scenery. It boasts 18.2 miles of a point-to-point trail and is paved, making it accessible to beginners or those looking for a simple ride. You might also appreciate the public restrooms scattered along your way.

Stretching across seven Utah Valley Communities, you will experience changing scenery and occasionally a good amount of people. While it can be heavily trafficked in some areas, the views are beautiful and it is widely considered worth the ride.

Biker walking bike up hillside

Sundance Trail

If you are looking for a slightly less populated trail that offers more of a challenge, Sundance Trail is about 9 miles of river crossings, steep ups and downs, and loose rock. Despite the difficulties of the trail, many rave about its stunning views.

This trail is not for the faint of heart (dogs are allowed, but many people who have brought theirs on the trail caution against it due to the trail conditions) but if you aren’t afraid of a rough-and-tumble, difficult bike trail, you might find the Sundance Trail to be right up your alley.

Blackhawk Loop Trail

Located by Fairview Utah, the Blackhawk Trail runs 8.5 miles with an almost 2,000-foot elevation gain. If you are hoping to touch on as many terrains and landscapes as possible, this trail is for you.

Popular amongst mountain bikers due to its moderate level of difficulty and slow elevation gain, you'll also appreciate its gorgeous scenery and heavily shaded trails. This trail is also good for those looking for a ride that won’t be disrupted by too much foot traffic.

Bonneville Shoreline Trail

The Bonneville Shoreline Trail spans a large distance, generally following Lake Bonneville’s shoreline. You will experience the canyons of the Wasatch Mountains and you may run into some less developed trail areas but if you aren't worried about hitting a couple of rough patches you will probably enjoy your ride on this path.

Despite some undeveloped bits of trail, it is considered an easy hike appropriate for all skill levels. Occasionally it gets muddy, so if you don’t want to get dirty you might want to avoid the Bonneville Shoreline Trail.

Big Springs Trail

Big Springs Trail is a challenging 11.4-mile ride. It is a popular but difficult trail and offers experienced riders a pretty incredible view at the top. The climb makes most of the trip; after you see the 360-degree views and take a break, you will only have around a mile left until you're back in your car.

The steep climb, the potential for running into snow, and the big elevation gain (4,179 feet) make this not for beginners. If you are up for the challenge, you will be rewarded with wildflowers at the right time of year, and a gorgeous view when you reach the top.

It is easy to find a bike trail in Utah valley that will work for you. Since the level of difficulty varies so widely, do your research before heading out, but if you choose one from this list you will definitely not be disappointed. No matter what your skill level is, Utah valley views will always be worth the ride. 

Monday, July 20, 2020

Hiking 101: Essential Tips for Beginners

Hiking 101: Essential Tips for Beginners

Beginning hikers are often raring to go. It is exciting to start your hiking journey and you want to get right out onto the trails. However, it is important to do some prep work before you head out so you are fully prepared not only for the physical challenges you will face but also for the unknowns of the wilderness. Make use of these tips, and you will have a much better experience and will be more likely to continue hiking for years to come.

People Hiking a Mountain Trail

Be Physically Prepared

When you are a beginning hiker, you must make sure you are physically ready for the hiking you want to undertake. Hiking is more taxing than a walk around your neighborhood because you will have to deal with uneven terrain, ups and downs of hiking trails, and potential changes in altitude. 

Preparing your body for the challenges ahead will make the hike feel less challenging and will reduce the potential for unnecessary injury. 

One way to prepare is to increase your stamina and strength in a controlled environment such as a gym. This will not only help your muscles adapt more quickly to a new exercise but can also help increase your lung capacity so you do not feel so out of breath on the trail. 

Additionally, making sure that you know the best ways to handle walking on trails to protect your knees and joints can save you a lot of pain in the long run. Walking with a flat foot versus toe to heel can help you walk uphill safely, and leaning back will help you walk downhill safely. 

Hiking Gear laid out on table

Get the Right Gear

Finding the right balance between too many and too few supplies can be a challenge for a beginning hiker. The hiking gear aisle of your local sporting good shop is brimming with fun hiking “essentials” and you might be tempted to go ahead and get everything. 

While it is important to be prepared, you can safely minimize your hiking gear to just the essentials, keeping your pack light and allowing you to focus on the hike itself. 

Gear you should bring includes a backpack (any will do at first), water, high protein and fiber foods, a first aid kit, things that will help you navigate, and a light. 

Water is top-of-the-list important, but you will be grateful you packed some good energy-boosting snacks when you are in the middle of your hike. Navigation tools can include maps, compasses, and GPS systems. A flashlight is great because you never know when you might miscalculate how long it will take you to get back to your car, and end up picking your way down a dark trail.

You also might want to look for a trekking pole to bring. Having more than one point of contact with the ground at all times will give you more stability, and they can also be helpful for your joints. 

People looking out of tent door

Wear the Right Clothing

While you might be tempted to throw on your yoga pants for your hike, wearing the right clothing is more important than you might think. 

Depending on the time of year and the weather in your area, you will probably want to layer up. You will never regret having an extra layer if it gets cold, starts to rain, or if you end up hiking into the evening when you weren’t expecting to. 

Hiking clothes should be moisture-wicking, meaning they do not absorb your sweat but rather draw it to the outside of the item of clothing so it does not sit on your skin. If you sweat in a shirt that is not moisture-wicking such as one made of cotton, the shirt will cease to be insulating. 

Getting the right shoes is especially important to lower your risk of injury on the trails and allowing you to get the most out of every hike. Wearing supportive shoes that were made specifically with hiking in mind, ideally, a pair with some motion control support and great tread for gripping loose and unpredictable terrain will make a big difference in keeping you safe and comfortable as you start your new hobby.

dirt trail in the mountains

Pick the Right Trail 

Trails come in all different levels of difficulty and luckily for new hikers, there are many resources available to figure out which ones match your abilities. Some apps like AllTrails have reviews from people who hiked the trails that will give you a better idea of what is in store for you. 

Local hiking groups are often found on Facebook and they will provide essential information about current challenges faced on your local hiking trails. Seasoned hikers will sometimes run into fallen trees or washed out paths and will let everyone know. When you are just starting, you should avoid unnecessary or dangerous challenges. 

Even if a hike is considered easy, it might be too long for you when you are just starting. Keep the distance of the trail in mind, as well as what time of day you will be starting. Some hiking trails will take you up in elevation which can be a challenge when you haven’t hiked much before.

Pack, Shoes, and Hats

Troubleshooting on Your Hike

You can’t prepare for everything, but having a good base knowledge of how to deal with unfortunate circumstances can be a big help. 

To avoid getting lost, make sure that you bring a physical map. There is no guarantee that your cell phone will maintain service if you get lost or need assistance. Expensive GPS trackers are available that can help other people find you if you get injured. 

When you are out in an unpopulated area there is a good chance you could run into some wildlife. While most animals will avoid you, it is good to know what wildlife is common to the area, any recent sightings, and what to do to minimize your risk if you encounter something. Generally speaking, you should always stay calm and not run if you cross paths with large animals. 

Couple hiking along lakeside

Preparing yourself for all of the different aspects of hiking is important as a hiker of any experience level. As a beginning hiker, you will never regret being over-prepared when you are on a trail and run into an unexpected challenge. Do everything you can to keep yourself safe and ready for the unknown, and before you know it you will be a seasoned hiker with many miles under your belt.

Monday, July 13, 2020

9 Things you can do Outside With Your Family This Summer – While Social Distancing

9 Things you can do outside with your family this summer - while social distancing

Many people are feeling pretty cooped up right now. Many of the usual summer activities are either unavailable or unsafe and while you want to get out of the house, you also want to do it in a way that is socially responsible—especially where your kids are involved.

While you may want to avoid visiting water parks or summer camps right now, you can still go outside and have summer fun with your family. Here are 9 things you can do that include lots of sunshine and fresh air.

Little girl looking at treasure map

Do a Neighborhood or Backyard “Scavenger Hunt”

This one requires a little bit of pre-planning, but it can be a great way to engage your kids on a walk, or even just get them out in the yard. The best thing about it is that after you put the activity together, you don’t have to do many extra things. It is a low-key activity that only requires a little bit of preparation.  

Think of some things that you might see on a neighborhood walk. Some examples are a dog, a purple flower, a certain neighbor, or a specific color of car or house. You can make it more detailed for older children and simpler (using images) for younger children. It makes walks a little bit more exciting for everyone involved as you compete to see who will see all of the items first.

A dad, a son, and their dog on a walk

Take a Nature Walk

A simple way to have a fun family day outside is to go on a nature walk. If your local parks or hiking trails are open, you can take a socially-distanced walk and explore nature near your home. Bugs, fish, lizards, and birds are everywhere, and you can also talk about different plants and trees you see. You don’t have to be an expert—if your child asks a question you don’t know the answer to, help them look it up when you get home! If you get excited about what you see, chances are your children will too.

Children drawing the United States Flag with Chalk

Sidewalk Chalk

Sidewalk chalk is not new, but it has been a childhood staple for many years for a reason. Simple, colorful, and fun, drawing with chalk on your cement patio, driveway, or front sidewalk is a great way to spend a couple of hours with your kids. Drawing pictures is a lot of fun, but you can also write nice messages for the postal worker or your neighbors, play games of hopscotch or tic-tac-toe, or even do body outlines—have you kid lie down in a pose, and trace them. For some reason, kids love seeing their outline.

Little girl taking a selfie

Take Pictures

If you have an artistically inclined child, encouraging them to try nature photography can be an engaging way to spend some time outside. You can even get a couple of cheap disposable cameras and learn how to take pictures that don’t offer immediate gratification.

If your child is old enough and is interested in photography, you can do a fun project like making a pinhole camera out of a cardboard box. You’ll need a few supplies, but it can be a nice way to encourage your child to explore their hobby and continue to take pictures outside.  

salad dinner on outside table

Take Inside Activities Outside

Sometimes you just need to get out of the house and breathe. A nice way to do that as a family is to move your activities into the backyard. You can do arts and crafts on the patio, or play board games at an outdoor table.

Another fun indoor activity to do outdoors is having lunch or dinner. Make it a picnic and set up a blanket to sit on so you can enjoy your meal in a brand new way. Sometimes shaking things up just a little bit will make you feel less stir crazy. If the blanket seems too messy, set up a table and chairs outside, or use a patio table for a little change in scenery while you eat.  

family camping together

Camp in the Backyard

A lot of families are missing their summer camping trips this year, but that doesn’t mean you have to completely go without it. Set up some camping activities in the backyard and spend the whole day outside. Set up your tent or make one out of blankets, and go on a neighborhood “hike,” have hotdogs for dinner and s'mores for dessert. If you have trees in the yard, hammocks are a good investment to get your kids excited to go outside a little more. They're quick to set up and lots of fun.

You can make it all even more exciting by spending the night in the backyard. Telling campfire stories, singing songs, and falling asleep to the sound of crickets will give you and your family a break from the monotony and make memories for years to come.

old baseball in the grass

Get Active

Both children and adults can probably benefit from working out some extra energy right now. Get your sillies out by jumping on your bikes or grabbing a soccer ball and getting outside.

If you don’t have sports equipment you can still get active. Older kids might appreciate going on an easy jog or run with you in the mornings before it gets too hot, and for younger kids playing tag or red-light / green-light is a simple way to release some pent up energy and bond while you do it.

Make it a Habit

If you are met with resistance when trying to get your family outside, make it a daily activity. You can start small, throwing the ball for the dog for 10 minutes or going for a walk around the block. Gently engage them with some of the activities mentioned above. As time goes on, everyone will get used to their daily outside time, and even begin to appreciate it.

The best thing about spending time with your family outdoors is that it doesn't have to be complicated. Right now, a lot of people aren't feeling up to putting lots of planning and effort into their activities, and that is okay! Structured outside time can be helpful if your children need some convincing that outside can be fun, but spending time as a family is always a positive and fun activity, whether you are backyard camping, playing catch, or relaxing on the grass.

Monday, July 6, 2020

The 5 Best Outdoor Activities to Do with Kids in Utah Valley

The 5 Best Outdoor Activities to do with kids in Utah Valley

Nestled between Utah Lake and the Wasatch Mountains, the Utah Valley offers endless opportunities to get out and explore with the kids. From hiking and exploring to enjoying the city, there are so many places out among the mountains and streams that will get your kids off their screens and awaken within them a wonder of the natural world.

These are the five best outdoor things to do with the kids in the Utah Valley: 

Spend the Day at Thanksgiving Point

1.Spend the Day at Thanksgiving Point

With museums, gardens, explorable farmland, and more, Thanksgiving Point offers days upon days of activities and educational opportunities that will entertain the kids—and the adults, too! Located in the town of Lehi, Utah, the complex is home to the Museum of Natural Curiosity, which features a ropes course and intricate playgrounds.

Take the family to learn about natural history and immerse yourselves in the world of fossils at the Museum of Ancient Life, or head to Farm Country, where you can try your hand at milking a cow, take a ride aboard a farm wagon, and even learn about how produce makes its way to stores and restaurants. 

Ashton Gardens, which features the tallest manmade waterfall in the western hemisphere, is home to 15 different gardens. Families can take an entire day to explore the gardens and learn new things about nature.

There’s also a Butterfly Biosphere, where you can explore a garden conservatory filled with more than a thousand butterflies. Kids will love learning about the different butterflies and insects, including tarantulas, large beetles, and much much more.

Really there are so many things to see around Thanksgiving Point, it's better not to try to do them all. Just pick what most interests you and enjoy!

Bridal Veil Falls

2.Visit Bridal Veil Falls

Your kids will love a hike to see Bridal Veil Falls, one of Utah’s tallest waterfalls. Located in Provo Canyon, the 1.5-mile (round-trip) trail is completely paved and easy to traverse. The result is a breathtaking view of Bridal Veil Falls, a 607-foot-tall cascading plume of water. You can even scale some of the lower falls to get up closer to the waterfall. Bring water shoes if you have them, it makes walking over the stones a lot less painful.

There’s also another trail that takes you for a closer look at the falls and a nearby picnic area with tables and grills if you want to make it a day-long affair. The trail is open all year, so visitors even have the opportunity to see the frozen falls in the winter months. 

In the 1960s, the falls used to be privately owned, and visitors enjoyed spending weekends there at a lodge and restaurant, and they were even able to take a tram to the top of the falls. While these activities are no longer available, the area is still beautiful and a must-see in Utah Valley.

3.Hike to Stewart Falls

Another kid-friendly hike takes you to Stewart Falls at the Sundance Mountain Resort. The two-mile hike begins at Aspen Grove, near the Theater-in-the-Pines picnic area. The trail ascends a mountain, but some lifts take you up the mountain and offer breathtaking views of the surrounding vistas. 

The hike is especially beautiful in the fall as the aspens change leaves, making it one of the most photographed natural phenomena in the state. The surrounding area offers beautiful views year-round, and there are more than 10 miles of trails if you want to go off and explore some more. In the summer, the icy spray from Stewart Falls provides a cool mist. 

The trail to Stewart Falls is very well-maintained, and horses are allowed to use it. There is a nominal fee for a permit to use the trail, but the small price pays off with amazing views and a great time for the kids. 

Steam Engine

4.Ride Along Heber Valley Railroad

This historic railroad carried passengers on the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad up until the 1960s, and families can now take a ride along the Heber Valley Railroad on the "Heber Creeper" for a three-hour round trip along with spectacular views.

The antique Union Pacific No. 618 steam locomotive takes passengers from the Heber Depot up to Provo Canyon. As you make your way up the 16-mile track, you’ll see the amazing sights of Utah Valley, including Mount Timpanogos and Soldier Hollow. 

The Lakeside Limited two-hour train ride takes passengers on a trip with beautiful views along the Deer Creek Reservoir and Mount Timpanogos, and the sights are just as spectacular in the winter as they are in the summer. Food is available for purchase on the train, and your kids will have a blast trying to spot wildlife along the way.

Don’t let the fun stop with the train ride! Packages for this adventure include the option to add a zipline tour or whitewater rafting adventure. The railroad offers themed activities throughout the year as well, including the Wizard’s Train for a magical day and a rock n’ roll experience that includes a free concert, trivia, and sing-along songs. There’s also a Wild West Days event that offers family-friendly western-themed sing-alongs and a staged train robbery.

People standing in Timpanogas Cave

5.Timpanogos Cave National Monument

Known as one of Utah’s most recognizable mountains, the 11,749-foot-tall Mount Timpanogos towers over Utah Valley. While it is a popular activitiy in Utah to complete a harrowing climb to the peak, this isn’t recommended for kids! Families can explore below the mountain in the expansive cave system known as Timpanogos Cave National Monument.

Not only will you discover the world underneath, but cave tour guides will teach you about how the rocks were formed and how they discovered these awe-inspiring underground mazes. Visitors can also try their hand at beginner spelunking and explore the caves for themselves.

Three limestone caves sit below the mountain, but visitors must climb a 1.5-mile trail to get to the entrances. The trail can reach very high temperatures in the summer, so be sure to bring lots of water for the family. Tickets for tours can be purchased up to 30 days in advance. 

The city of Provo and its surrounding suburbs offer a variety of things to do with the family, and the mountains and lake provide adventurous opportunities to explore. From underground explorations to a mountainside train ride, your kids will love all that they discover in Utah Valley.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

A Short History of Victorian Architecture

A Short History of Victorian Architecture
You've probably noticed Hines Mansion on your drive down 100 South. It jumps out a little when placed beside the modern offices and residential homes of downtown Provo. But once upon a time, the mansion's architecture was much more the norm. If you consider yourself an architecture buff, here is a primer on Victorian architecture. Be sure to drop by Hines Mansion to see a real-life example of this beautiful building style.

Queen Victoria Ornamentation
The Victorian Age
During the time that Queen Victoria ruled Great Britain, a period of 71 years from the mid-1800s to the beginning of the 20th century, a variety of architectural styles gained popularity. The culmination of these styles is considered Victorian architecture.

The economy and mindset that highlighted these years are reflected in its architectural elements.  Gaudy and extravagant features from Gothic Revival, Italianate, Second Empire, Queen Anne, and many other styles punctuated this time and made up the elements of what you probably think of as the Victorian style. From the flourished trim to the high ceilings, every aspect of these buildings could stand on its own, but it was the combination of these features that made the architecture so memorable.

Most of the architecture that was prominent in this age had an element of extravagance to it. The Industrial Revolution heralded increased wealth, which increased this focus on excess that you can see directly represented in the architectural elements of the time. The surge of innovation in the area of mass-production and other building-related advances resulted in a massive amount of houses constructed between 1850 and 1870, all boasting the latest fashions in home design.

Victorian Gabled Roof
Features of Victorian Architecture
The largest influence on what we now see as Victorian was the Gothic Revival. Gothic Revival is best known for its steep roofs, gables, and decorative elements clearly present or amplified in many Victorian-style houses. Gothic Revival also introduced home builders to the non-sensical floor plan, which was also adopted into our current vision of Victorian architecture and culminated in visually appealing but impractical home layouts. So while the Gothic Revival style can be credited as first dipping its toes into this trend, it was really the Victorian era mindset, as well as the ease and affordability of fancy flourishes, that led to beauty over practicality becoming the cornerstone of the Victorian style.

With regard to fanciness becoming affordable, it was in large part due to the thriving economy. Many features of Victorian architecture became accessible not only to the very wealthy, but also the middle class, which was experiencing increased prosperity. What's more, mass-production made a lot of materials that had previously been expensive or hard to acquire affordable and available to a larger portion of the population. This allowed those who were not building a new home to purchase trim and other house flourishes that they could simply add to their current homes, and so become fashionably extravagant. 

Victorian Manor
Characterized by ornate features, layers, and not shying away from the showy, it is easy to spot Victorian architecture. From the outside, you will notice flashy gables, steep roofs, many stories, large porches, and canted bay windows. The interiors often feature carved wood paneling, stained glass, showy wallpaper, and ornamental fireplaces. Due to the mass-production of bricks and the easy transport of wood and other materials by rail, wood and brick were common materials used in the outer wall construction of homes during this time. Sometimes the brick would be left bare, and other times were painted in bright colors. Turrets and towers were also popular, generally built in a round or octagonal shape, and intended to bring the gaze up and add to the ornate feel of the home.

These houses were not known for their symmetry, further punctuating the free-form style that Victorian architecture embodied. Many also embraced a cluttered look, using as many textures, trims, and even bright colors, as they pleased. You might see a house from this era with a combination of scalloped shingles on the outer walls, elaborate trim, a wrap-around porch, and gables or towers all fused into one edifice.

Victorian Homes Side-By-Side
The Spread of Victorian Architecture
Often many Victorian houses were built in a small area, crammed onto one busy street to accommodate as many working-class people employed by nearby factories as possible. Despite staying true to the Victorian style leanings of the time with their architectural features, many of these homes did not include sanitation and were actually more focused on function than fashion. 

Although this architecture was especially prevalent in England, the popularity of these features spread quickly to other countries, including North America. These days it is not difficult to spot a home built during this period in popular U.S. cities, including many along the coast of California, and, of course, Provo, Utah.

Hines Mansion Exterior
Hines Mansion - A Local Victorian Manor
Considered to be one of the most historic residential landmarks in Utah County, Hines Mansion was built in 1895 by Russell and Kitty Hines. Thought to be designed by Richard Kletting, designer of the Utah State Capitol Building, it was originally used as a showplace. 
From 1975 to 1978, renovations took place that maintained as much of the integrity of the original architecture as possible. A cupola was rebuilt to be a close representation of the original, and wings were added on the first level. These renovations were done by Douglas K. Hardy, who received an award of merit from the Utah Heritage Foundation as a result of his work.

Hines Mansion has been home to many owners and businesses throughout the years. It was first turned into bed and breakfast in 1995 by Gene and Sandi Henderson, who added extra rooms in a turn-of-the-century style. The current owners Kyle and Michelle Schick continue to proudly run the Hines Mansion as a bed and breakfast today.

Throughout its many years as a bed and breakfast, the Hines Mansion owners have always upheld a high standard of service, hospitality and quality. With its rich 120 year history and gorgeous restored Victorian architecture, a stay at the Hines Mansion Bed & Breakfast is truly allows you to take a step back in time.

Monday, June 22, 2020

5 Award-Winning B&B Breakfasts You Can Make from Home

5 Award-winning B&B Breakfasts You Can Make From Home
You can’t stay at a bed and breakfast without enjoying a delicious, homemade breakfast. Across the country, B&Bs are serving up some gourmet dishes for guests. The competition has gotten so tough, there are even tournaments for the best B&B breakfasts in the United States. 

These are top five award-winning B&B breakfasts you can make from home: 

Pancakes with berry sauce
1. Lemon Souffle Pancakes with Blueberry Compote
In the quaint town of Springfield, Kentucky, the Maple Hill Manor is cooking up some of the best breakfast in the country. Touted as “Kentucky’s Best Bed and Breakfast,” this manor has won many awards throughout the year, including a 2013 award for their lemon souffle pancakes, served with blueberry compote. 

Makes 8 servings

  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 3½ tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cream of tartar
  • Zest of 1 lemon 
  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 1¼ cups whole milk
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbsp. melted butter
  1. Sift the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add cream of tartar and lemon zest. In the center of the mixture, pour the milk, egg, and butter, and mix until batter is smooth. 
  2. Lightly oil or spray a griddle or frying pan and heat over medium-high heat. Pour about 1/4 cup of the batter onto the pan and brown on both sides until edges are crispy. 
  3. Top with blueberries and warmed maple syrup. 
Blueberry Compote
  • 3 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (save ½ cup for topping)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup water
  1. Combine half the blueberries, sugar, and water in a small saucepan. Simmer over medium heat, stirring often for about 10 minutes, until the blueberries burst. Add the other cup of blueberries, and cook, stirring often for eight minutes, until the compote is thick enough to coat the spoon. 
  2. Top with blueberries and powdered sugar. 
Chowder in a bowl
2. Corn Chowder with Poached Eggs
The Historic Rabbit Hill Inn offers a unique, candlelit breakfast buffet, including a breakfast corn chowder that quickly became the inn’s staple. This four-star bed and breakfast in northern Vermont also serves afternoon treats and dinner and cocktails. 

Makes 4 servings
  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 1/4 pound diced bacon
  • 1 diced onion
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1/2 cup diced fennel
  • 1 cup corn niblets (fresh or frozen, cooked)
  • 1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 2 tsp. minced rosemary
  • 3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 3 cups diced potato
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 8 eggs, poached
  • 4 slices baguette, toasted
  • 8 bacon slices, cooked
  1. Add oil and diced bacon to a pot and cook until crisp. Add onions, celery, and fennel, and cook until tender. Add corn, red pepper, and rosemary. Stir and remove from heat. Sprinkle flour over vegetables and stir. 
  2. While diced bacon cooks, add vegetable stock and potatoes to a separate pot. Bring to a simmer and cook until potatoes are fork-tender. 
  3. Add potatoes and vegetable stock to the bacon and vegetable mixture. Return to heat and bring to a simmer, stirring often. Add half-and-half and season with salt and pepper, and simmer. 
  4. Use a ladle to serve in a warm bowl. Place a toasted baguette on top and add two poached eggs. Serve with two slices of bacon and rosemary. 
Breakfast platter
3. Panettone Pain Perdu with Merlot Poached Pears and Lemon Curd
On the shores of Lake Michigan in the small city of Whitehall, Michigan, you’ll find a quaint B&B with gourmet, creative dishes. The chefs at Cocoa Cottage Bed & Breakfast love experimenting with their recipes, and the panettone pain perdu with pears and lemon curd takes a top spot for best B&B breakfast. 

Makes 4 servings
  • 4 slices panettone
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tbsp. Grand Marnier
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. orange oil
  • A handful of grated nutmeg
  • 4 peeled Bosc pears (with stems)
  • 1½ cups water
  • 2 cups Merlot wine
  • 3/4 cups pear nectar
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla
  • 1 cinnamon stick, crushed
  • 6 peppercorns, crushed
  • Lemon curd
  1. Peel pears with stems attached. Scoop out the bottom. 
  2. Add pears, wine, water, nectar, cinnamon stick, peppercorns, and vanilla in a large saucepan. Cook uncovered for 40–50 minutes until tender. 
  3. Slice the pears in half and core. Fill the empty space with lemon curd. 
  4. Whisk heavy cream, eggs, orange oil, Grand Marnier, and cinnamon together. Cut four slices of panettone (about an inch thick). Place slices in a large dish and cover with cream and egg mixture. Grate nutmeg over the top and turn once. 
  5. Cook the panettone in a buttered pan until both sides are brown and center springs back. 
  6. Put slices on a plate and sprinkle powdered sugar over the top. Top with berries and add poached pear. Add sausage and maple syrup to the plate and serve. 
Los Poblanos Shakshouka
4. Los Poblanos Shakshouka
New Mexico is well-known for its spicy chilies and concoctions created with it. At Los Poblanos Historic Inn and Organic Farm in Albequerque, chefs are using those flavors to create a fresh, organic shakshouka breakfast. 

Makes 4-6 servings
  • 1 pound garbanzo beans
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 quart canned tomatoes, diced
  • 2 cups diced yellow onion
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced garlic
  • 2 tsp. toasted and ground cumin seed
  • 2 tsp. toasted and ground coriander seed
  • 1 tsp. toasted and ground Grains of Paradise
  • 2 tbsp. toasted New Mexico red chile powder
  • 1/2 tsp. toasted and ground caraway
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 orange
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil. 
  • Eggs for topping
  • Extra-virgin olive oil for topping
  • Feta for topping
  • Mint for topping
  • Black pepper for topping
  1. Cover garbanzo beans in water five times their volume in a large pot. Bring to a boil then simmer. Skim thoroughly. When foam decreases, add garlic. Simmer until tender (several hours) and add water as needed. When tender, add salt until the broth is salty. 
  2. In another large pot, heat onions and garlic in olive oil and salt until translucent. Add spices and herbs. Cook until fragrant. Add wine; reduce by half. Add tomatoes and zest the orange over the pot (reserve the rest of the orange). Simmer and add salt (to taste). Cook until tomatoes are collapsed. 
  3. Heat two parts garbanzo beans and one part tomato stew. Bring to a simmer, and add seasoning and water, if needed. Create a well in the stew for each egg. Add a few drops of extra-virgin olive oil and crack an egg in each well. Cover, and make sure the heat is low and eggs are poaching in a low simmer. When whites are done, remove from heat and scoop eggs onto the side of a warm bowl. Ladle the stew into the bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Add toppings and serve. 

5. Banana Split French Toast
At the Winter Park ski town in Colorado sits the Winter Park Chateau, a picturesque mountain B&B with a hearty breakfast for mountaineers ready for their next adventure. The banana split French toast is a favorite, and the name says it all. 

Makes 6 servings
  • A loaf of French bread/baguette
  • 8 oz. cream cheese, softened 
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 6 bananas, sliced
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
  • 1 tbsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp. dark rum
  • Butter for frying
  1. Slice bread into eight pieces, each about two inches thick. Slice about three-quarters through the middle of each piece for filling. 
  2. Beat cream cheese and powdered sugar together and spread between bread slices. Add sliced bananas and press together so pieces stick. 
  3. Combine eggs, half-and-half, cinnamon, and vanilla. Dip sandwiches into the batter and cook in a buttered frying pan until bread is brown and egg is cooked. 
  4. In a saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar, and rum and lightly boil on medium heat. Turn down heat and add bananas. Cook for about five minutes and stir often until slightly thickened. Pour mixture over cooked bread. 
These are just five of thousands of delicious B&B breakfasts calling for their next guests to enjoy. Try out these recipes for your taste of a weekend getaway, and they’ll leave you wanting more. Keep in mind that at Hines Mansion Bed & Breakfast of Provo UT, we provide our own gourmet breakfast that will start your day off deliciously.

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Monday, June 15, 2020

9 Best Stargazing Spots Near Provo, Utah

9 Best Stargazing Spots near Provo, Utah
When it comes to stargazing, you don’t have to stray too far from Provo to get a great view. Utah prides itself on working to preserve its dark skies, believing that you should easily be able to find a spot where you can see the Milky Way. There are many opportunities for all types of stargazers near Provo. From planetarium shows to quiet outlooks, you won’t be disappointed.

Trees beneath night sky
Brigham Young University 
Located in Provo, Brigham Young University offers fantastic opportunities for stargazers, astronomy enthusiasts, and people of all ages. The BYU Astronomical Society offers a wide range of activities for anyone who wants to get a great view of the night sky and learn about what they are seeing in the process. 

Some events and activities hosted by the Society include weekly planetarium shows and monthly star parties. While the shows are conducted at the University, star parties are great if you want to be guided through the night sky in an outdoor location. While the planetarium shows are generally followed by use of the observation deck, nothing beats the darkness of a more rural location. 

Man standing beneath starry sky
Lookout Peak Trail
Sitting at around 9000 feet and boasting an incredible view, Lookout Peak might make you forget the 45-minute drive from Provo. While during the daytime it’s claim to fame is it’s 8 mile hike, at night the panoramic views become dotted with a brilliant amount of stars.

Many hikers mention the solitude of the trail, and it does not seem to be a very trafficked area. Keep this spot in mind if you need to do some deep thinking during your stargazing, but if you would prefer to check out the night sky in an area with more people around, it might not be for you.

Tree silhouettes beneath the stars
Steep Mountain Park
30 minutes outside of Provo is Steep Mountain Park, located on South Mountain. Not too far from civilization, this spot delicately balances rural darkness and accessibility.

This public park has clean-cut grass and amenities such as a playground and sports fields, as well as a paved path. It is an ideal spot for seeing the night sky while potentially avoiding nocturnal wildlife or uneven terrain. Parking is on the street, so you don’t have to worry about being locked in and can view the starry sky in peace for hours. 

Harmon’s Grocery – Bangerter Crossing 
Not everyone wants to drive out of town or to unpopulated areas to see the stars, and luckily you don’t have to. It may seem like there would be too much light pollution near a grocery store, but the Salt Lake Astronomical Society has been known to meet in Harmon’s parking lots–and you can probably trust that they know what they’re doing.

If the Harmon’s at Bangerter Crossing isn’t working out, you can always try another location, such as South Jordan or Brickyard. You have many options for a city location that still offers a fantastic night sky experience. Bangerter Crossing is just 30 minutes from Provo. 

Hidden Peak Summit
A little further outside of Provo sits Hidden Peak Summit, about a 1 hour and 15 minute drive from the city. A highly trafficked spot, you might find you have company when you come to stargaze. It is not just known for it’s snowboarding and skiing, but for it’s incredible view as well. 

You can come on your own, or take the trek out with a stargazing group. During the summer, people organize stargazing outings to Hidden Peak Summit to take advantage of it’s high elevation and close-up views of the night sky. 

Rock Canyon Trail Parking Lot
If you are looking for a spot that is close to town and easy to access, this could be the one for you. The trail itself is not recommended after dark, but the parking lot to the trailhead is open 24 hours, and is situated right on an overlook of Provo. You can do some very decent star gazing as soon as you step out of your car.

The parking lot is located at Rock Canyon Trailhead Park (not Rock Canyon Park). If you are feeling adventurous, you can make a day of it – hike the moderate 5.5 mile trail for the daytime view, and then hang out at your car for the evening star show. Bring something to eat and your romantic evening is complete.

Big Springs Park
In this lovely park, you will find both astronomy clubs and general stargazers who are drawn to the exceptionally dark sky. Due in part to the mountains that edge it, Big Spring Park is considered a Dark Sky Area, making it an ideal place to see many stars. 

Located about 25 minutes outside of Provo via US-189 N, it is close enough to town for an evening drive. The well-manicured park is easy to access even in the dark, and you can get a great view without straying too far from your car. 

Payson Canyon
Just 25 minutes south of Provo, Payson Canyon is for the camping enthusiast that wants to add an extra element of the great outdoors to their stargazing. There are several campgrounds to choose from in the canyon area, including Maple Bench Campground.  

Maple Bench Campground is the closest campground in Payson Canyon to Provo. During the day you can hike around the area or engage in many different water activities from fishing to floating. That said, the real draw is the night sky view. While it is open for day use as well, if you choose to camp and see the stars, you won’t regret it. 

tent set up beneath night sky
Antelope Island State Park
If you are up for a longer drive, Antelope Island State Park is a great option for stargazers. The International Dark Sky Association deemed this State Park one of the few current International Dark Sky State Parks in Utah in 2017, and for good reason. 

Aside from boasting a high-quality night sky viewing experience (seriously—check out some of the pictures on the Utah State Parks website), it's worth the drive for its accessible location and campsites. If you don’t want to make the drive back home, stay overnight, and get the full starry experience. The park also offers astronomy programs if you want or need some guidance. 

When it comes to stargazing around Provo, Utah, we have it! Whether you are a stargazer who is hoping for a meditative experience or you want to become more adept at reading the night sky, you can find a location close to Provo that suits your needs and experience level.

Monday, June 8, 2020

You’ve Never Heard of these 7 Utah Valley Hikes

You've never heard of these 7 Utah Valley hikes
Utah Valley is full of hiking destinations that both locals and tourists love, such as the well-known Y Mountain overlooking the Brigham Young University campus or the scenic Timpanogos Cave Trail. The more popular the hike, the more crowded it is likely to be, especially during the peak summer months.

But Utah Valley is full of trails, and many are not well-known, and so are not as crowded. Enjoy the solace and tranquility of the road less traveled. Try one of these lesser-known hikes next time you're in the area.

Payson Lake Trail
Like Utah Parkway Trail? You’ll love Payson Lake Trail.
Utah Lake is one of the scenic highlights in Utah Valley, full of activities for the whole family. It can also be more crowded. If you love spending time by the water, then try the Payson Lakes instead. On the south end of Utah County, this is a lovely hiking destination. The Payson Lakes are located inside the Nebo Loop, and the biggest lake – Big East Reservoir – features an easy hiking trail that wraps around the lake.

Make a day of it and try your hand at fishing or take a swim to cool off. This spot is also great for a picnic. Proceed with caution, however: many of the other trails surrounding Mount Nebo are steep, slippery, and definitely not for the beginner hiker.

Horsetail Falls
Like Stewart Falls? You’ll love Horsetail Falls.
Stewart Falls is a popular hiking destination year-round because of its stunning scenery. But very closeby is another gorgeous waterfall, just outside of Alpine City: Horsetail Falls. The 3.9 mile hike takes you through both wooded areas and open meadows before arriving at the falls. This is a more strenuous hike than Stewart Falls, but the crowds are usually smaller, and there are plenty of opportunities to take a break along the way. This trail is also dog-friendly, as long as they are kept on leashes.

Hobble Creek Canyon
Like Rock Canyon? You’ll love Hobble Creek Canyon.
The greatest advantage of Hobble Creek Canyon is that it is full of scenic hiking trails that all seem to intersect, so you can customize the length and difficulty of your hike. You can start at Cherry Campground or Balsam Campground, especially if you are interested in spending a night in the wilderness, and pick up Wardsworth Trail, Days Canyon Trail, Kirkman Hollow Trail, or many other options. These trails are considered easy to moderate in difficulty, and many follow a stream or other body of water. If you are not a hiker or if the weather is not cooperating, you can also take a scenic drive along this route.

Like Provo River Parkway? You’ll love Spanish Fork River Trail.
As the names imply, the Provo River Parkway runs through Provo. A bit more south, the Spanish Fork River Trail goes through Spanish Fork. If you are looking for a leisurely stroll, a run, birdwatching, or biking, this trail is fully paved. It is also wheelchair accessible and only intersects with one road. There is plenty to see along the 11-mile trail, perfect for families and nature enthusiasts alike. Dogs are welcome on this trail but must be kept on leash.

Like Battle Creek Falls? You’ll love Grotto Falls.
The waterfalls native to Utah Valley are one of its most appealing features to those from out of town. Grotto Falls is located along the Nebo Loop, and is less than a mile away from a beautiful half-cave with a waterfall pouring into a pool. This destination is great during warmer months, as you can wade in the grotto pool or simply wet your feet. This is also great in the fall, thanks to all of the vibrant foliage. This hike was damaged recently by the Bald Mountain fire of 2018, so they are a few scars along the trail, but the hike is still remarkably beautiful. Note that this hike can be a bit crowded due to its accessibility and beauty, and can be closed due to heavy snowfall.

Lake Hardy Surrounded by Pinetrees
Like Mt. Timpanogos? You’ll love Lake Hardy.
The hike to the peak of Mt. Timpanogos is long and strenuous, but the views are oh so rewarding. If you enjoy that kind of challenge, check out the Lake Hardy trail during the months of June to November. This is a 12-mile round-trip hike perfect for the experienced adventurer. The final destination: a stunning lake, nestled high in the Lone Peak Wilderness. This is the perfect spot to truly be alone in nature. Hikers warn that this trail is a little overgrown, and recommend wearing long pants and bringing poles.

Like Fairyland Loop? You’ll love Dry Canyon Trail.
Dry Canyon Trail is considered a more difficult hike thanks to its sudden increases in elevation and steep terrain. It is perfect if you are looking to get some exercise on your hike. It is a 5.4 mile loop that is perhaps best known for its beautiful wildflowers and view of the lake towards the end of the loop. This hike is recommended for the summer months and the early fall, but can get muddy if there has been a lot of rainfall in the area. The best part of this trail is the stunning cliff-face at the mouth of the valley. This is also dog-friendly.

The beautiful scenery of Utah Valley makes it extremely popular with tourists, especially those looking to spend more time in nature. By choosing a lesser-known hiking destination, you can experience the Utah Valley like a local, often without battling crowds and congestion on the trails during the popular summer months. These hikes all vary in length, difficulty, and scenery, so you are sure to find something that meets your needs and perfectly completes your Utah Valley outdoor experience. Be sure to bring plenty of water, dress appropriately for the weather, and leave nature exactly as you found it.

Happy hiking!

Friday, May 29, 2020

Discover 7 of the Best Campgrounds in Utah County

Discover 7 of the Best Campgrounds in Utah County

Looking to plan a camping trip in the great outdoors this summer? Want to experience the natural beauty of Utah? With stunning scenery ranging from mountain vistas to serene waterfronts, camping in Utah County offers all sorts of landscape varieties all within driving distance of the Salt Lake City metropolitan area.

Utah Lake beneath the mountains

For all those boating and fishing enthusiasts out there, this is a must-visit campground destination. Located less than an hour’s drive from Salt Lake City (and only 10 minutes from Hines Mansion), Utah Lake State Park gives you access to Utah Lake, the largest freshwater lake in the state. Some of the waterfront amenities include boat slips, a marina, and fish cleaning stations so that you can take your catch straight from your boat to the barbeque. The campgrounds are located on the east side of the lake and offer shower/restroom facilities, playgrounds, and hiking trails. Everything has been recently renovated for a comfortable camping experience. It’s also conveniently located next to the Provo River Trail, which is a scenic and accessible path for every level of hiker.

Tent and campfire beneath trees

If you’re looking to escape the crowds, this is an up-and-coming campground to add to your must-visit list in Utah County. Lincoln Beach is located along the southeast portion of Utah Lake’s shoreline and has been recently updated to offer water and restroom facilities for its visitors. These well-maintained campgrounds are ideal for water enthusiasts who need easy access to Utah Lake for kayaking, canoeing, and other water activities. However, the main draw is the recently-installed floating boat dock that offers you direct access to everything Utah Lake has to offer. Although the campground is on the small side, the shoreline offers majestic views of the lake and surrounding mountains.

Nunn's Park Campground Entrance

Best known for being the first hydro-power plant in the United States, this lush campground is located along the Provo River Parkway and near Bridal Veil Falls. Visitors can take advantage of biking and jogging trails, picnicking, wildlife viewing, and fishing during their stay at Nunns Park. There are also pavilions available to rent for larger group dinners or functions if needed. The campgrounds also allow dogs and offer amenities including barbecue grills, fire pits, and drinking fountains near the campsites.

Willow Park Entrance

This campground offers something for everyone. Located near the Jordan River, Willow Park’s campsites offer easy access to hiking trails, a canoe dock on the Jordan River, and a playground for the kids. The campgrounds also feature plenty of grassy fields for group sports.

Tent by the river

Granite Flat is another great option if you’re planning a camping trip with a large group of people. The spacious campgrounds feature full amenities, including restrooms, picnic tables, and even a baseball field for group sporting events. It’s also conveniently located in an area with several sightseeing spots within driving distance. Make sure to visit Timpanogos Cave and take an underground cave tour if you decide to stay here. This spot can easily provide a full day’s entertainment for adults and children alike.

Family of four camping

This is one of the more unique campgrounds featured on this list. It offers all the usual camping amenities – picnic tables, grills, access to trails – as well as a historic amphitheater that gives the campground its name. With access to several trailheads as well as a waterfall nearby, you won’t run out of sightseeing options or activities at Theatre-in-the-Pines. This would be a great option to visit with friends or family for a more unique camping experience.

People by campfire and tent

While all the other options on this list require reservations, this campground is great to keep in mind if you’re an experienced camper who wants to go on a spontaneous last-minute camping trip. With access to beautiful trails and ample space to view the surrounding majestic mountain scenery, Salamander Flat doesn’t reserve campsites and is first-come, first-serve. Before planning your trip, also keep in mind that this campground doesn’t offer any of the amenities that the other campgrounds on this list offer. While you’ll need to bring your own water and won’t have access to electrical power at your campsite, the unspoiled views and access to trails are unparalleled, making this a great destination for an experienced camper.

One thing to note regarding all of the campgrounds listed above—before setting out on your next camping trip, make sure to check online if reservations are needed or if there are any campsite rules or restrictions. For example, all of the sites maintained by the United States Department of Agriculture limits camping to a maximum of two nights unless your family brings an RV or trailer with its own restroom and showering facilities. Carefully review each park’s reservation policies and amenities before deciding on where best fits your wants and needs.

With its proximity to mountain ranges, rivers, and a freshwater lake, Utah County encompasses some of the best campsites that the state has to offer. Camping experts and novices alike will appreciate all seven of these destinations for their amenities and access to stunning mountains, lakes, and trails to take advantage of. There truly is something for every type of camper in Utah County.