Fall in Love with Utah: Canyon Hikes to Watch the Leaves Change
Utah is a beautiful state that experiences all 4 seasons: spring, summer, fall, and winter. A must-see during the fall season is the colorful and vibrant views that canyon hikes have to offer. Whether an avid hiker or looking for a casual Sunday stroll, these canyon hikes will make you fall in love with fall in Utah!
The peak of the fall season in Utah is from late September through October. The best way to enjoy the changing leaves is by going on a fall hike in Utah’s beautiful canyons. Lamb’s Canyon is a smaller canyon right off of I-80 on the way from Salt Lake City to Park City. It takes about 15 minutes to drive up the short canyon, and 15 minutes to drive back down.
From the start of the drive, the classic red, yellow, and orange fall colors can be seen everywhere. Throughout the canyon drive, there are many spots to pull off and hike around. The main trail up Lamb’s Canyon is called Lamb’s Canyon Trail. The hike is about 6.5 miles long and is rated as a moderate hike. While this hike isn’t too long, it doesn’t take much hiking to experience the beauty of the fall colors. Even a drive or a short walk will allow you to experience the breathtaking colors of Utah during the fall season!
Big Cottonwood Canyon
As you drive up from Big Cottonwood Canyon to Brighton Ski Resort, you will see some of Utah’s best fall colors and hikes. There are many spots where you can pull off to take some photos or simply enjoy the view! Lake Mary, Donut Falls, or Silver Lake are the best hiking trails in this canyon.
A great family-friendly option is the Willow Lake Trail. Located 11 miles from the mouth of the canyon, Willow Lake is a 2.5-mile roundtrip hike. The lake is known for an abundance of wildlife such as moose, lynx, porcupine, and deer. Since it weaves through a dense patch of willow trees, this hike is best during the fall months when Utah’s colors are most vibrant. Although it’s a short hike, it has steep areas so don’t forget comfortable shoes and plenty of water. Please note that Big Cottonwood Canyon is a protected watershed area, so dogs are not allowed anywhere in the canyon. Check out these dog-friendly trails for your furry friend.
East Canyon is the perfect fall hiking destination in Utah for families. The canyon sits in the mountains northeast of Salt Lake City. For colorful views and a place to start, visit East Canyon State Park. Enjoy the cooler weather and changing leaves while exploring the natural beauty of Utah. If you’re looking for an easy trail, a popular hike is the Mormon Pioneer Trail. Follow along in the pioneer footsteps and get a taste of the golden season.
About 15 minutes from downtown Salt Lake City, Millcreek Canyon is a serene location to take in the beauty of nature while also offering a variety of hiking options. Millcreek Canyon is easy and convenient to get to while still outside of Salt Lake City. You feel teleported to a different time and place, a simpler time. A number of historic cabins can be found along the road on the way to the top of the canyon, giving the drive a rural and solitary feel. During the fall season in Utah, Millcreek Canyon is a beautiful and peaceful area to hike or go on walks. The vibrant fall colors also make for a stunning backdrop for family or couple photos. Millcreek Canyon offers autumn hikes for all ages and difficulty levels.
Some additional aspects to consider are that Millcreek is a unique canyon that requires a small access fee per vehicle. While this might seem like a downside, some might view it as an advantage because it deters the big crowds who instead flock to Big Cottonwood Canyon and Little Cottonwood Canyon. Note that mountain bikes are allowed only on even-numbered days. Also, dogs may be off-leash on odd-numbered days, but on even-numbered days they must be on a leash. All of these elements make for a truly one-of-a-kind autumn experience!
Fall is the best season in Utah to enjoy canyon hikes, cooler weather, and changing leaves. Before you explore the outdoors, make sure you are prepared with these hiking essentials and bring your camera! If you’re looking for even more fall fun off the trail, check out these 7 fall activities for families.