Cascade Mountain (10,908 ft) is the large mountain located directly above Orem, Utah and is one of the "Wasatch 7" Peaks. Not many people hike to summit, as it requires a full day and all routes are difficult. However, for Peak Baggers it's a must. It's crazy how just to the north of Provo Canyon is one of the most popular summits - Mt. Timpanogos. It's also interesting how different the terrain is compared to each other, and how much more difficult Cascade is.
There are several routes to reach the summit:
Upper Pole Couloir This is the most popular route, as it is the shortest in distance. It's 2.2 miles to the summit, however it gains 3,600 ft. There's no trail, and it requires some route finding. You should be comfortable with very steep inclines, as well as bushwhacking. This is the route we down back down to the car. Dry Fork Trail #060 This is the 2nd most popular route, as it follows a trail for most of the way. You begin by hiking up Dry Fork, where you'll hike near the base of Freedom Peak, then reach the saddle. From the saddle, the trail turns into a climbers route, requiring more route finding, some light scrambling, and a lot of up and down hiking. This route is 6.75 miles to the summit with 3,800 ft elevation gain. This is the route I will be describing for our hike up. Big Springs The least popular route is via Big Springs Park, beginning on the East side of Cascade Mountain. This route is roughly 6 miles to the summit and closer to 4,000 ft elevation gain, though I've heard this trail has the most downed trees and overgrowth.
Whichever route you choose, start early (no later than 6am in summer). This is a long, dry, and hot trail. Be prepared with plenty of water and food. On big peaks I like to carry a separate water bottle that I can drop a Nuun Hydration Electrolyte in to help ward off dehydration and headaches on the summit. Cascade Mountain is one of the most avalanche prone mountains, and therefore the best time to do this hike is sometime between July - October when the road is open, and the trail is free of snow.
From SLC head south on I-15 and take exit 272 for 800 S. Use the left lane to curve onto HWY 189 to enter Provo Canyon. Drive 4.1 miles and turn right at the brown sign for Squaw Peak Overlook. From here, reset your odometer. At 4.1 miles turn left at the "T", and the road becomes a well-graded dirt road. Drive another 6 miles exactly, until you see a small pullout on both side of the now rough dirt road for Trail 060 on the East side of the road, and the Rock Canyon TH on the West side of the road. Park here if there's room, or find parking long the dirt road nearby. Small cars will not have enough clearance to reach the TH, but SUVs or larger will be fine driving slowly. Even though it's only 10 miles total from the Provo Canyon turn off, driving this road will take closer to 30-45 minutes.
Just want to emphasize that small cars will not do well past this sign. Make sure you have an SUV or larger to reach the TH.
6.75 miles up to the summit via Dry Fork
2.2 miles down via the Upper Pole Couloir
8.9 miles total
Elevation gain: 3,861 ft
It took us almost 6 hours to summit, and about 2 hours down the couloir, so roughly 8-10 hours
Dog friendly? Dogs are technically allowed, however I would highly discourage you from bringing them due to the exposure on the ridge, steepness, hot temps, and long day. If you do decide to bring a dog, carry a minimum of 3 liters of water per dog.
Kid friendly? No
We started up the Dry Fork Trail by 6:20am. The temperatures were much cooler and there was a nice breeze.
The first 3 miles are pretty uneventful. You just work your way up the basin until you reach the saddle. We started out with 4 people and 2 dogs in the group.
Below Freedom Peak the trail will curve back North.
At 2.8 miles you'll see a faint trail split, go left, and traverse along one of the old erosion flats. If you go right, you will hike uphill, and you want to reach the saddle in front of you.
At the saddle - 3.3 miles. From here the trail turns into a "climbers route" - the trail fades in and out. Always stay close to the ridge from here on out - if you drop down you'll have to hike that much more uphill. And trust me - it gets tiring just following the ridge.
Pass this structure on your right - it looked like some kind of trough with a hose in it. Remember - stay on the ridge! We though it might be easier to go around this hill and we were wrong! We had to hike straight uphill to get back on the ridge.
There are A LOT of ups and downs on this route.
Chris leads the way - he is a beast!
Amazing views looking South.
Wow...that ridge, though!
Ummm...we're going all the way over there?! Yikes. Not even joking, this ridge was pretty intimidating for me and I've done a lot of ridges! It just seemed soooo far! Gotta be on top of your mental game for this summit. By this point we already lost one of our friends and his dog to getting spooked out along the ridge. It would later be a blessing that he turned around....keep reading.
You can tell that there is barely a trail in some spots. Once you are on it it's fairly easy to follow, it just fades in/out a lot.
This is the first section I almost bailed out. Hiking around the edge to this section was super loose talus and pretty steep. I had Chris get ahead to scope it out for us, and he called it good so we continued on. You can barely see him in this photo.
View from where Chris was, looking back at me.
You'll also have to duck or hop over lots of fallen trees. We thought these stacked rocks were pretty cool.
Only one more super steep loose section, right?
5 minute break to enjoy the views.
Miles 4-5 are definitely the worst. If you can make it past that section and reach this amazing view of Utah Lake, then you can make it the rest of the way. I feel like those last 2 miles are where most people, like me, probably want to bail, but it gets easier from there. Us girls took another quick break while Chris wanted some extra mileage and went out to the point.
I love ridges - when they are level!
I thought the best view was from point 10,760 ft. I just loved the sharp edges, the view of Cascade Mountain, Mt. Timpanogos in the far distance, and overall relief that we were almost there. This was the second spot I almost bailed. I thought, "Will I be ok with it if I stop here?" I could just say that you only need to go another mile in my blog, but not actually do it, right? I knew deep down I would be pissed at myself for not doing it, after making it that far. When I said you need to be prepared mentally for this, it's so true. I knew I had the energy to keep going but I was getting mentally beat down. I said to myself, "Nope, get up, you're doing it!" Only 0.8 miles to go!
The ridge is a little steep after the 10,760 ft peak, but totally doable to get down.
Hiking down hill for just a few minutes felt so much better for my legs. I started to perk up when I realized how close we actually were.
Looking back at where we just camp from. Wow! It felt like it only took 5 minutes to reach this saddle.
Ready to learn about the BEST Dog Friendly Waterfall Hikes in Utah?
I've complied all of them into one post - no more researching, asking around, or spending hours looking at AllTrails. All of these listed are dog-friendly (off leash) of course, and are separated by location. There are not ranked in any order. Click the link for each hike to learn more, to see all the trail stats (distance, elevation gain, etc), and to view a trail map. Directions are also provided for each hike.
Adams Canyon WaterfallAdam's Canyon Waterfall is one of Utah's most beautiful waterfalls. Nestled into the end of the canyon, and surrounded by trees and rock, sits this 40 ft waterfall. It's a very scenic trail, as it weaves its way along the stream, where dogs can play and you can dip your feet in when its hot outside. This is a popular hike year-round, and gets crowded by mid-morning. Set your alarm clock so you can get up early early to enjoy the falls alone. In Summer expect to pass literally 100 people or more.
Battle Creek FallsBattle Creek Falls is another family friendly, dog friendly, and child friendly waterfall hikes that is enjoyable as more of a stroll rather than a "hike". It's short distance and elevation gain make this hike do-able for family visiting from out of town that want to see something pretty, yet not have to work hard to get there. It's a great spot to take your dog when it's too hot, as they are allowed off leash and love playing in the stream.
Deuel Creek (pronounced like do-ell) is located along the East bench in Centerville, UT just south of Parrish Creek and north of Holbrook Canyon. Deuel Creek is sometimes shown as Centerville Creek on older maps - whatever you prefer to call it, this trail is great for the whole family. It follows the creek the entire way, crosses several bridges, passes by a fun rope swing, and leads to a waterfall. What's great about this trail is that it is shaded for most of the hike. Dogs will appreciate the water and shade in summer, and kids will find that this hike isn't too hard for their little legs either.
The Davis Creek Waterfall is accessed via the Davis Creek Trail, and is a good hike for all levels of hikers. At only 1 mile (RT), this hike is somewhat steep the first section, but soon levels out with a view of the waterfall. There are several trails that branch off of the Davis Creek Trail, so if you have time I suggest doing all of it. However, if you are short on time but still want a great destination, the waterfalls is the perfect turnaround point.My two favorite things about this trail are that dogs are allowed off leash, and of course, the waterfalls itself.
The Farmington Canyon Trail and waterfall is one of my new favorite trails in Davis County. I was surprised at how big this canyon felt, how green it is in Spring, and I loved the 40 ft waterfall. Our dogs had a blast on this trail since there were plenty of stream crossings for them to drink from and play in. The Farmington Canyon Trail is really well shaded, not too steep, and parallels the Farmington Canyon Road. Since this trail is on a south facing slope, this would be a great trail to snowshoe in winter. Be advised that the winter gate is only open from mid-May to mid-October, depending on snow. If the winter gate is closed, you'll need to add on another 1.5 miles before you get to the trailhead.
Heugh's Canyon Waterfall is situated between Big Cottonwood Canyon and Mt. Olympus, making this a dog friendly hike. The trail starts from the elite Cove Canyon neighborhood on the East side on Wasatch Blvd. It's very forested (not what you think of if you've hiked Mt. Olympus), it follows Heugh's Creek, in Spring several flowers are blooming, and it leads to a gorgeous waterfall. At only a few minutes from SLC, this canyon makes you feel like you are in the Pacific Northwest, away from the city bustle. At only 2 miles round trip, kids and families visiting would even enjoy this hike.
First Falls is the, well, the first waterfall along the Aspen Grove Trail, a popular route to the Mt. Timpanogos summit. First Falls is only 1 mile up the Aspen Grove Trail, and is paved for half of it. The first half paved section is rocky, from when the forest service reconstructed the trail due to a wash out from heavy snow melt. The second half is paved from when the trail first went in, in the early 1930s. First Falls is fun for the whole family, and those looking for a short, yet scenic destination.
Stewart Falls is a two tier waterfall located near Sundance Ski Resort in Provo Canyon. The best time to hike here is in late spring, when the snow has melted from the trail and the waterfall is raging. This is a great hike for all levels of hikers since it's not too long, not too steep, and mostly shaded. Because of this, the trail gets very crowded on weekends. Arrive early to beat the crowds. This 200 ft waterfall is surrounded by a large rock face, and if you look closely, in Spring you'll see other small waterfalls near it.
Waterfall Canyon is located in Ogden, UT and is a gorgeous 200 ft waterfall. This short but sweet hike will definitely get your heart pumping - the trail climbs just over 1,000 ft in 1.25 miles. Waterfall Canyon is accessible year-round, but I find it prettiest in the winter when the waterfall is frozen. I can't help but sing to myself, "Let it go! Let it go!" from the movie Frozen.
Gordon Creek Waterfall is a lesser-know falls near Price, Utah. Most people like to arrive here by ATV, however it's a super easy hike that is great for the whole family. You may also see horseback riders on this trail so be careful when turning a corner. Gordon Creek Waterfall is located in a flash flood area, so it's not recommend to be in this area after a heavy rain. The trail is fully exposed to all elements, so be prepared to take plenty of water and sunscreen with you. You can get up close to the falls, but be careful as the rocks are slippery and the water is moving faster than it looks.
Faux Falls in Moab is a very short walk, that the whole family will enjoy. "Faux" is French for "false" or "fake", hence the name. Faux Falls was built in 1981 along with Ken's Lake, when a drought in the early 1970s pressed for the need of more water for Moab and surrounding areas. Though this "faux falls" isn't natural, it sure feels like a real waterfall. The 2-3 foot deep pool at the bottom makes for a great shallow swimming area for kids and dogs.
The North Fork of Mill Creek Canyon is perfect for dogs and kids, since it is only 1 mile to the 1st natural waterfall, and is considered the "locals swimming hole". In Summer, be prepared to see possibly hundreds of people here on the weekends. Since it's so accessible, it gets crowded quick - start early in the morning to have a quiet hike and enjoy the sounds of the stream. You may even see people jumping from the cliff side, but it's not recommended.
Mary Jane Slot Canyon is one of Moab's hidden gems - the "trail" is a creek the entire way, which leads to a 30 ft waterfall. This is a great trail to do when Moab is too hot, and you, the dogs, or kids need to cool off. The canyon walls get higher as you hike further into the canyon, and eventually will reach upwards of 100 ft! There are several side canyons that allow for exploring tighter slot canyons. One warning for Mary Jane Slot Canyon is that, like with any other slot canyon, you do NOT want to hike here during or right after a rainstorm due to the possibility of a flash flood. You'll want to wear water shoes for this hike - 90% of the "trail" is hiking through the creek.
Lower Calf Creek Falls is one of the most popular trails near Escalante, UT and in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. This easy 3 mile hike leads to a beautiful oasis with a 214 ft waterfall. Because this hike is so easy and low in elevation, it's a great family hike for visitors with older folks, kids, and even the dogs! All of the green trees and creek will make you forget your are in the desert, and as you approach the waterfalls the mist will cool you off. Feeling adventurous? Bring your swimsuit and swim in the pool of clear water at the base of the falls. You'll want to start hiking early to beat the heat and the crowds.
Upper Calf Creek Falls is neighbor to Lower Calf Creek Falls yet sees less than half the visitors. This hike is only 1.2 miles to a beautiful waterfall, and deep pools above the falls that make for a great swim. The terrain is quite different from Lower Calf Creek Falls. The lower trail follows the bottom of a canyon, with tall red sandstone walls, and a lush green creek. The upper trail is more exposed, following a trail of old volcanic rock and is on top of the canyon. The rock at the pools above the falls is smoothed out over time, but be careful at the base of the falls - poison ivy lines the alcove.
Singletree Falls is a short, family-friendly hike on Boulder Mountain, Utah. It's conveniently located off the popular HWY 12 in between Torrey and Boulder, UT. Singletree Falls flows from Singletree Creek, overflowing at a 30 ft waterfall.
This trail is only 0.8 miles round-trip, making it a perfect distance for kids, families, and older adults. This trail is also great for the pups, as it is off leash. Wear your water shoes, maybe a swimsuit, and stand under the falls for a refreshing natural shower.
The Shingle Creek Trail in the High Uintas is a popular trail for an "early season" trail for hikers and backpackers to follow when the higher elevations haven't thawed out from winter. I have driven past this trail so many times, yet had never done it - until now! I decided to head up for one night with two friends and our destination was South Erickson Lake. East Shingle Creek Lake is more popular, but a little lower in elevation, and seemed to have more mosquitos so we wanted to keep going. This trail, I found out, is extremely hot in the middle of summer. It was close to 90F when we hiked it. Therefore, I would highly recommend saving this route for a Fall trip. Yes, there is a stream along the way and two lakes to stop at, but generally this trail is exposed making it feel really hot and sweaty. You start hiking at 7,800 ft and end at 10,000 ft so it can be a slower hike if you aren't used to the elevation. If you still really want to this in summer, I suggest to start hiking no later than 6am to beat the heat. Dogs are able to do this trail, but horses and bikes also use this trail so have a leash handy in case you come across either, or near wildlife. Keep in mind that the Uintas can get cold at night, and they also get the daily afternoon thunderstorm. When backpacking to any part of the Uintas, be prepared for any kind of weather, and especially mosquitoes.
From Kamas, Utah drive East along the Mirror Lake Highway for 10 miles, and turn left at the brown sign for Shingle Creek TH. It's just past the Shingle Creek Campground. The trail starts at the larger green gate, in the NW corner of the dirt parking lot.
Kid friendly? No, due to distance and elevation gain
The Mirror Lake Highway charges a $6 fee for a 3 day pass. It's free if you have an annual Mirror Lake Hwy, American Fork Canyon pass, or annual National Park Pass. No permit is required.
The Shingle Creek TH official sign.
Start from the bigger green gate - there is a small one to the right of this. Both lead the same way, but the small green gate is the "old" trail with lots of downed trees. This one with the brown signs is the correct/new way. Right away you'll hike up a hill, and within 10 minutes of hiking cross the first bridge with a tin silo structure.
The first 2.5 miles are flat and shaded.
There are a few places for dogs to stop and drink as well. Even though there is a creek most of the way, the trail goes in and out of following it so I recommend carrying a minimum of 2 liters of water. On the way back down because it was so hot I ran out of water the last 2 miles.
The views start to open up with a nice, rocky area on the West side of the trail.
Passing by a nice meadow. There was also a campsite right around the corner if you wanted a shorter trip (though I imagine the bugs are worst here).
Cross the 2nd bridge at 2.4 miles.
Right after the 2nd bridge is where you'll start to gain elevation, in an open sandy/rocky trail.
This part was the worst section of trail for me because it was SO HOT! There is zero shade here, plus the uphill is kind of steep. At the top of this section it will level out for about 1/2 mile.
The 3rd bridge at mile 3.4 is no longer here. You can see the remnant of it to the left of Troy, in the shade. There are plenty of rocks and logs to get across dry though.
Once again the trail gradually climbs uphill, and it gets even hotter!
Another nice meadow, as we get closer to the first trail split.
5.9 miles reach the Shingle Creek Trail split - stay right/straight. If you turn back, uphill in a southerly direction, that will take you to the Upper Setting TH parking. Starting from there would make for a much shorter hike in - only 1.5 miles to East Shingle Creek Lake, and 3 miles one way to S. Erickson Lake. However, you do need 4x4 drive to make it up the long dirt road.
Charlie takes a break in the shade - it was just too hot for him. This is why I recommend waiting to do this hike in the Fall once the temps cool off.
Only .1 miles from the trail split you'll reach East Shingle Creek Lake.
We thought about camping here but it seemed a bit buggy. We figured it we kept going another 1.5 miles to South Erickson Lake the bugs would be better, and would have cooler temps since we would be at 10,000 ft. There were a few nice campsites here though. We could only see one campsite occupied on the other side of the lake.
So we kept going. Charlie sought shade wherever possible.
We reached the pass, and as soon as we started downhill again, we saw this sign. I thought it was kind of funny because, don't all trails have the possibility of everything listed? LOL! It didn't prevent us from continuing, and the trail was just fine. Yes a few logs to hike over, but there were logs on the lower part of the trail too.
We knew we were finally close when we crossed a small stream.
PS - if you are looking to go ultralight (UL), I highly recommend Waymark Gear Co. for a UL backpack. It weighs only 2 lbs for a 50 liter pack!
Turn right at the trail split. Left would take you down to Smith & Moorehouse Reservoir. We actually met a group of about 12 people that had hiked up from that route, and they said it was only 5 miles to S. Erickson Lake. So there's a 3rd option for you to reach this area!
Finally at 7.5 miles we reached our destination.
South Erickson Lake!
We set up camp, and I got to test out my new tent!
For the past 4-5 years I've been using the Kelty TN2, which weighed close to 5 lbs! Yikes. I had been saving up some REI gift cards, and finally made the upgrade to a 2 lb tent - the MSR Freelite 2! I couldn't believe how light this tent was - and super easy to set up! It will definitely fit two of us plus Charlie. My base weight on my pack for one night is now 22 lbs yahoo!
The water was so clear we decided to swim! I'm very nervous around water, but I was able to swim about 15 feet out to a large boulder in the lake that I could sit on. I hate swimming, but this was doable, and the water temp was so refreshing!
Ok, maybe I did have fun in the water! But, Charlie also makes everything more enjoyable for me.
He loved swimming for sticks - his favorite!
One thing I have been lucky with with Charlie - he will put himself to bed when he's ready haha! He's so cute when he's sleepy.
He also enjoys watching the sunset.
It looks cramped but because it was just the two of us, we spread out.
Mt. Watson (11,521 ft) is located on the East side of the High Uintas Wilderness, and though it is surrounded by several popular trails and lakes, most people do not summit this peak. There is a trail for the first 2 miles, but you're on your own after that to reach the top. That's what makes part of this peak fun - it's a "choose your own path" adventure! Hiking in the Uintas offers a cool relief from the valley heat, but that means you'll be hiking at an elevation of 10-11,000 ft. The Uintas are known for have daily afternoon thunderstorms as well, so be prepared for any kind of weather.
This peak is not for the beginner hiker or kids. You should be comfortable with heights, and steep, loose boulders. Dogs should do well, as long as they too, have plenty of peak bagging experience and their paws are used to hiking over rough terrain. There is plenty of water for the dogs to drink from on the trail, but you should have at least 1 liter on the way to the summit.
From Kamas, UT drive East along the Mirror Lake Highway for 25.4 miles and turn left at the sign for the Crystal Lake Trailhead. Follow the signs for Crystal Lake, and park at the main lot. You may have to park in the overflow lot.
At exactly 2 miles, you'll see a rocky opening in the trees on your left (West) side. This is where you'll want to start hiking up along the ridge to Mt. Watson. It's right at the south end of Clyde Lake. This is also where you'll start hiking your own route - there is no trail.
We saw this pile of rocks and hoped it was a cairn, but there was a note in a ziplock bag about it being a hideaway for Ranger gear.
Generally you'll want to stay on the East side of the Mt. Watson ridge.
Working up higher and higher. It was SO steep that I just made up my own switchbacks to reach the ridge. Don't forget to look back at your views.
The worst part of this hike for me was initially getting of the trail and the hike up to the ridge. It's just really steep and you have to choose your own route. We aimed for the small snow patches along the ridge.
Nearing towards the ridge.
Once on the ridge the hike gets easy again, as you simply follow it to the summit.
A long patch of snow still remained on July 4th!
The ridge to the summit is all lava rock - if you bring your dog, make sure they have prior experience in this kind of terrain. When I've dog sat in the past and brought them along, they all tore up their pads and bled, or tore nails. Make sure you have a Dog First Aid Kit in case something happens. Charlie regularly does peaks with me and is used to rough rock.
It was easiest to hike up the ridge next to the snow patch since it was a little slippery - but you know on the way down we glissaded!
The boys lead the way! Almost there.
On the summit! Took us 1 hour 40 minutes. There was no summit register so who ever goes up next, it would be nice to have one :)
Great views to the NE! Clyde Lake & Wall Lake are the two biggest lakes you can see. Bald Mountain is in the distance as well. You can also clearly see The Notch which takes you over to Ibantik Lake.
Family photo from the summit.
Just hanging out on the side of a mountain, no big deal LOL.
On the way back down we definitely wanted to glissade down!
Kermsuh Lake is an alpine lake in the High Uintas Wilderness. It sits at an elevation of 10,200 ft, making it the perfect cooler destination while the SLC valley is baking in heat. Kermsuh Lake sits in one of the three basins in Christmas Meadows - Ryder and Amethyst Lake are the other two, more popular lakes.
The trail is very mellow and "easy" for a backpacking trip at only 7 miles and 1,500 ft elevation gain. We camped only one night here, and never saw anyone once we turned off the main Stillwater Trail. The best months to backpack here are July - September, depending on when the trail is dry and the snow is gone. The Mirror Lake Highway gates typically opens Memorial Day Weekend, and closes around Halloween (again, weather dependent). This trail is also very dog friendly, and can be good for fishing.
Keep in mind that the Uintas can get cold at night, and they also get the daily afternoon thunderstorm. When backpacking to any part of the Uintas, be prepared for any kind of weather, and especially, mosquitoes.
From Kamas, UT head East along the Mirror Lake Highway for 50 miles. Turn right at the sign for Christmas Meadows. Drive to the very end of the road, where the trail begins.
Kid friendly? Maybe, depends on their backpacking experience
The Mirror Lake Highway charges a $6 fee for a 3 day pass. It's free if you have an annual Mirror Lake Hwy, American Fork Canyon pass, or annual National Park Pass. No permit is required.
I love stopping to take a photo of this sign every time I come here. It's perfectly posed with the background.
Ready to start hiking!
Balancing on the beams to avoid mud.
You'll cross several streams, but its easy to stay dry by walking on rocks and logs. That's one thing I never have to worry about with Charlie - carrying a ton of water in the Uintas. There is always water available.
Passing by a corn lily field. There were so many flowers blooming as well!
Another stream crossing. Charlie leads his dad across.
The trail is often muddy, but old wood ramps and rocks help you get across dry.
Pass the official High Uintas Wilderness sign at 2.4 miles.
We moved aside to let three pack horses pass us. That's one downside to the Uintas - there's always horse poop on the trails.
At 4.6 miles you'll reach the Kermsuh Lake trail split. Veer right here. By this point you have only gained 653 ft in elevation.
You'll cross Stillwater Creek by walking over a very steady log. Shoutout to Waymark Gear Co. for making the best UL Packs! My pack weighed in at 25 lbs for 1 night. I'm about to shave off another 3 lbs...keep an eye on my Facebook page for my new piece of gear this week! Charlie sports his Ruffwear Palisades Pack.
After the log crossing, the fun begins. You'll now begin to hike up a few switchbacks, and gain another 905 ft in elevation by the time you reach the lake. The hard uphill only lasts for about 3/4 of a mile though. Not too bad!
More stream crossings, yay!
Reach this beautiful meadow at 5.7 miles. It's a little hard to find the trail, so keep an eye out for cairns though this section. The meadow was a little marshy, but not so bad that I felt like I needed to put my water shoes on.
Getting closer. Though it looks hot here, the day time temps only got up to 62F! Such a relief from the hot valley temps. Beware that though its cooler, you can still get a bad sunburn!
Finally after 3 hours even, and 7 miles, we reached Kermsuh Lake! Wow, it's so pretty!
People on the main trail had warned us how bad the mosquitos were, so we made sure to find an open, windy campsite. We never felt like the bugs were that bad - they came out in the AM/PM but overall I hardly got any bites and Charlie was fine as well. We found this nice campsite with great views all around - this is A-1 Peak. PS - also check out my post on How to Keep Your Dog warm while Camping!
I can't get over how pretty this lake it. Best part? We literally never saw anyone at this lake or on the Kermsuh Lake Trail. Win!
Last year Ian bought this Alpaca Pack Raft for one of his trips. It weighs a mere 3.5 lbs, oar included. The Alpaca Pack Rafts are pretty pricey, but are great for floating in high alpine lakes you wouldn't normally be able to get out in. It's also sturdy enough for river runs. The material is strong enough to hold Charlie as well, and not pop from his paws.
It was really nice to float in the lake!
We were so surprised that no one else was at this lake on a weekend. It's a great lake to escape people! Ian tried fishing for awhile, and though we saw a handful jump, he didn't catch anything. So I would say this isn't the best fishing lake. There are however, plenty of tent and hammock sites.
Alpenglow over Kermsuh Lake.
Good morning! Sunrise over Hayden Peak! So cool to think that we summited it last summer!
Mt. Waas (12,331 ft) is the Grand County High Point, and highest peak on the north end of the La Sal Mountains near Moab, Utah. The La Sals can be seen as far away from Green River and parts of Colorado, yet hardly anyone makes the trek to the several summits available, making a great place to seek solitude. The Moab valley can be in the 100s for daily high temperatures in the Summer, yet in the LaSals, it can be at least 20-30F cooler depending on how high you reach. The La Sals area only accessible during summer months when the gates are open, and the roads are dry and clear of snow, typically July - October. Winter of 2017 was extremely dry so we were able to summit late June 2018 with only one patch of snow. One of the best things about the La Sals is that it is a super dog-friendly mountain range. There are no leash laws, and because of all the snow melt, there are plenty of streams and lakes to visit. Keep in mind that there is obviously wildlife here, and a leash should be handy at all times. Dogs should be able to hike long distances over rocky terrain, when summiting any peak in the La Sals. Be prepared with at least 3 liters of water per person/dog. The La Sals offer plenty of camping and backpacking as well. On my Utah Benchmark Atlas (my favorite road map book), it labels the TH with a campground. There is literally one campsite available here, so plan to camp at a larger campground nearby or lodge in Moab, UT.
From Moab you need to get on the LaSal Scenic Road, which is a point-to-point road. I highly recommend driving the whole route - up one way, back down the other after hiking, so you can see the whole thing. It's a really pretty drive. The scenic road is paved - all other roads are dirt.
Kid friendly? Maybe for older kids - depends on their peak bagging experience
LaSal Scenic Loop Road - Castle Valley Overlook.
Turn at the signed Miner's Basin TH (it is not signed if coming from the south - we had to turn around after missing the turn off initially).
Take FR 065 - you WILL need a 4x4 car to reach the TH. I would not advise that even mini-SUVs drive this. Only trucks and a 4Runner were driving along this road. There are also very few pull outs - so cross your fingers no one is coming the opposite way! The car more downhill is the one that needs to move - the upper car has the right of way.
You'll even need to moooove out of the way for cows.
Ready to hike by 8am!
For a bulk of the hike, you are hiking on an old jeep/mining road.
First trail split, go right. You'll quickly cross a stream.
I think these beautiful flowers are Utah Blue Delphinium.
Pass a red gate within 15 minutes of hiking. About another 10 minutes past this gate (0.8 miles from the TH), you'll see a junction with no trail split signs - go left. Make sure you are following another old jeep road and hiking uphill.
You should be hiking East, and now steadily gaining elevation.
At 1.4 miles you'll reach your first switchback. From here, the next 1.5 miles are switchbacks all the way up to the ridge that you can see here.
Climbing higher and higher...
The nice thing is, you can always see where the trail will go, up to the saddle.
Anyone know the name of this flower?
Whew, getting tired but still working hard. What a view to the NW! Moab is waaaay down there.
"We're going here?!"
At 3.0 miles you'll finally reach the saddle and have your first view of Mt. Waas! It looks really far away and super steep, but from the saddle its only about 0.8 miles and a net elevation gain of 350 ft. From the saddle, continue left.
Pass the old weather station.
Pano from the weather station - we're hiking to the peak on the left. The basin below is called Beaver Basin. You can also access Mt. Waas from this side, and drive up pretty close, however there is no trail. You would just need to pick your own route to the saddle, then catch the trail to the summit.
The only rocky area you have to climb down on the ridge, after the weather station.
Charlie and I make our way down to the 2nd saddle. The view from here of the trail to the saddle looks really intimidating. In my opinion, ridges or steepness always look way worse than they actually are. But keep in mind I have done a lot of peaks, and am more comfortable with these parts of the trail. Whereas my friends who hiked with me haven't done nearly as many peaks, and were a little more worried and slow. Just keep in mind that there's no rush to summit (unless you are trying to get a PR or something). Take your time, take as many breaks as you need, and you'll make it.
After hiking down from the weather station, we took a break at the 2nd saddle before making the last climb to the summit. The dogs enjoyed a break in the snow.
Now begins the fun. Charlie leads the way.
More amazing flowers on the ridge to the summit. I think this is one of my favorite photos from the hike.
Can you find Charlie?! Once again, it doesn't really look like there is a trail but once you are on it you can't get lost on the way up.
On the summit! It took me and Charlie 3.5 hours. What a happy pup! He seems to know he is on the summit.
I like taking my shoes off on the top to let me feet dry out and give them a break. I think this should be a commercial for the Darn Tough women socks! This view is looking directly south.
View looking North. You can't see it in the photo but you can see down to Castle Valley, the Colorado River, and Moab.
Deseret Peak (11,031 ft) is one of Utah's Ultra Prominent Peaks, is the tallest mountain in the Stansbury Mountain range, and the Tooele County highpoint. Therefore, this 9 mile loop is popular among peak baggers and those looking for an "easy" summit. This trail gains 3,700 ft in just 4 miles, is dog friendly, and offers amazing views of the surrounding area. The best time to hike here is typically June - November, or whenever the snow is mostly gone. However, you can still find patches of snow in June & July. While the valley can be in the 90s, Deseret Peak can still be very cold and windy on the summit. Bring plenty of water for you and your dogs. There is a stream at the beginning and end, but Charlie and I shared 3 liters of water between the two of us. Kids may be able to summit, depending on their peak bagging experience. I've even seen people carrying baby backpacks to the summit.
From SLC, head West on I-80 and take exit 99 for Tooele, UT. Drive 3.4 miles, then turn right on HWY 138. Drive 10.8 miles and turn left on S West St (you will also see a large brown sign for South Willow Canyon here). Drive 4.3 miles then turn right on S. Willow Drive for South Willow Canyon. Drive to the very end of the road to the trailhead. It's a dirt road, but well-graded. Any car can make it. There is a port-a-potty at the TH. The drive from SLC is about 1 hour 20 minutes.
Kid friendly? Ages 10+ depending on peak bagging experience
The trail starts at the end of the road in S. Willow Canyon.
You'll quickly pass the official Deseret Peak Wilderness sign. A good photo op!
The trail gradually gains elevation for the first 2 miles.
At 1.6 miles you'll come to an unsigned trail split - stay left and cross the creek. This is the first and last good water stop for the dogs for the next 7 miles (until you return back down the loop).
Across the creek is where you'll see the trail split, stay left. On your way back down the loop you'll come in from the right.
The next mile is very shaded and green!
The last 1/2 mile leading up to the saddle starts to get steeper.
You'll hike up several steep switchbacks.
Almost to the saddle! Troy sits below the saddle because the wind was probably 50 mph! I knew there were some trees on the ridge so I quickly ran up to those instead of waiting at the saddle for everyone to catch up.
Troy leads the way. The trail will lead you up to that snow patch above his head.
Whew - super windy! The temps weren't really that bad but the wind made it feel much colder. Wished I had gloves and a beanie! Thankfully Christa had an extra headband I could borrow to keep my hair out of my face.
Looking back at the girls making their way up. I love this views of this saddle area.
Looking South from the next ridge.
Charlie now takes the lead. Past the main saddle area the wind really wasn't that bad anymore.
Stopping to look at the first couloir.
Finally, on the summit! It took us around 3 hours to summit.
View to the North. Amazing! This is seriously one of my favorite peaks around the SLC area.
Once a lap dog, always a lap dog. Charlie keeps me warm on the summit.
Charlie did great! He's such a good trail dog.
Group photo! It was Julie & Terra's first peak EVER!!!! I was so excited and happy for them - they did amazing. Troy had attempted this hike three times before but due to various reason had not summited.
Time to work your way back down, creating a loop. Make sure you start hiking North to catch the trail down.
The trail is easy to follow down. There's this one spot where you have do scramble down a little, but it's not bad. I just scooted down on my butt.
Long switchbacks on the route down. Hiking poles are super helpful here.
Eventually you'll make it to the next saddle, before dropping down into the basin. I don't usually get hungry on the summit, so I finally ate at the saddle. I love these grown up "lunchables" form Harmon's - you can find them by the cheese and salami area for about $5. Perfect for hiking!
On that same snow patch, Troy and I decided to boot-ski down! Here's the view from my angle....
...And the view from Christa's phone!
Once again, you'll hike down long switchbacks.
The views from this basin are so pretty! When you get to the next trail split, turn right. Going left will take you to Willow Lake.
The best is saved for last! Can't get over this view of Desert Peak from the trail, looking South.
This first time I summited Deseret Peak was June 2014 - here's my summit photo from then. I could definitely tell a difference in my skill/cardio level this time around. I felt way more in shape, and I didn't have an asthma attack in 2018, yay!
It's crazy when I look back on this first time around, and think where my life was at that time. I was in a really tough place, mentally. Things turned around in about a year and half after that, but it was rough for awhile.
Climbing peaks and hiking has always helped me get through those times. One thing has always been constant - Charlie. I can't tell you how much having Charlie has helped me get through things in life - whether it's him just snuggling me, or being my trail pal, something about have a dog makes everything better. Love this little stinker!
Church Fork Peak (8,306 ft) is located along the Millcreek Canyon ridge, in-between Mt. Aire and Grandeur Peak. To get to the summit, you follow the Pipeline Trail, then turn off on the actual Birch Hollow trail, reach the ridge, then bushwhack your away to the false summit and true peak. This trail is very steep, and requires some route finding along the ridge. If you aren't comfortable hiking off trail, bushwhacking, and route finding, this isn't the trail for you.
Because the Birch Hollow Trail is West-facing, it can get really hot in the afternoon or after work. The ideal time to hike here is early morning, when the sun isn't burning down on you. There's quite a bit of shade, but that also means hardly any breeze to cool you off. There is also no water along this trail, so you'll need to carry at least 2-3 liters of water (more if you bring dogs). This is not a good hike for kids or families. I did this route solo, hiking up then jogging down. Round trip it took me about 3 hours (2 to the top, and 1:15 down). This trail is accessible year round, but would be most enjoyable in Spring and Fall.
Drive 4.3 miles up Millcreek Canyon, and park at the Birch Hollow TH on your left.
Fees/Permits? There is a $3 fee upon exit, or FREE if you buy the Annual Millcreek Pass ($40). Millcreek Canyon does NOT accept the National Park Pass, American Fork Pass, nor the Mirror Lake Highway pass. No permit is required to hike this trail.
The Birch Hollow TH will be on your left.
The trail immediately heads West (left), and it will feel like you are going the wrong way.
However you'll quickly see a trail split. Turn right, and hike up a few gradual switchbacks.
After the switchbacks your views will open up to the SE.
At 1.0 mile you will cross this tiny bridge, which also has a very small spring the dogs can drink from. Late in Summer this spring may be dry.
At 1.3 miles you will curve around this dried up creek. The map shows it as a stream, but it was bone dry for us. You should see this small brown restoration sign as well.
1.6 miles - this is your turn. Doesn't look like much. Turn left to begin hiking up Birch Hollow.
Once you turn you will see the official sign, but it's kind of high up on the right.
Now the fun begins! You'll definitely want to wear pants for this hike, as you can see its super overgrown and bushwhacky.
Whew, this hike is STEEP! I was sweating like crazy. See how its still quite overgrown? My legs got super scratched and beat up this hike.
Even the dogs took a break to rest!
Finally the view opens up to the south with a great view to Mt. Raymond! There was also a breeze finally, which helped cool things off.
The whole hike, you should always be looking up to this large white rock. The trail eventually goes right beneath it and to the left, before reaching the ridge.
Finally on the ridge!!! It felt like this took forever. This is looking directly North. From here, I couldn't quite find the trail heading West, but I could see one about 15 ft below me. I quickly got on that trail and hiked West.
Hiking West along the Millcreek ridge. This is where the trail gets extra bushwhacky. If you are not comfortable with a little route finding, then this is NOT the hike for you. However, as long as you stay near the ridge and don't drop down either side, you'll be fine. It's just really hard to find/see the already faint trail.
Eventually I cut across the brush, and start working up the false summit.
I had more fun taking pictures here than on the actual peak. This is looking directly East along the Millcreek Ridge. Mt. Aire is the next big peak.
He's my favorite :)
The lighting was so pretty in the evening!
From the false summit, keep hiking West until you reach Church Fork Peak. When you hike through the next Aspen grove, you'll see what looks like a trail split. Make sure you stay straight/left. Do NOT turn right - that will take you downhill on the North side of the ridge and away from the summit.
We reached Church Fork Peak in just under 2 hours! Nice view of Grandeur Peak to the West.
Church Fork Peak looking North. The very pointy peak in the distance is Grandview Peak.
Ahh love this furr-ball so much!
After spending some time on the peak, I figured it would be easier or better to connect over to the Grandeur Peak trail, and make a big loop back to my car. However, I was quickly cliffed out, and there was no trail. I didn't feel comfortable trying to down climb this section with two dogs, so all I could do was turn around.
Sunset over the great salt lake.
I'm not great a running selfies, but on our way down we jogged. I was worried that sunset already happened, and I hate hiking/running in the dark. I tried to move as fast as I could, but still ended up wearing my headlamp and running with my phone in my hand for an extra flashlight. We also ran out of water by the time we got down.
Next time I would do a few things different for this trail: 1) wear pants 2) start early in the morning, not go after work 3) bring more water (I carried 2 liters, and needed more like 3 liters). However, because I hated the bushwhacking so much I probably won't do this one again!
Noblett's Creek, located in the Southwestern end of the Uinta Mountains, is a good early/pre-season hike when the rest of the high elevation hikes in the Uintas are still covered with snow and mud. Because Noblett's Creek is at an elevation of 7,400 ft it is typically ready to hike by end of May/early June (depending on the snow pack from Winter). This trail is really short at only 2 miles round trip, making it perfect for families and kids. Dogs are also able to hike here off leash. Please be advised that this is a very popular trail, and only well-behaved dogs should hike here (or should be on leash). On a Sunday we passed probably 15 people in one hour! This hike is accessible year round, and you don't need 4x4 drive to get here since it's located right off Highway 35. There is plenty of shade and water, so if it's hot consider wearing water shoes like Chacos or Tevas to stomp around in the water to cool off.
From SLC head East on I-80 through Parley's Canyon. Take exit 146 for HWY 40 south towards Heber, UT. Take exit 4 towards Kamas, UT. At the Kamas light, turn right onto HWY 32. Drive 2 miles, then turn left at the 4-way stop in Francis, UT. Drive about 12 miles on HWY 35 until you see the Nobletts Creek parking lot on the left.
More water stops for the pups. Look how green it is! So pretty.
There's also really interesting rock on the right side of the trail.
Made it to the cascades in only 25 minutes at a casual pace.
Noblett's Creek reminds me a lot of the Cascade Springs in American Fork Canyon.
Top of the falls looking down.
There is a "End of Trail" sign right at the cascades but the trail keeps going so we checked it out. We went up maybe another 100 yards and it kept getting steeper and the trail faded. I would definitely not bring kids past the spring.
Blind Lake is located on Boulder Mountain in Utah - it is the deepest and biggest lake on the mountain at 52 acres and 52 feet deep. Most people come to the lake to fish for trout, but there the trail itself is great for dogs, kids, and families. It's only 1 mile to reach Blind Lake, but you can continue on to Pear & Fish Creek Lake, and the Beaver Dam Reservoir. If you hike to all lakes, the trail will be 6 miles RT. Our pup friend Bear was recovering from hiking the Behunin and Meeks Lake Trail, so I decided to just hang out at Blind Lakes, while my friends continued on. Boulder Mountain has about 60 high-elevation fishable lakes. While may of the lakes are tiny or run as stocked fisheries, trophy-size trout are not uncommon here in Blind Lake.
Drive south of Torrey, UT on HWY 12 for 5 miles. Turn right on N Slope Road, where there is a large brown sign for Blind Lake. Follow the signs for 8 miles until you reach the TH. 4x4 drive is recommended, however a mini SUV or larger should be fine. Small, passenger cars may not be able to make it. It depends on road conditions.
The trail starts in the SW end of the parking area.
The trail is very well shaded from Aspens and Ponderosa trees. Copper checks back on us.
Pass by a mucky meadow on your left.
The trail is very easy to follow, and only gains 466 ft. But because you are hiking at an elevation of 10,000 ft it will feel harder.
After 1 mile you will reach Blind Lake! Now its time to pick your favorite fishing spot. Be prepared for much cooler temperatures and high winds - even in summer you'll want to bring a light puffy coat or long sleeve shirt with you.
Charlie soaks up the sun.
Such a pretty lake! Blind Lake would make a great quick overnight backpack trip as well.
We really enjoyed this lake - next time we will hike further to see the other lakes.