The Angel Lake Rec Area is a popular hiking, fishing, and camping spot just outside of Wells, Nevada. You've probably seen the brown sign off I-80 for this area, but drove past. I'm here to tell you its worth the stop! Not only is this area very dog and kid friendly, but the lakes, views, and surrounding peaks make this a very enjoyable visit. The shortest hike in the area is Smith Lake, at just 1.3 miles one way.
White Pocket is a beautiful area for outdoor lovers in search of Navajo Sandstone, including domes, hoodoos, potholes, and more. It's located in a 20 by 20 mile zone, within the Paria Plateau and Vermillion Cliffs National Monument. Hiking around and exploring White Pocket is easy - it's the drive that is the hard part.
Lake Hardy is a high alpine lake located within the Lone Peak Wilderness. The lake itself sits at just above 10,000 ft so it's a great escape from the heat, however, it takes quite a bit of effort to reach it. There are two trails to get there, so I decided to turn into a clockwise loop, and it ended up being perfect.
The Portal Overlook is a great overview looking down to Moab, UT as well as the LaSal Mountains and Colorado River. It's a perfect sunrise hike or good trail when you need something short with a great reward! This isn't a trail you want to do middle of summer - zero shade and water, plus lots of bikers, along with the desert heat will make this miserable and can potentially burn dogs paws. The best time to hike this is in Spring or late Fall when the temps have cooled off. Winter would be okay too, just bring microspikes. While this trail is short, I still carried 2 liters of water for just me and Charlie and we both drank it all. You'll definitely get a workout in as this climbs 800 ft to the overlook.
Mt.Tomasaki (12,239 ft) is a peak in the LaSal Mountains, and one of seven "12ers" in the range. The LaSal Mountains are the 2nd highest mountain range in Utah, behind the Uinta Mountains. Mt.Tomasaki is accessible by a trail half of the way from the Burro Pass TH, and then the second half is off trail but is easy hiking across the high alpine terrain. The trail itself is mostly exposed, with no water source. Start hiking early in the morning to beat the afternoon thunderstorms that occur almost daily in this mountain range. The best time to summit is Summer and Fall (typically late June to the first snowfall in October). Call the LaSal Ranger to make sure Geyser Pass is open before planning your hike here.
Shelly Baldy Peak (11, 321 ft) is one of the many prominent peaks located in the Tushar Mountains within Fishlake National Forest. This one is for the peak baggers however, while Shelly Baldy Peak (SBP) isn't even in the top 5 for the tallest peaks in the Tushars, the easy North ridge approach at only 2 miles one way offers amazing 360 degree views. Follow the Mud Lake trail for 1 mile, then veer off trail and catch the ridge all the way for the last mile over unbalanced loose rock.
Blue Lake is located in the Tushar Mountains at the base of Mt.Belknap and Mt.Baldy. This turquoise blue lake has a flood control structure on the outlet, and is rimmed with downed trees. Most people haven't seen the lake full, yet the hike down it it offers amazing views of both peaks, as well as takes you through a variety of terrain - from forested sections to obvious avalanche paths, all while crossing streams.
Salt Creek Canyon Falls is a family-friendly hike in the Mt.Nebo Wilderness that even dogs can hike to! It's great for all ages, making this a popular hike in summer. You won't find solitude here, however, playing in the water is very refreshing! The trail is only 1.5 miles to reach the falls so it's a great quick hike if you're short on time; if you have all or half a day, then bring your backpacking chair, drinks, sunblock, and hang out for awhile! Be aware that ranchers do run their cattle up here randomly and therefore cow patties are often present. This trail does get hot, but if you plan to play in the water it's not that bad. Just bring plenty of water to drink.
Haystack Mountain (10,985 ft) is a long, prominent ridge in the High Uintas, easily accessed from the Crystal Lake Trailhead. Not to be confused with this Haystack Mountain in the LaSal Mountains near Moab, this one is much easier and shorter! The Haystack ridge extends for a full 3 miles and is one of the easiest peaks to bag in the Uintas - you follow a trail for the first two miles, then leave the trail for the last 1.75 miles. It's really easy cross-country hiking with very gently boulder hopping - a great intro to some of the harder Uintas peaks with bigger boulders. You get great views of the entire Washington/Trial Lakes area to the North, plus 360 views of the other surrounding areas.
The Crag Crest Trail is located in Grand Mesa National Forest, one hour from Grand Junction, CO. It is a popular area in the summer for hiking, fishing, and camping; in the winter, for snowmobiling and cross country skiing. The Crag Crest trail is well known for its 2 mile long "crest" or ridge that provides great views of Colorado's Highest Mesa, hence the name, "grand mesa". There is nothing technical about this hike, and even older kids and dogs can do this trail. On the weekend we chose to come here, there were fires all in the West, so we didn't have great views. However, on a clear day you can see all the way to the San Juan Mountains, the LaSal Mountains in Utah, and more! The best time of year to hike this is typically late June through September when the snow is gone and the trails are dry.