Hoping to ease into our newly minted Utah residency, and avoid altitude sickness, my family and I started out on our first local hike by setting our GPS for Silver Lake.
Thirty minutes later, when we knew we should have been there already, we were still barreling down I-15 with Google telling us we had 30 minutes of drive time to go.
It was the wrong Silver Lake. We later learned we had planned to go to the Silver Lake Loop, a breeze of a hike in Brighton. Instead we ended up near Silver Lake Trail, a moderate to difficult trek in American Fork Canyon. I say near because the road was closed to construction and even a herd of charging moose couldn’t have convinced us to hike the extra four miles round trip to the trailhead, even if we hadn’t had a 1- and 5-year-old in tow. Our adventurous spirit has its limits.
Despite our blunders, we didn’t leave disappointed. Our ad-lib hike still showcased jaw-dropping mountain vistas and even had a kid-thrilling encounter with horseback riders.
The whole point of this anecdote is to say what pretty much everyone in the state already knows: Utah is oozing with amazing hiking trails. From Logan down to Canyonlands National Park and from Delta across to Vernal, the state has miles upon miles of pathways that lead to beautiful views or quirky landmarks, through painted deserts and deep into the shadow of tall pines.
And we want to introduce, or re-introduce, you to them.
Starting today, we’ll begin building a library of the best hikes in Utah. We’ll roll up our sleeves and dig deep into The Tribune’s extensive Hike of the Week archive for some. Others — like today’s description of the hike to the relatively new Bear Canyon suspension bridge — will be all new eye candy. The idea is to give our readers a catalog of options for wherever they are or plan to be, and whether they’re hiking with the family, or fido or flying solo.
The trails descriptions will live on our Instagram feed as well as on our website.
If you have a favorite hike, or just one you’ve been curious about, let us know and we’ll look into it. And if you try a hike we’ve featured, please comment about the conditions and what made it worth the effort, or not.
Consider this a nudge to go out and wander for a while. No matter where you end up, odds are you won’t be disappointed.
Bear Canyon Suspension Bridge Trail
The hike: The Hidden Valley Park to Bear Canyon Suspension Bridge is the Swiss army knife of hikes. It is open to mountain bikers, hikers and joggers, horses and dogs (in parts). It features views of the Salt Lake Valley and surrounding mountains, wildflowers, a rocky tunnel, a tiny waterfall and several bridge crossings — none more thrilling than on the suspension bridge. Built in 2015 by the Ralph L. Wadsworth Construction Company, Inc., it spans 185 ½ feet across a deep canyon and sways with every step.
Head slightly uphill and south on the paved path and after about 600 feet, take the second left onto a singletrack trail (unless you have a dog, in which case you’ll need to go .25 miles down the paved path until you reach a sign on the left stating dogs are OK). After a quarter mile the dog and watershed hiking trails converge on a wide graveled trail. Head down the stairs to the south and over the small bridge. Follow this trail south, remembering to duck when you reach the rock tunnel, until you come to the log fence marking one end of the Bear Canyon Loop. Dogs are not allowed on this trail. Take the loop trail up and down until you reach the maroon bridge over the creek. This bridge was built by Wadsworth in his own front yard and then dropped by helicopter into place over the stream, just a few yards down from the very small waterfall. He still goes out occasionally to repair and repaint it. Continue on the loop trail back around to the Bonneville Shoreline Trail, turn right and prepare for the moment you’ve been waiting for — crossing the bridge. After you’ve made it safely across, continue north along the BST trail you came up on and retrace your steps back to the park. On the way back, you’ll be treated to views of Mount Olympus and Twin Peaks. Once you’ve ascended the stairs, you’ll have a choice among three trails to return to the park. The first is about a quarter mile longer than the one you came up on. The second, a few feet west, is your original trail. Or, if you brought Fido, you’ll have to descend down the gravel road until you can turn north and return to the parking lot.
This is a mostly exposed trail, so if you go during the summer, you’ll want to bring a hat, sunscreen and plenty of water.
Getting there: The trailhead is at the northeast corner of Hidden Valley Park. The park, true to name, is hidden just to the south of an LDS church with which it shares a driveway. Turn as though you are going into the church, but veer right and then turn right into the park parking lot.
Region: Wasatch Canyons/Draper
Destination: Suspension bridge
Distance: 3 miles
Time: 55 minutes
Elevation Gain: 106 feet
Dogs Allowed: Yes, on leash
Trailhead: Hidden Valley Park, Draper