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