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Destinatons: Top 10 hikes in and around Utah County

Published: Thursday, June 8 2006 12:00 a.m. MDT

Wildflowers are abundant and the vibrant colors change frequently along the trail in Albion Basin.

Brian Brinkerhoff

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Summer hiking is calling once again, offering adventure, spectacular vistas and Utah's magnificent wildlife. Provided are a few personal favorites:

Mt. Timpanogos Summit — One of the area's most popular hikes is to the summit of Mt. Timpanogos. Views are spectacular and wildlife is abundant. This 10.5 mile hike goes through the Mt. Timpanogos Wilderness Area. Mountain bikes and campfires are not allowed. Group sizes should be limited to 15 with a recommended limit of 8. This hike usually opens up in late June and can best be accessed from the Timpanookee Trailhead, eight miles from American Fork Canyon's fee station along the Alpine Loop. Although this route is longer than from the Aspen Grove Trailhead, it is also less steep. Popular stops include Emerald Lake, Scout Falls and the snowfield below the summit.

Timpanogos Cave — This is a very popular goal for tourists and locals alike. The destination is a beautiful cave at the top of a 1.5 mile hike. A paved trail makes access easier, but it is a steep route. Strollers, horses and motorized vehicles are not allowed, and it is highly recommended that you make reservations early to guarantee your spot on these often sold-out cave tours. Special cave tours are worth asking for when you make your reservations. Call 756-5238.

Provo River Parkway — This is a very popular route that takes travelers through Provo Canyon to Utah Lake State Park. Stops along the way include an abundance of parks, Bridal Veil Falls and fishing holes. This paved path begins at Vivian Park, where the Heber Valley Railroad ends, although starting points await at almost every park along the way. This one is great for young bikers. It is relatively level and safe. A small spur near the state park leads visitors along the shoreline of Utah Lake.

Cascade Springs — This pleasant retreat is a joy for families seeking a leisurely stroll around dancing waters. Just over a half mile in length, fish dart from pool to pool, and signs teach visitors about the hydrology. Much of the trail is wheelchair accessible and great for anyone who wants a break from the summer heat. To reach Cascade Springs, follow the Alpine Loop about 10.9 miles from the fee station up the South Fork of American Fork Canyon. Look for signs near the top for the turnoff.

Silver Lake — No list would be complete without the improved Silver Lake Trail just above Silver Lake Flat. This trail takes visitors on a gentle ascent to a shimmering Silver Lake, where hungry trout snatch flies and mosquitoes off the water's surface. It is a great hike through Lone Peak Wilderness and displays a wealth of mining history. I have many fond memories of the fragrances blowing off the hillsides during my midsummer evening hikes. Take the North Fork of American Fork Canyon past Tibble Fork Reservoir toward Granite Flat Campground. Just before the campground a dirt road heads north 3.8 miles to the north side of the reservoir for the trailhead parking.

Jordan River Parkway —This is a great destination with almost year-round access. Sections of this trail feature an abundance of wildlife viewing, quiet reflection and stunning views. Shared with mountain bikes, skaters and horseback riders this 6.4-mile paved trail is level, great for strollers and walking with little ones. Fishing along the way is warming up with increasing temperatures, and access points exist near the inlet at Utah Lake, near Willow Park, off Highway 73 and the historic bridge at 9600 North.

Hobble Creek Parkway — Showcasing wildlife and wildflowers, family hikers and bikers now have a fairly new parkway destination near Springville with magnificent views of deer, elk, quail, lizards, squirrels, pheasants, turkeys, hawks and a variety of songbirds. Arrive early in the morning or evening to see wildlife. The trail begins north of the small reservoir at the mouth of the canyon.

Albion Basin — This is a hike where the trail is the destination. Numerous paths take visitors through spectacular wildflower meadows full of brilliant colors and fragrances. Bring a camera. Hummingbirds and deer frequent this area. Hikers may view remnants of local mining history. Some trails lead to Secret Lake, Lake Catherine and other nearby destinations, offering an extended journey. Trails run through the ski area, and others cross the road to the south-facing slopes. To reach the trailhead, drive 8.3 miles up Little Cottonwood Canyon to the upper parking lots of the Alta Ski area. A dirt road opens with campgrounds above, offering another trailhead stop higher up.

Forest Lake — Forest Lake is a great trail for hikers, mountain bikers, horses and ATV trail riders. This 1.9-mile route heads east from the trailhead, just before reaching Mineral Basin. It passes hillsides full of bluebells in June as it climbs to tranquil Forest Lake. No fish await visitors in this lake, so leave your fishing rod at home, unless you plan on fishing American Fork Creek or Tibble Fork Reservoir. To reach the trailhead, follow the dirt road 4.2 miles east from Tibble Fork Reservoir.

Battle Creek Falls — This is a great lower elevation hike that takes children on a rugged trail. The destination overlooks magnificent waterfalls, just 0.9 miles from the trailhead. It can be warm, so hike in the morning or early evening. Breather pipes splash bursts of water on little hands, and a small cave provides a great distraction while parents catch their breath. Trail access begins at Kiwanis Park, located at the east end of Battle Creek Road in Pleasant Grove. Follow the trail east into the narrow canyon.


Brian Brinkerhoff hosts "Backcountry Utah: Utah's Outdoor Radio Magazine," which airs 9-11 a.m. Saturday on AM 630 KTKK, 5-6 p.m. Tuesday afternoons on AM 1340 KTMP and 10:30-11:30 a.m. Saturday on 1340 KTMP. He is author of "Best Easy Day Hikes: Salt Lake City," published by Falcon Press. For more information, visit his Web site at www.backcountry-magazine.com.