Ski Lake is located in between Victor, Idaho and Jackson Hole, WY, and sits at an elevation of 8,650 ft. Locals says this is the easiest alpine lake to hike to in the area at only 4 miles RT! The trail is very mellow and great for all ages, including dogs off leash. Along the way you'll have amazing views of mountains to the South and East for the first mile, cross a stream, and end with an amazing lake with clear blue water. Be sure to start early though - not only does parking fill up quickly on weekends but this trail is all on the East side of the slope making it all in the sun. There are a few sections of shade, but even by 10am we were all sweating - and it was only 65F! Pack a snack, and let the dogs enjoy taking a swim at Ski Lake!
The Darby Canyon Wind Caves are located near Alta, WY, within the Jedediah Smith Wilderness ("the backside" of the Tetons). This is a very popular trail, so don't expect to have any solitude - you'll constantly be pulling over to let others pass, even horses, and the parking lot is full by 10am on weekends. But don't let that stop you from visiting at least once! The Wind Caves are a really cool, local geological feature called the "Darby Formation" - a thick layer of 350 year old dolomite. Don't forget that this is still bear territory - even though this is a heavily used trail, always carry bear spray. The best time to visit is when the snow is gone so you can actually hike up into the cave, typically late June through September. Dogs are also allowed off leash, and older kids will enjoy this gradual trail.
Table Mountain (11,106 ft) is located within the Jedediah-Smith Wilderness of Wyoming, and features amazing views of the lesser-viewed side of the backside of the Tetons. The Grand Teton, South, and Middle Teton are the star of the show here, as they tower over Cascade Canyon.
Wyoming Peak (11, 383 ft) is the tallest mountain in the Wyoming Mountain Range, located in West-Central Wyoming. On the summit lies an old fire lookout in shambles, but don't let that distract from the rest of the breathtaking views! The trail itself is mostly long switchbacks, gaining 2,500 ft in just 4 miles. Sections of the trail are forested with some shade, other sections are fields of sagebrush. However, the last mile opens up and you will be hiking in alpine terrain. This trail has a wide diversity of ecosystems and plants. There is nothing technical with hiking to Wyoming Peak - just plan on it taking most the day, bring plenty of water and snacks, and sunblock! We started out hiking in 36F temps, but by the end of the day my quads were sunburned! Dogs will enjoy this trail too, but again, bring water for them as there is none along the route. The best time to hike this is in July, August, and September when the roads are completely dry to access the unofficial trailhead.
The Avenues Twin Peaks is another one of my go-to after work hikes. This hike is the most beautiful in Spring during Sunset, when the yellow flowers are blooming, the hills are green, and the temperature is just right; however this trail can be hiked year round. The Avenues Twin Peaks is almost always windy, so a light jacket is recommended. There is no water and no shade, and the trailhead is a popular spot for mountain bikers to depart on their ride.
White Pine Lake in Little Cottonwood Canyon (LCC) sits at 10,200 ft, and is surrounded by several peaks. The trail follows an old mining road, so it is very wide and gradual. Even though you'll hike 5.5 miles one way, you'll only gain about 2,500 ft - not bad by Wasatch standards. The trail is only accessible in Summer months, typically from June until October. Dogs are not allowed on this trail due to it being within a watershed area (all of LCC is off limits to dogs). Start early to beat the crowds and heat. My friend Sarah and I parked at 5:30am on a Saturday, and 5 minutes later several more cars arrived completely filling up the parking lot. By the time we got back, cars lined the sides of the main road if they were able to find extra spots. As with any hike, be prepared to carry at least 2 liters of water, a snack, long sleeve shirt (even in summer it can be chilly at the lake), and sunblock.
Lambs Canyon is located off I-80 after passing through Parley's Canyon, but before you reach Jeremy Ranch. Lambs Canyon is part of the county Watershed, and therefore, dogs are not allowed. There are multiple signs saying no dogs, and there was even a county sheriff patrolling the area as well, so don't even attempt to bring them up here. It's a bummer to leave dogs at home, but every once in awhile I want to do a hike that Charlie can't.
The Bowman Fork Trail is located in Millcreek Canyon, and is popular for summiting Gobbler's Knob. I usually do this hike after work during the week and don't have time (or sometimes the energy!) to hike to the summit, so my goal is always White Fir Pass. I really like this trail in the summer months because it's really well shaded, cooler, and it follows a stream that the dogs and drink from and play in. In Winter, it's nice snowshoeing because you will hardly see anyone up here.
Spirit Lake sits in the High Uintas Wilderness on the far East end of the range, with the lake at 10,180 ft. Access to this area is only open from the end of June (sometimes early July depending on the snow pack) through October. In winter months you'll need a snowmobile to reach this far into the wilderness. Summer brings daily afternoon rain storms, mosquitos, blooming flowers, cool temperatures, and wildlife. There are activities for the whole family - kayaking, fishing, hiking, camping, backpacking, you name it! Dogs are allowed off leash on the trails, ands kids will enjoy exploring the area. Pack your camp gear, and let's go!
Sunset Peak via Catherine Pass (10,648 ft) offers a 360 degree view of the Wasatch Mountains, plus a view of Heber City, Park City, and the Salt Lake Valley. Hiking up via Catherine Pass contains a great mix of meadow, wooded areas, a fantastic vistas. Hiking this trail provides for a good workout, but getting to the peak doesn't require months of training. While this trail is only 3.5 miles one way, your calves will burn on the elevation gain! The best time of year to hike this is typically July when the wildflowers are in full bloom.