This trail is in south-central Utah and carries a full four-star rating from the Mangum kids. The trailhead is in the Calf Creek campground off U-12, between Escalante and Boulder.
It's a dusty, sandy, 21/4-mile trail in the bottom of a small canyon that offers little shade. But at the end, Calf Creek cascades over a huge rock wall to a delightful pool surrounded by sandy beach. It's the swimming hole you always dreamed of discovering. Many hikers take swim suits and towels and frolic in the pool. Kids all play in the wet sand. Because of the angle of the canyon, the falls and pool are in the shade by early to mid-afternoon, and you may want to plan accordingly for pictures and swimming. Cameras are a must on this one. The scene is spectacular.If you are coming from the north, try the newly paved road over Boulder Mountain that goes south from Torrey. It offers spectacular views of the Capitol Reef area, especially the final stretch that snakes along a spiny ridge of a mountain.
Delicate Arch - A Utah classic. Everyone should see this famous arch, but there is pretty scenery all along the way even without the impressive view at the end. The hike is about 11/2 miles each way over mostly smooth rock terrain. The trail begins at the historic Wolfe Creek ranch site in Arches National Park near Moab. A pit toilet but no water is available at the trailhead. Fill up water bottles at the visitor center at the park's entrance.
Timpanogos Cave - This has been a favorite family hike for several generations of Utahns. The trail and cave are maintained by the U.S. Forest Service and there is a charge of $3 for adults, $2 for children 6 to 16 and $1.50 for seniors with a Golden Age pass. The 11/4-mile trail is entirely paved and at the top there is a 45-minute guided tour through the cave and its wonderland of colorful stalagmites and stalagtite formations.
The Timp trail is only open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and sometimes there is a wait in a cool, shaded area at the top to get on a tour. No pets are allowed in the cave. It is located in American Fork Canyon, and there is a small visitor center area at the trailhead with modern rest rooms. A pleasant canyon picnic area is across the road.
Lake Mary - This is as nice as hiking gets in the Wasatch Mountains. Just above Brighton in Big Cottonwood Canyon is the beautiful Lake Mary. The trail begins in the southeast corner of the Brighton Loop Road, on the ski lift access road. In the 11/2 miles to the lake you hike through meadows of abundant wildflowers, aspens and pines in late July.
The trail has a steep spot or two, but overall is very manageable even for small children. Just a half mile up the trail from Lake Mary is Lake Martha and continue on another mile to reach Lake Catherine, two glacier-carved lakes.
Grandeur Peak - A good first mountain to conquer. This peak offers a full view of the Salt Lake Valley. It's a 2-mile hike that begins at the top of the Church Fork picnic area in Millcreek Canyon. The climb at first follows a small stream and then switchbacks through scrub oak country. At the summit you reach an elevation of 8,249 feet.
Salt Lake Overlook Trail - Also a view of Salt Lake City at the end of this hike, though not quite as spectacular. However, this 2-mile trail offers a more gradual climb through many shady and wooded forest areas. This is also one hike you can bring the family dog on. The trail begins on the south side of Millcreek Canyon at the lower end of the Box Elder picnic area. Water and primitive rest rooms available at the picnic area.
Cecret Lake - The spelling of old Alta miners wasn't great, but the little lake they found is. Tucked into a little basin on the side of Sugarloaf Mountain, Cecret Lake is a pretty and fun spot for kids to play. The trail begins in the campground in Albion basin just above Alta. Park in the area at the entrance to the campground and up the road a bit is a marked trail that heads west from the campground. It's only 1 mile up to the lake and there are lots of wildflowers.
- Diane L. Mangum