Utah Canyon Country: 20 Must-See Sites and Short Hikes is Laurie J. Schmidt's newest book release - I was so excited to get my hands on a copy! Packed with local tales and history, I was curious as to which hikes I had not yet completed. As most Utahan's know, southern Utah is home to thousands of miles of arches, slot canyon, natural bridges, hoodoos, and more. Laurie does a great job of pointing out the best of the best - 20 sites and short hikes you can't miss! This book is the perfect option for those just looking to visit Utah for a few days, or even those that have lived in Utah for years, but have not yet explored this territory. Grab your reading glasses, cup of coffee, and check out everything Utah Canyon Country has to offer!
Eccentric Benchmark (12,276 ft) is the highest point for both Uintah & Daggett Counties in Utah, making it a popular summit for peak baggers. It's a high, rounded mountain in the Far East Uintas. What it lacks in views from the summit, makes up along the cross country trek with views as far as King's Peak to the West, and the Flaming Gorge to the Northeast. Although there is no official trail leading to the summit, hiking here is actually quite easy. You'll first pass by three man-made lakes (Chepeta, Papoose, & Moccasin), then work up a short, but steep boulder field, before hiking across high-alpine terrain and reaching the peak.
The "Wasatch 7" Peaks are the seven major peaks that line Utah Valley. They are all challenging peaks that require a full day of hiking - some with route finding, some with a perfect trail. Most of these peaks also have a lot of elevation gain, and therefore are not for the beginner hiker. Because the Wasatch 7 Peaks are all over 10,000 ft, they are typically only accessible in summer months, when the dirt roads are open, and the trails are free of snow - this only leaves a few months to summit all 7 peaks. Most people take a few years to complete all summits - others have completed them in one summer. No matter how much time you have to dedicate to completing all of them, they surely live up to Utah's motto - "Life Elevated!"
Cascade Mountain (10,908 ft) is the large mountain located directly above Orem, Utah and is one of the "Wasatch 7" Peaks. Not many people hike to summit, as it requires a full day and all routes are difficult. However, for Peak Baggers it's a must. It's crazy how just to the north of Provo Canyon is one of the most popular summits - Mt. Timpanogos. It's also interesting how different the terrain is compared to each other, and how much more difficult Cascade is.
The Shingle Creek Trail in the High Uintas is a popular trail for an "early season" trail for hikers and backpackers to follow when the higher elevations haven't thawed out from winter. I have driven past this trail so many times, yet had never done it - until now! I decided to head up for one night with two friends and our destination was South Erickson Lake. East Shingle Creek Lake is more popular, but a little lower in elevation, and seemed to have more mosquitos so we wanted to keep going.
Mt. Watson (11,521 ft) is located on the West end of the High Uintas Wilderness, and though it is surrounded by several popular trails and lakes, most people do not summit this peak. There is a trail for the first 2 miles, but you're on your own after that to reach the top. That's what makes part of this peak fun - it's a "choose your own path" adventure!
Kermsuh Lake is an alpine lake in the High Uintas Wilderness. It sits at an elevation of 10,200 ft, making it the perfect cooler destination while the SLC valley is baking in heat. Kermsuh Lake sits in one of the three basins in Christmas Meadows - Ryder and Amethyst Lake are the other two, more popular lakes.