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Elk, deer, ducks on the hiking trail in southern Utah

Published June 14, 2012 9:03 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Boulder Mountain - There are great trails in Utah, and then there are trails where you say, "Wow, I can't believe I saw that."

I hiked on the latter Sunday. The Deer Creek Lake trail was a wild kingdom of deer, elk, ducks and even butterflies.

On the drive from Torrey to Springdale, I was looking for a trail I could hike in about three hours. While driving over Boulder Mountain on Highway 12, I saw a sign for the Deer Creek Lake trailhead on the Dixie National Forest.

About a quarter mile into the hike, I looked ahead and saw a doe straddling the trail. That's a normal sight on the Dixie, but it doesn't get old either.

The doe scurried into the brush. When I reached the spot where she'd stood, I looked toward the north and saw an even better animal: An elk with his head turned toward me on a ridge a few hundred yards above me.

The elk stood so still I wondered if he was one of those decoys the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources uses to catch poachers. I drew my binoculars and watched. About a minute later, three more elk arrived on the ridge.

I watched them until they left. I made sure to keep the binoculars in my hand for the remainder of the hike. It paid off when I saw what I believe now to be a common black-hawk overhead. I was still only about a 1/2 mile into the hike.

The hike itself was beautiful. The trail wound through meadows that still had wildflowers and woods.

At the lake, I saw ducks sitting on the water. The return to the car had one more treat: butterflies were fluttering near where I saw the elk and deer.

Look for more about the trail to Deer Creek Lake in what should be a spectacular forthcoming Hike of the Week.

Corection: An eaerlier version of this post called it "Duck Creek Lake."

— Nate Carlisle

Twitter: @UtahHikes