Jun 2, 2024 - Things to Do

Your guide to the best Salt Lake hikes for visitors

Golden fall aspens fill a basin near mountains.

On the trail to Mount Raymond. Photo: Erin Alberty/Axios

If you have guests from sea level who want to "climb the mountains," or you're flying into Salt Lake for a short trip and want to explore the Wasatch, here are some of the best hikes, whether you have an hour or all day.

1 hour: Ensign Peak

A group of men sing along with a guitar on a mountain overlook
A singalong on Ensign Peak. Photo: Erin Alberty/Axios

Take in the sweeping vistas at the peak from which Brigham Young and company designed Salt Lake City.

  • The trail is about a mile round-trip, and it's the quickest way to touch the mountains and see the Salt Lake Valley if you're in the city proper. Also a fantastic vantage point for sunsets.

1.5–2 hours: Silver Lake, Solitude

A lake with cliffs and gold autumn leaves.
Silver Lake at Solitude. Photo: Erin Alberty/Axios

The 1-mile boardwalk is wheelchair accessible, and it's the least strenuous way to get up close to the cliffy scenery that people imagine when they hear the word "mountain." Build in time to play on the boulders and shoot your Christmas card photo.

  • The whole Brighton parking lot sometimes fills up, but your chances for a spot are better than at, say, Donut Falls.

2–3 hours: Mormon Flat

A big black dog walks through a snowy road in the mountains.
A pup finds a path through the snow near Mormon Flat. Photo: Erin Alberty/Axios

The history is the big attraction. In 1846, the Donner Party lost weeks here to clear the trail for their wagons. Historians consider it one of the biggest factors in their late arrival to the Sierra Nevada, where they met tragedy.

  • This East Canyon trail is a great four-season hike. I've seen moose and other interesting wildlife there. Enjoy a picnic near the stream. Or explore the defensive walls built by early Mormons in anticipation of war with the U.S. government.
  • It's a modest climb up and back, with no particular destination except Big Mountain 4.5 miles away, so distance is up to you.

2–4 hours: Cecret Lake or Catherine's Pass

A mountain towering over a green valley.
The hike to Cecret Lake. Photo: Erin Alberty

Albion Basin, Alta's crown jewel, has dramatic Alpine landscapes, frequent moose sightings and the finest wildflower display in the county.

  • The hike to Cecret Lake is 2 miles with a modest incline. Nearby Catherine's Pass is a bit steeper and longer, and you end up at an overlook between Big and Little Cottonwood canyons.
  • Yes, but: Parking and traffic can be rough — hence the longer time estimate. There also are hiking routes to Albion Basin from Alta's base.

3–5 hours: Brighton-Solitude lakes

A moose approaches a pond.
A moose at Lake Solitude. Photo: Erin Alberty/Axios

With six lakes dotting the slopes, you can customize your route to your guests' stamina and provide lots of destinations for them to look forward to.

  • Moose are often here, and the wildflowers are fantastic by late July.
  • There are lots of maps with various lake-to-lake permutations, but the Hiking Project's is the most comprehensive.

5–7 hours: Dog Lake and Reynolds Peak via Mill D

Red Indian Paintbrush on a cliff with peaks in the background.
Indian Paintbrush on Reynolds Peak. Photo: Erin Alberty/Axios

Another Wasatch classic with gorgeous views and a fun destination.

  • You can approach from Millcreek Canyon or Mill D in Big Cottonwood, but I prefer Big Cottonwood for parking and traffic.
  • Reynolds Peak is a steep but worthwhile add-on for more athletic guests.

All day: Mount Raymond

A mountain ridge with trees covering the sky.
The scramble up Mount Raymond. Photo: Erin Alberty/Axios

I will die on this hill: Mount Raymond is, step for step, the best day hike in the Wasatch. It feels like an epic journey, with fun rock-scrambling at the end.

  • It's about 3.75 miles one-way and 3,000+ feet of elevation gain to reach the colossal peak. Don't force your guests to overdo it.
  • Feeling ambitious? You can follow the trail signs to visit Dog Lake in an extended loop if your legs have a few extra miles to spare.
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