County recreation: Wasatch County Utah 'Swiss' country a leisure-time haven

Published: Thursday, Sept. 1 2005 12:00 a.m. MDT

Boaters beat the heat in the waters of Jordanelle Reservoir, where water levels are higher this year as a result of the wet spring.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret Morning News

HEBER — At the very heart of Wasatch County there is a town. As towns go, this one is still a little on the sleepy side — quiet, down-home and, as yet, spared the frustrations of rush-hour traffic.

All of which goes with the laid-back, do-things-at-your-leisure atmosphere, which has made Heber the hub for visitors looking for things to do.

What you know:

Heber, with the smaller communities of Charleston and Midway attached, is the starting point for most of the activities that originate in Wasatch County.

Over the years, 58 to be exact, the county has been tied into its Swiss heritage. Visitors see it in the design of some of the homes. Local residents also hold the annual "Swiss Days" celebration in Midway. This is the state's biggest community festival and will be held Friday and Saturday, said County Councilman Mike Kohlern.

The event features some of the Swiss traditions people have come to enjoy, such as dancing, yodeling, bell-ringing, nonstop entertainment, parades and rows of booths featuring everything from arts and crafts to some truly delicious Swiss foods, ranging from scones to sauerkraut.

A little north of town is Jordanelle Reservoir and State Park, one of the newest under state care, and a few miles south is Deer Creek Reservoir and State Park, one of the older sites under state care.

Both offer all the summer fun of a water-based state park, including camping, water skiing, swimming, picnicking and, of course, fishing.

The connecting link between the two is the middle section of the Provo River, which is one of the state's premier fishing streams.

Heading southeast, over the Summit and down into Strawberry Valley is Strawberry Reservoir, which is Utah's No. 1 fishing hole and for good reason. Fishing, especially in the spring and fall, is excellent. It's not uncommon for a good fisherman to leave the lake after having caught and released 20 or 30 fish in an afternoon.

Within the town of Midway is one of the state's Olympic venues — Soldier Hollow. A lot has changed since those snowy days in February of 2002.

The trail system has been expanded, for example, which means more opportunities for both winter and summer users. Now there is a total of 16 miles of trails for hiking, biking and cross-country use.

Connected to the Nordic center is the Soldier Hollow Golf Course, which is a cousin to the Wasatch Mountain Golf Course to the north. Both fall under the control of the Utah Division of Parks and Recreation, as does the Soldier Hollow complex. The Wasatch course remains one of the most popular in the state, and the two 18-hole courses at Soldier Hollow are rapidly gaining the respect of golfers.

There are few opportunities in this day and age to hop a train. One of the few remaining places is the Heber Valley Railroad, which departs from town and heads along the western shore of Deer Creek. The menu of activities ranges from sunset barbecues to fiddlers entertaining passengers to a ride through a haunted canyon in October.

What you don't know:

Even though people are well aware of Soldier Hollow, they may not be as familiar with the number of summer and fall activities available.

One of the newest events on the county docket is the annual Soldier Hollow Classic International Sheepdog Championships, which start Friday and run through Monday. This will be the third year for this event, which brings in dogs and trainers from around the world.

The Fiber & Cultural Celebration will be held in conjunction with the trials.

Border collies, considered the most intelligent of all dogs, utilize their skills to herd sheep in an entertaining and competitive event. Each day the nature of that competition changes as the event progresses.