The iconic Stewart Falls hike in the city of Sundance is especially stunning when blanketed in snow, but getting there safely takes a little more planning. The trail can be somewhat dangerous in the winter, so choosing the right day is paramount. A route variation near the end allows you to stay away from the most dangerous sections and get a much better view of the falls than the summer hike. Honeymoon Meadow is a flat and wide open area that gives you a direct line of sight up the beautiful bell-shaped canyon where the Mount Timpanogos cirque sits overhead. The view from the normal trail gives you a much tighter angle of the falls and takes you directly through slide zones. While there is a risk, some preparation and an idea of where to go will make this an unforgettable day. Morning is the best time to hike here as the sun works its way behind the mountain in the afternoon and the steep sided trail can get icy.
The first two-thirds of the hike is the same as in the summertime. The variation here cuts southeast (slight left) after the large open meadow to avoid the steepest sections and to get better views of the cirque. This occurs about 1.4 miles in, and there is a groomed cross-country track to notify you of the fork. Note that you should not walk on the tracks: You need a pass to access the track, and skiers don't appreciate snowshoers ruining their tracks. You can use them as a guide, however, and follow the track down toward Honeymoon Meadow. If you look up to your right you will see how steep the summertime trail becomes when covered with snow. Multiple slide zones flank the normal route, so it is highly recommend that you skipping it altogether and going by way of the lower elevated eastern slopes that are much less steep. You get fantastic views, and you end up in front of the falls rather than alongside them. Honeymoon Meadow is marked with signs, so you will know you have arrived. The meadow makes for a great spot to stop for lunch and enjoy the scenery, and you may even get to observe a slide or two on the nearby slopes.
Always check the conditions at Utah Avalanche Center before you go, and stick to days with low avalanche danger.
Winter backcountry adventures can be dangerous outdoor activities that pose significant risks as conditions affecting safety (i.e. weather, snowpack stability, avalanche hazard) are constantly changing. Prior to engaging in these activities each individual should get the proper training to make safe decisions and be equipped to use avalanche safety resources and tools. Please visit our Backcountry Skiing and Avalanche Safety post to learn more.