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.
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.
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.
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.
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.