orange and brown threes in front of gray mountain

Top Eight Hikes in Salt Lake City

March 1, 2021

Salt Lake City is home to some of the most beautiful scenery in the nation with a diverse range of activities for hikers, skiers, mountain bikers, and climbers. Mountain ranges surround almost the entire city, elevating Salt Lake’s picturesque skyline and offering access to gorgeous hiking trails within the city limits.

KÜHL Headquarters is located here, so we can vouch for the electrifying landscapes that surround our offices, where our top-quality gear is conceptualized. Whether you were born here or driving through Utah on a road trip, make sure to check out these favorite Salt Lake City hikes.

1. Lake Blanche 

Difficulty: Hard
Length: 6-7 miles 
Elevation gain: 2,700 feet 
Routine Type: There and back
Dog Friendly: No 
Family Friendly: Best suited for healthy adults 
Location: Lake Blanche

green body of water with rock formation and blue sky background
Stunning Lake Blanche in Salt Lake City, Utah. Photo by Pierce Martin.

This scenic mountain-top lake lies in a protected watershed, meaning no swimming or dogs allowed. Regardless, this is one of the most memorable Utah hikes due to its wildlife, views, and climactic peak. It’s quite strenuous, so pack plenty of water and snacks, as well as a headlamp if the hike lasts longer than you intend. The trail can be slippery in the wintertime, so spikes and poles are recommended from November through May. 

2. Cecret Lake 

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Length: Ranges from 1-7 miles
Elevation gain: 459 feet 
Routine Type: There and back
Dog Friendly: No
Family Friendly: Yes
Location: Cecret Lake

Cecret Lake hike has a mountain backdrop perfect for pictures of loved ones. While swimming is not permitted, you can still enjoy a picnic amidst the crisp mountain air.

body of water with rocky formations background
Cecret Lake, Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah. Photo credits: 24 Salt Lake.

Since parking is limited, it’s recommended to park in the Wildcat base area parking lot and hike up to Upper Albion Meadows. This will make the hike longer, but you’ll be able to see beautiful wildflowers during spring and summer and get those extra steps in.

If you’re looking for a more mellow day, you can also take the Alta Ski Area shuttle as long as it’s running. If you go during the winter months, dress in layers.

3. Bells Canyon to Lower Falls

Difficulty: Hard
Length: 4.6 miles 
Elevation gain: 1,453 feet
Route Type: There and back
Dog Friendly: No 
Family Friendly: Not during winter 
Location: Bells Canyon

a trail through low gray bushes with rocky formations in the background
The trail up Bells Canyon to the lower waterfall. Photo by baka_san.

Bells Canyon is perfect for hikers. The trail leads to a lower waterfall, gorgeous to view in both the summer as well as winter. During cold months, the waterfall is often frozen, luring in those who enjoy snowshoeing. If it’s wintertime, make sure to wear spikes and bring poles as many hikers have reported slipping and falling. The end can be steep, so be careful! There are also many other trailheads in Bells Canyon that are worth checking out if you have time.

4. Lake Mary, Martha, and Catherine 

Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 4.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 1200 feet
Route Type: There and back 
Dog Friendly: No
Family Friendly: Yes
Location: Lake Mary Trail

blue body of water with rock formations in the background
Lake Mary Hike in Big Cottonwood Canyon. Photo by Ken Lund.

The moderate incline on the way up makes for a breezy stroll on the way down. There are three lakes along this trail, making this a great hike for those who need intermittent breaks. The views are gorgeous, especially considering the relatively easy terrain.

Winter and spring can be snowy or muddy, so be careful! However, the trail is well maintained and can get relatively busy on the weekends. Make sure to bring water, as well as a fully-charged phone for pictures.

5. Neffs Canyon 

Difficulty: Difficult
Length: 7 miles 
Elevation Gain: 3,559 feet 
Route Type: There and back 
Dog Friendly: Yes, but must be kept on a leash
Family Friendly: No
Location: Neffs Canyon

The start of this hike can be busy, but you’ll be able to get some space as you get further along. You’ll be surrounded by trees and nearby mountains on this hike, which can get icy during the wintertime. Wear appropriate snowshoes when necessary.

green grass, trees and gray mountain in sunlight
Mount Olympus – Neffs Canyon. Photo by Argyleist.

Wildlife is about and you’re likely to see animal tracks of wildlife, as well as lots of wildflowers in the summer. Some areas can be overgrown so make sure to stay on the trail as there is poor cell reception in this area. This hike is a perfect excuse to unplug and embrace a meditative reset inspired by nature. 

6. Donut Falls 

Difficulty: Easy to Difficult
Length: 3.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 518 feet
Route Type: There and back 
Dog Friendly: No
Family Friendly: Depends
Address: Donut Falls 

This hike can be made easy or difficult depending on how far you want to go.

The trail that leads to the falls is flat, however, you must scramble up some boulders to actually see the falls, which descend through a cave. Climbing up these boulders may be difficult for some children and the elderly. Climbing up the boulders to see the gorgeous falls is highly recommended.

water falling from rocks into body of water
Donut Falls. Photo by Brian Lauer.

During the winter months, you may not be able to see the “donut” part of the cave due to snow cover, but the hike is beautiful regardless. Bring snowshoes or spikes when necessary. Families will often sled on the hills near the trail head if it’s recently snowed. During spring and summer, the falls should be flowing freely. 

7. Silver Lake 

Difficulty: Easy
Length: 1 mile 
Elevation gain: 55 feet
Route type: Loop
Dog Friendly: No
Family Friendly: Yes
Location: Silver Lake 

snow on body of water with snowy rock formations in the background
Silver Lake in winter. Photo by Cassi Gurell.

This is a very easy trail, suitable for every skill level. This loop trail circles Silver Lake, which is surrounded by trees and mountains. The trail is not technically open to foot traffic during winter, only those with snowshoes or cross-country skis. You will have to purchase a pass at the Solitude Nordic Center. Otherwise, the trail is free to enjoy spring through fall for those looking to take a relaxing stroll through nature without breaking much of a sweat.

8. Mt. Olympus 

Difficulty: Hard
Length: 8 miles
Elevation Gain: 4,192 feet 
Dog Friendly: Yes
Family Friendly: No
Location: Mt. Olympus

Mt. Olympus looking lovely with a coating of snow. Photo by Rudi Riet.

This steep hike offers stunning views of Wasatch Valley and Salt Lake City. You won’t have to drive far into the canyon as the hike starts at the base of the mountain near a Cottonwood Heights neighborhood.

Know that the ascent is steep, and can even be a good intro hike for aspiring mountaineers. Be careful while following the trail as some hikers have reported accidentally straying off it if not paying close attention. Enjoy amazing views of the city.

Featured image – Mount Olympus Way, Salt Lake City, US. Photo by Erin.


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