As above-90 summer days start to transition into the rearview, we thought it appropriate to offer a heads up regarding a beloved, season-changing event that's looming on the horizon: fall colors. Our state is one of the lucky territories wherein dropping temps bring bright streaks of color to our city streets and mountain trails, and there's no shortage of spots from which to take in the splendor. That said, this transformation often happens in a flash and it's best to keep it top of mind so as to not miss it. Accordingly, we've rounded up our picks for trails near SLC that are sure to be flanked by vibrant aspen groves and bright red hues in the coming weeks. Grab a thermos, throw on a couple of layers, and step out...there's gold in them there hills.
1. Bell Canyon: There are plenty of different routes to take in this oft-trafficked, “choose your own adventure”-style hike. The first half, to Bell Canyon Reservoir, is fairly easy, but higher points hold waterfalls and another stunning reservoir. Dogs not allowed. Difficulty varies, distance varies
2. Lake Blanche: This Big Cottonwood trek is fairly steep and lengthy, but the picturesque view of Lake Blanche at its end is well worth it (keep going for three more lakes about .5 miles further in). Be on the look-out for moose. Moderate/high difficulty, ~7 miles out and back
3. White Pine Lake: This is a beautiful hike up Little Cottonwood Canyon, but a challenging one, as well. The alpine lake, often a stunning, bright-blue color, is a reward worth the effort. High difficulty, ~10 miles out and back
4. Lakes Mary, Martha, and Catherine: A series of picturesque mountain lakes up Big Cottonwood. If you go during spring or fall, be sure to soak up some sun on the flat, surrounding rocks before heading back down. These pools are watershed, so no diving, please. Moderate difficulty, ~4 miles out and back
5. Salt Lake Overlook/Desolation Trail: This dog-friendly trail (off-leash on odd days) in Millcreek Canyon is great for bird watching and climbs to an overview of the valley offering a spectacular sunset vista of the Great Salt Lake. In snowy months, spikes are recommended. Moderate difficulty, ~4.9 miles out and back
6. Dog Lake: While the Cottonwoods prohibit pooches for watershed reasons, Millcreek is dog friendly (be advised, pups are always allowed but may only be off-leash on odd-numbered days). The hike up to Dog Lake—one of the can- yon’s most popular destinations—is quite pretty and ends at a pond filled with plenty of happy, stick-chasing pets. Moderate difficulty, 6-mile loop
7. Mount Olympus: Rough escalation gains are the name of the game in this staple SLC hike, but summiting the peak holds some pretty insane valley views (and street cred). Start early— you don’t want to be at its top in high sun. High difficulty, ~6.5 miles out and back
8. Albion Basin: This hike up Little Cottonwood Canyon, which ends in a big, open meadow, is one of the best places to see the wildflowers in bloom during summer months. No pups allowed. Low/moderate difficulty, 3.6 miles out and back.