The Provo River Parkway is a good example of urban trail systems that have been developed throughout the state of Utah. The entire paved trail is about 15 miles long, from Utah Lake to Vivian Park in Provo Canyon, but there are many entry points. Cyclists, runners and equestrians also use this trail — so be alert and considerate. Charlene Christensen, Director of Services at the Utah County Convention and Visitors Bureau, recommends the section near Bridal Veil Falls in Provo Canyon. There is another short trail in that area that allows hikers to get a closer look at the falls.
Length: Any. Hikers can see as much or as little of the trail as they would like.
How to find it: There are many entry points to this trail. To reach the Bridal Veil Falls section, take University Avenue into Provo Canyon. Bridal Veil falls is located about two miles into the canyon.
6. The Grotto, Payson Canyon
The payoff for this trail is a small waterfall flowing into a pool at the end. The refreshing water at the end of this trail makes it a great one for summer, but it is also an excellent fall trail because of the colorful autumn foliage that can be found throughout the canyon. This trail is wide and well maintained, and the elevation gain is small.
Length: 0.6 miles
How to find it: About seven miles up Payson Canyon on the Mount Nebo Scenic Loop road. Look for signs and a small parking area across from the trailhead.
7. Sand Arch, Arches National Park
Arches National Park enjoys abundant sunshine year round and temperatures may remain warm well into the fall. Sand Arch is one of the best family hikes in the park because it’s short, flat and shady. If you're visiting with children, bring a picnic, camp chairs and sand toys and schedule extra playtime on this fun trail.
Length: 0.5 miles
How to find it: Look for signs along the main road of Arches National Park, about 16 miles from the park entrance. Arches has a $10-per-car fee, which is good for seven days.
8. Mesa Arch, Canyonlands National Park
This hilly, loop hike leads to a wide arch that frames endless canyons behind it. There are unfenced cliffs near the arch, but there is also plenty of space to enjoy the view without going near the drop-off. This is perhaps the best hike for young families in Canyonlands National Park.
Length: 0.5 miles
How to find it: Along the main road of the Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands National Park. Look for signs about six miles past the visitors center. Canyonlands has a $10-per-car fee, which is good for seven days.
9. Rim Trail, Bryce Canyon National Park
The half-mile between Sunrise and Sunset Points is flat and paved and offers some of the best scenery and photo ops in Bryce Canyon National Park. The entire Rim Trail is about 5.5 miles one-way, but it has several entry and exit points, so it's easy for families to customize their experience.
Length: 1 mile
How to find it: Along the main road in Bryce Canyon National Park, use the parking areas for either Sunrise or Sunset Point. Bryce Canyon has a $25-per-car fee, which is good for seven days.
10. Weeping Rock, Zion National Park
This short, paved trail leads visitors to an alcove in the canyon wall where water drips continuously through the sandstone in front, creating a hanging garden in the desert. The alcove provides a spectacular view of Zion Canyon. Weeping Rock is one of the most popular trails in the park.
Length: 0.5 miles
How to find it: Along the main road in the popular Zion Canyon section of Zion National Park. A mandatory shuttle services this section of the park from April through October each year. Zion National Park has a $25-per-car fee, which is good for seven days.
It's always a good idea to carry drinking water, wear sunscreen and shoes with good support and traction, regardless of how short the trail. Utah's fall foliage is especially beautiful this year, but it won't last long. Get out and enjoy it on one of Utah's many great hiking trails.
Allison Laypath is an expert on family travel and author of the family travel blog tipsforfamilytrips.com. With her family, Allison especially enjoys road trips, national parks and local field trips. Email Allison at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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