Only 50 miles due west of Salt Lake City is the Deseret Peak Wilderness, which lies hidden in plain sight among the early expanses of the vast west desert. South Willow Canyon is just southwest of the small town of Grantsville and rarely gets visitors from the big city. With surprisingly pretty mountains and a great array of flowers and wildlife, this is a hidden gem of the area. This trail is reminiscent of a hike in the Wasatch Mountains, but with far less fellow hikers. The large and healthy aspen groves are dotted with big pine trees, and the jagged tooth peaks of Deseret Peak sit overhead.
The first stretch is lined with a heavy forest, and then you'll reach the open meadows and work your way north along the face of the mountain. You have two major lookout points along the way that give you great views down toward the Great Salt Lake as well as up canyon to the beautifully layered sediment of the peaks. In the early summer the snow-capped peaks feed dozens of small waterfalls and the wildflowers that cover the hillside. South Willow Lake is a medium sized body of water in a picturesque caldera with high cliffs above and backcountry campsites on the north shore.
The trail is perfect for a day hike, but much of it is exposed, so bring a hat and sunscreen in the summer.