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Kyle Jenkins | 08.02.2019

Over the last few decades, word has gotten out about the southern Wasatch Mountains and all they have to offer for anyone looking for outdoor adventure. Utah Valley and its distinctive mountains are home to many of the biggest waterfalls in the state, two designated wilderness areas, a world-class cave system, and a ton of trails for all skill levels just minutes from major cities. Here are some of the places you definitely won't want to miss when exploring this diverse outdoor destination.

 


Rock layers on top of rock layers on the trail to Lost Creek Falls. Kyle Jenkins.

Lost Creek Falls

Starting off from Nunn's Park across from Bridal Veil Falls, this lesser known trail to Lost Creek Falls leads to a small and beautiful canyon with a multi-tiered cascade near the top. It has great views across the canyon, and while it's really steep, it's also short, so it won't take you all day. One thing that makes this hike unique is the water flowing off the rocky canyon walls that feed into the creek before you reach the actual waterfall.

Bridal Veil + Upper Falls

Located just along the road in Provo Canyon, Bridal Veil Falls gets a ton of visitors thanks to the easy access and its high prominence. Not many people realize that just to the east is the almost entirely unknown and rarely visited Upper Falls. Most people just check out Bridal Veil, but if you want to get away from the constant crowds make sure to head up the river on the paved pathway to find some solitude.

Mount Timpanogos

Acting as the eastern backdrop of Utah County, Mount Timpanogos ("Timp" if you're a local) is a long stretch of mountain spine that shoots 5,200 feet out of the valley floor and looms over the majority of residents in the county. The limestone and dolomite cliffs hold some of the best waterfalls in the state during the summer and beckon residents from far and wide to test their mettle on the challenging ascent to its peak. There are two trailheads to attempt this beast; both require about 15 miles roundtrip with strenuous gains thru the wild Mount Timpanogos Wilderness. It's not all about the hard work, however. Fortunately the hike up Mount Timpanogos has some incredible scenery and wildlife to experience and take in along the trail. A cornucopia of  summer wildflowers, multiple cascading waterfalls and a curious herd of mountain goats make up a few of the highlights from a day spent ascending Mount Timpanogos.

 


The trail to Scout Falls from Timpanooke Trailhead. Kyle Jenkins.

Scout Falls

Timpanooke Trailhead is one of the two possible routes to attempt Mount Timpanogos, but it also offers visitors a large campground and the shorter trail option to Scout Falls, a large waterfall just 2 miles up the canyon.

Stewart Falls

Located just above the small picturesque town of Sundance, the trail to Stewart Falls starts out from the Mount Timpanogos Trailhead just near Aspen Grove. The tall and gorgeous cascade is formed from the melting snow within the dynamic Sundance cirque and maintains its flow well into the fall. The hike is just a few miles each way, making it a favorite for local families and visiting tourists.

Dry Canyon Trail

Dry Canyon Trail takes hikers through a diversity of ecosystems as the trail makes its way up 3,000 feet to a saddle on the southwestern slopes of Mount Timpanogos. The variation in scenery along this trail is incredible, from the sheer cliffs of the lower canyon to the lush and open mountain meadows to the views looking out over Utah Valley and up towards the rugged ridgeline of Mount Timpanogos. Note that later sections of the trail are steep; having hiking poles here is recommended.

Timpanogos Cave National Monument

One of the great cave systems of the Mountain West is dug into the limestone on the northern end of Mount Timpanogos just past the mouth of American Fork Canyon. The paved pathway leading up to the caves is notoriously steep but brings you to an otherworldly place in a state not normally known for caves.

 


Overlooking the red rock at Devil's Kitchen. Kyle Jenkins.

Devil's Kitchen

An unusual geological formation sits along the southern end of the Mount Nebo Loop Road that seems like it should be found much farther south toward red rock country. Devil's Kitchen is a small set of hoodoos known as the "mini Bryce Canyon." The short paved path allows just about everyone to enjoy the scenery, which also includes incredible views of Mount Nebo (tallest mountain in the Wasatch at 11,929 ft) and several other patches of red rock to the west.

Silver Lake

There are a handful of "Silver Lakes" in the Wasatch Mountains, but few are as pretty as this one. Nestled in a rugged slice of American Fork Canyon, the 4-mile roundtrip has a reservoir at the trailhead and a another smaller lake above the trail's namesake. This is a great place to hike on a hot day, and while you might not be able to jump in the lakes, Silver Flat Reservoir's cold waters are waiting for you when you are done.

Horsetail Falls

Tucked away into the northeast corner of the town of Alpine are several trails heading up the steep granite foothills. Most people don't hike the full length of Dry Creek Trail, but instead head about 2 miles up to a really lovely and large waterfall, Horsetail Falls, with incredible views down canyon.

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Explore Utah Valley

Located in the heart of Utah and surrounded by majestic mountains, Utah Valley has the best access to all the state has to offer.

After taking in picturesque lakes, alpine forests, towering peaks, cascading waterfalls, hidden caves, and ancient canyons, explore historic downtowns with 28 international cuisines at 900+ restaurants in this community at the base of the mountains.

The people at local music venues, shops, farmers markets, and at the many festivals create a culture that feels like a warm welcome home–even if you’re not from here. Everything is conveniently close so you have more time to explore nature, experience culture, reconnect with what matters, and focus on what fuels your soul. 

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