Whiskey Island Lake sits at 10,400 ft in the High Uintas and is a secluded lake great for a day hike and fishing. If you're really feeling like getting a workout, add on the surrounding peak above the lake, Whiskey Island Peak. This 3 mile routes follows a road for the first 2.2 miles, then it's a choose-your-own-adventure kind of day following your GPS to guide you to the lake since there is no trail the last 3/4 mile. There are several routes to reach Whiskey Island Lake, and if you're feeling adventurous you can turn it into a loop like I did.
Hiking to Mt.Belknap (12,137 ft) is located in the Tushar Mountains, about 4 hours south of SLC, and is one of the taller mountains in the range. The most popular peak in the Tushars is Delano Peak (12,169 ft) because it is the County High Point for both Beaver and Paiute Counties, and is also a much easier trail compared to Belknap. Mt.Belknap is a challenging peak - steep, loose scree is the name of the game here. Another challenging part can be the winter gates - if they are closed then you have a much longer day. If all gates are open, then this is about a 3-4 mile RT hike. However, the gates don't typically open until mid-July, even though a bulk of the snow may be melted. Forest Rangers told me this is because they need time to get up there and still grate the road as well as clear debris.
The Lofty Lakes Loop in the Uintas is a beautiful 4 mile loop that takes you past several high alpine lakes, a few cool overlooks, and is a relatively easy hike for most people. To make this route even better, add on a side trek to Cuberant Lake! It is one of the most popular trails along the Mirror Lake Highway, however don't let that stop you from hiking this loop at least once. This is one of the prettiest day hikes in the area! You can hike this loop in either direction, but counter-clockwise is a bit easier since the elevation gain is done near the beginning of the hike and it's more gradual this way.
Island Lake is one of many gorgeous lakes in the Uintas - it can be hard to choose which lake to visit. This lake offers a quick backpacking trip, cliff jumping, swimming, fishing, & solitude in the summer months. If you are feeling adventurous, you could even hike up to one of the three surrounding peaks. Hiking to Island Lake is an easy, family friendly hike, that even the dogs can join in on.
Hiking to Desolation Lake & Peak in Utah is situated in the Mount Olympus Wilderness, and can be hiked to within 2 hours. Desolation Lake is a beautiful blueish-green alpine lake. The long, gradual incline, and few switchbacks make this a very doable hike for any skill level. Hiking to Desolation Peak requires a little more stamina and comfort with ridges. Be sure to bring plenty of water and a snack to enjoy at the lake. This trail can be hiked year round. This trail is located in Big Cottonwood Canyon, and therefore dogs are not allowed due to the watershed. Please respect this rule. This is a very popular TH and on weekends, parking typically gets full by 7am in the summer.
Haystack Mountain (11,641 ft) is a prominent peak in the LaSal Mountain range just outside of Moab, UT. The LaSal Mountains are the 2nd highest mountain range in Utah, behind the Uinta Mountains. Haystack Mountain is accessible by a trail most of the way - the last 1.5 miles is off trail. The trail itself is mostly well-shaded, with plenty of water for dogs to drink from, from the creek that flows year-round. As you reach the saddle, you'll hike above tree line and will be fully exposed. 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).
Grandstaff Canyon (previously known at Negro Bill Canyon prior to 2016) follows a perennial stream, along tall Navajo Sandstone, through an oasis of cottonwood and willow trees. Most people say it's not about the destination, it's the journey getting there that is more rewarding. I beg to differ with this trail. The payoff at the end is the spectacular Morning Glory Arch, which spans 243ft, and is the 6th largest natural bridge in the U.S.! This is one trail the whole family will enjoy. In Summer, bring your water shoes as crossing in the stream will feel refreshing. In Winter, you may want to bring microspikes, since most of the trail is shaded by canyon walls. Beware of monsoon season, as you may just catch a waterfall at the right time (photos below).
Powell Point (10,188 ft) reveals the top-most layer at the Colorado Plateau's Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. This colored layer, known as the Pink Cliffs, is the same geologic layer that forms Bryce Canyon National Park. In 1872 the Powell Expedition, led by John Wesley Powell, took a team of two men and three horses to make the first summit of Powell Point, then called Table Mountain, and later Pink Point (as the locals still call it to this day) to make the first ascent via the Water Canyon route.
Bullion Falls is a 75 ft waterfall in Fishlake National Forest, just outside Marysvale, Utah. The waterfall is fed by year-round melting snowdrifts part of Bullion Canyon and the Tushar Mountains. The hike is only 1 mile from the trailhead, and is great for dogs and kids. Summer months are bustling with ATVs, so hiking during the week or off-season is best to avoid the noise and crowds.
Willis Creek Slot Canyon is located only 45 minutes from Bryce Canyon National Park, yet tourists hardly ever make the drive to the trailhead. Willis Creek slot canyon offers not only marbled, narrow canyon walls, but it is also entirely flat, has a small waterfall, beautiful scenery in between the sections of the narrows, and it is suitable for any age or hiking ability.