My absolute favorite time of the year to hike is during the Fall. We love seeing the beautiful colors! However, here in Utah, there is usually a short window of about 2-3 weeks to take in all those changing leaves. Peak dates in Big & Little Cottonwood typically runs September 24-October 10. Peak dates for American Fork & Logan typically runs October 3-17. These dates can vary slightly from year to year depending upon the temperatures.
Here are 14 of our favorite hikes during the Fall:
- Willow Lake, Big Cottonwood Canyon: This hike pops with golden colors as you walk through an aspen forest to a small lake. Just 1.5 miles round trip to the lake and an extra 0.65 miles to go around the lake.
2. Bell Canyon Reservoir, Little Cottonwood Canyon: Located right at the base of Little Cottonwood Canyon right off Wasatch Blvd. This Hike has beautiful fall colors and amazing valley views. Just 1.5 miles to the reservoir and back.
3. Stairs Gulch, Big Cottonwood Canyon: Located directly across the street from the entry to Storm Mountain. Hike through dense colorful scrub oak to cascading waterfalls. About 1.5 miles roundtrip.
4. Battle Creek Falls, Pleasant Grove: Access to Battle Creek Falls is from the Battle Creek Trailhead off the Kiwanis Park picnic area. This is a fairly easy hike at just 1.4 miles roundtrip to the waterfall.
5. Silver Lake, Big Cottonwood Canyon: Located near Brighton Ski Resort, this is a flat, easy hike around the lake. Moose can often times be spotted at this lake. The colors are beautiful during the fall. Just 1 mile around the lake.
6. Temple Quarry, Little Cottonwood Canyon: This paved trail is near the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon. There are interpretive signs along the way that offer historical info. Just 1/4 of a mile.
7. Cascade Springs, Provo: This trail is along the Alpine Loop and can also be accessed from Heber through Wasatch State Park. This is an easy hike along boardwalks and bridges. The loop is about a mile long.
8. Grotto Falls, Payson Canyon: Located along the Nebo Loop Scenic Drive. This hike leads to a beautiful waterfall and is known for it's amazing fall colors. Just 0.6 miles out and back.
9. Bear Canyon Suspension Bridge, in Draper: Located just off Highland Drive, trailhead starts at the Orson Smith Park. You will also find amazing valley views. This is an easy hike at just a 2.3 mile loop to the suspension bridge.
10. Stewart Falls, Provo: Located at Sundance Mountain resort, this hike to a waterfall has stunning views as you walk through forests of Aspen trees. The main trail starts at Aspen Grove, and it's 4 miles roundtrip to the falls. Nothing too difficult on this hike, but it is longer than any other hike on our list, making it a moderate hike.
11. Donut Falls, Big Cottonwood Canyon: This is a popular hike and is beautiful during the fall. You do need to climb down a large rock to get to the falls, They have added a rope to help you down. If you start from the trailhead parking this hike is just 1.5 miles roundtrip. However, if you start from the large parking lot off the main road, your hike is 3.5 miles roundtrip.
12. Wind Caves, Logan: Located 5 miles up Logan Canyon. We had to add this hike to our list because it is so popular for fall hiking. This hike has incredible views and fall foliage. This is a moderate hike with some switchbacks and the terrain gets steeper as you get to the caves. This is one of the more difficult hikes on our list. I would not recommend this for young kids and you will need to take it slow with older kids. This hike is 3.5 mile roundtrip. Tony Grove Lake would be another option up Logan Canyon that is perfect for any age and about 1 mile hike around the lake.
13. Gloria Falls, Little Cottonwood Canyon: This hike is 2.3 miles roundtrip. The difficult part is that there is no signage for Gloria Falls and you will mainly follow the trail signs for Red Pine Lake. The trail forks at the sign for White Pine and Red Pine Lake, stay on the trail for Red Pine Lake (the trail continues behind a large wooden sign). You will then cross one bridge over the stream, this is where you will veer off the Red Pine Lake Trail and take an immediate left onto a muddy, smaller, and less obvious trail. This trail will follow along the stream. You will follow this path through bushes and trees for about 100 yards until the falls. It does get steep in one section at this point. It's not an obvious path, but you will see a trail. In fact, there are a few small trails you may follow that will lead to the falls.
14. Bloods Lake, Guardsman Pass: 2.8 miles round trip to the lake. It's mostly flat until some switchbacks near the end. You'll find stunning yellow colors during the fall.
Where are your favorite hikes to see Utah's fall leaves?
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Updated from it's original posting on September 2022