hikes in Utah
From the famous southwestern deserts to the mountains and jagged peaks east of Salt Lake City, Utah is an outdoors lovers paradise. Utah is a great state to find adventure, with plenty of opportunities to hike, bike, ski, climb or canoe the most beautiful parts of this state. The best part is that there is a way to get outside any time of the year, thanks to the hot deserts in winter and the alpine peaks in summer.
Utah has to have the most variety of terrain out of any state in the US. We love the national parks in Utah, such as Zion, Canyonlands, Bryce and Arches National Parks. There are also great national forests, with our favourite being Uinta-Wasatch.
While Utah is known for their deserts and canyons, there are also stunning mountains throughout the state. Head east of Salt Lake City and up into the Little or Big Cottonwood Canyons and explore some of the best hiking, skiing and trekking in the US. Head farther east and you hit the remote and beautiful Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest. Largely undeveloped, the hikes from the highway are sublime.
And who can forget the mountain biking paradise of Moab. Regarded as the mecca for mountain bikers, this small-town oozes coolness, and is one of our favourite towns in the US.
20 Greatest Hikes in Utah
Immerse yourself into the varying terrain of Utah for an adventure of a lifetime. Hike through cavernous, dusty-red canyons, or perhaps hit the desert for an epic walk past towering cactuses and unique rock formations that will have you feeling like you’ve landed on another planet. For a more challenging day out in nature, why not try hiking up one of the surrounding mountain summits to get the legs burning? There are plenty of options, you just have to pick one and hit the trails!
- Fairyland Loop Trail: Take in some of the most unique clusters of hoodoo formations in Bryce Canyon park on the aptly named Fairyland Loop trail
- Cassidy Trail: This challenging, but seriously epic hike is a can’t miss in Little Bryce Canyon. Slowly increasing in elevation with an exposed ridgeline, take in incredible views over Mexican Peak Hat.
- Queens Garden to Navajo Loop Trail: While crowded at times, this popular trail is one of the best ways to explore Bryce Canyon’s famous hoodoos and stunning rock formations.
- Delicate Arch: If you’re visiting Moab National Park, you’re going to want to see the famed arches that are one of the most photographed spots in the world. This hike has extreme elevation grade, but it’s worth it to see the natural landmarks at the top.
- Dead Horse Point: Incredible views from start to finish, this hike in Moab National Park will knock your socks, err hiking boots, right off!
- Fisher Towers: This trail is loved by locals and travellers alike for its views over scenic sandstone towers, the expansive valley and the famous Colorado River.
- Devils Garden Loop: To take in all the breathtaking arches located within Moab National Park, you’ll want to hike this loop passing Pine Tree Arch, Landscape Arch, Tunnel Arch and more.
- Grandstaff Trail: This hike remains a classic for good reason, as hikers traverse a narrow canyon and end at Morning Glory Bridge–– this is a can’t miss experience. With little elevation gain, this makes for a great family-friendly hike.
- Red Pine Lake & Pfeifferhorn Ridge: For an epic, highly rewarding hike, climb the Pfeifferhorn Ridge, which involves some scrambling to reach the top! Once at the summit, enjoy 360-degree views as far as the eye can see.
- Box Elder Peak: With incredible elevation change, this hike is not for the faint of heart. Ascend up the ridge of Box Elder Peak to take in views over much of Salt Lake City and beyond.
- Silver Lake: To enjoy peace and tranquility near Salt Lake City, head to Silver Lake, which remains largely unexplored in part due to its 3.0mi dirt road access. Once you arrive, jump in for a refreshing dip to cool off!
- Sunset Peak: To experience the best of the alpine lakes Utah has to offer, try the Sunset Peak hike. Passing Dog Lake, Lake Mary, Lake Martha and Lake Catherine, you’re guaranteed a few photo-worthy moments!
- Bald Mountain Trail: For some of the best views of all of Utah, set out on the classic Bald Mountain hike. While short and grueling, you won’t regret it once you get to the top!
- The Narrows: Prepare to get soaked on this epic thru-canyon hike! This is more of a wade, but it's worth it to take the canyon from ground level.
- Angel's Landing: Set out on arguably the most popular hike in all of Zion National Park to take in some of the most incredible views. Don’t underestimate the climb, it’s a tough, but worthwhile pursuit!
- Hidden Canyon: This hike is perfect for those a little shorter on time, who want to pass some of the switchbacks to Observation Point. Take in all the best views of Zion National Park, without the challenging climbs.
- Portal Overlook: Often overlooked for other trails in Moab, this hike offers serine, well-graded paths, while still hitting the highlights of the park.
- Devil's Garden: If you’re short on time, this hike runs down an incredible narrow canyon, passing picturesque sandstone cliffs and desert towers on the way.
- Balanced Rock: No trip is complete to Moab without spotting the unique balanced rock. This odd rock formation is a quick jaunt from the parking lot if you’re short on time.
- Mossy Cave Trail: Short and sweet, this trail runs past dozens of hoodoos and ends at the stunning Tropic Ditch Falls, perfect for a family-friendly afternoon.
When is the Best Time to Hike in Utah
Our favourite time to hike in Utah is the shoulder seasons: spring and fall. The months of April-May and September-October offer incredible weather, with sunny, moderate temperatures. You can expect the occasional cool spell or rainy day during the shoulder seasons, but it’s far too hot to hike during the summer months without breaking a major sweat and risking heat stroke.
Best Regions to Hike in Utah
There are endless opportunities for hiking in the great Utah wilderness! But to help you out, we’ve narrowed it down to our absolute favourite regions within the state. Bryce Canyon National Park is famous for its incredible desert scenery, ranging from hoodoos to canyons to cactuses. Moab and Arches National Park is much-loved among the mountain biking community and incredible natural arches scattered throughout the parks. Salt Lake City is the perfect destination where urban meets the outdoors, with plenty to see and do in and around the city. Just 75.0mi east of Salt Lake, lies another incredible mountain town that often lies under the radar. Uintas Mountains offers plenty of epic mountains to conquer, as well as pristine lakes perfect for a dip. Perhaps one of the most notable regions, Zion National Park is high on the bucket list for its sandstone rocks, the stunning Virgin River and verdant plant life.
Other Activities in Utah
Utah is an outdoor lovers paradise. There are few places quite like it in the world, nevermind the U.S. You can accomplish any outdoor adventure calling your name, whether it be mountain biking, scrambling, skiing, rock climbing, kayaking, white water rafting, or even horseback riding. You name it, they got it.
How to Plan a Trip to Utah
Dreaming of planning your dream hiking vacation in Utah? We’ve got you covered with our complete guides on planning a trip to the red rocky state, outlining the best spots far and wide for food and a cold beer, cozy hotels, and fun activities to fill your day. From Bryce Canyon National Park, to Zion National Park, to Moab and Arches National Park, to Salt Lake City, to Uintas Mountains—we took out all the guesswork, leaving more time for hitting the trails.Read More