Big Cottonwood Canyon Hikes

Hi there!

I hope everyone’s summer is wrapping up nicely. It has gone by so fast and I’m a tad bit (ok, a lot a bit) sentimental because I’m trying to soak up every last day before I head back to work since having Declan. We’ve had 3 full weeks jam packed with family visits and exploring which has been incredible and heartwarming. The summer season has been wonderful because its hot enough to sweat but the mountains still have snow caps. Utah really is a complete package when it comes to weather.

We took advantage of this weather and headed up to Big Cottonwood Canyon to get some hiking in. Two hikes which I’ve been dying to do since we moved out here and it couldn’t have been the better opportunity while family was out here to head up to the mountains.

Donut Falls

Talk about a trail with character! Donut falls is incredibly charming. It is perfect for young kids, has plenty of places to pull off and eat a snack or play in the snow melt and even better, smells like Christmas! It has the perfect amount of shade and sun exposure. I will say it is a highly trafficked trail and there were a lot of people when we went (granted, it was independence day weekend maybe played a factor into that). We didn’t go into the donut because the water was pretty intense still from the long winter we had this year in Utah. Definitely on our list to go back again during the fall! Make sure to wear good hiking boots as some parts of the terrain we crossed were rocky, covered with tree roots, and water near the falls. The water is freezing and there was a point that we couldn’t avoid getting our feet wet to get where we wanted to be on the trail. When you head back there is a fork to return the way you came or to continue a straight exit, I suggest taking the straight ahead path. It was untouched, more calm, and we didn’t see anyone else on the trail.

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Lake Mary – Brighton Lakes Trail

Also located a few miles up from Donut Falls are the Bright Lakes that can be accessed through the Brighton Ski Resort parking lot. There are signs to direct you but Google Maps took us to a drive way. If you happen to do these lakes, park in the ski resort lot and then look for the pavilion sign. So, there are 3 lakes that are on the same trail, the first and closest one to the resort is Lake Mary which is doable with children in the summer. I’m not sure what the winter season would look like for a kiddo. The trail starts off pretty steep so don’t over exert yourself, but levels out eventually. Once you get on the last stretch before the lake you encounter crossing over slick rocks and running water. I felt confident with my hiking boots, but really wished I had a hiking stick too! We saw a couple people slip and fall that weren’t wearing good boots or stable on their feet. The lake was so peaceful and breathtaking. I think we took easily 100 pictures but none of them do it justice. I’d assume continuing the trail would bring you to the remainder of the Lakes Lake Cathrine is 7 miles out. We didn’t do this because we had little ones on our backs! And also…Florida lungs still, ha! One thing we forgot on this hike was secured containers for our food… which we realized when these adorable chipmunks were stealing our snacks while we were taking pictures.

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I hope you get the opportunity to visit these two popular trails up in Big Cottonwood Canyon! They’re incredible and perfect family friendly hikes and right now the weather is perfect!

Bear Canyon Suspension Bridge, Draper, Utah

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The trails have been alive and busy with this beautiful weather Utah’s been having. After weeks of rain for the first weeks of summer and later part of spring, everyone is now out exploring.

Suspension Bridge Trail is in Draper, Utah which is about 15-20 minutes from the city, depending on time of day and traffic. There are a handful of access points to this trail and we chose the Orson Smith Park Trail Head to get to the bridge. This trail is a 2.3 RT loop, which is my favorite, with a 439 foot elevation change. That is information I found on my All Trails App. I’m glad this is the way we chose to start because the entrance of the trailhead has restrooms, water fountains, covered picnic tables and a rock area for children to play at. The restrooms were incredibly clean and smelled great! Totally unexpected plus!

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This trail has switchbacks left and right and going up is a significant incline, there’s a creek if you wanted to stop and soak up some shade. Otherwise, the trail doesn’t offer much shade. On the way up you’ll get decent views of the city but what you won’t be able to take your eyes off is the mansions in the valley as you go up. Once you get to the suspension bridge you’ll have a view of Bear Canyon and a watershed run off. Depending on the season, it may or may not be roaring. For us, the water was high and made for a relaxing view. We hung out on the bridge for a short bit before continuing, because it was just so hot!

My very best advice for this trail is to complete it clockwise! If you go counter clockwise, you’ll hit serious, steep switchbacks, which may exhaust kiddos or you if you’re carrying one. There were tons of kids on this trail and it’s super family friendly.

Have you downloaded the All Trails App? We just purchased a yearly subscription, which gives us access to saving our favorite hikes, different types of maps like weather overlay, trailhead markers, and so much more. The yearly subscription is only $30. For as much as we’ve been using it lately, I’d say it was worth it.

Happy hiking!

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Bear Lake, Utah & Limber Pine Trail

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One thing a Florida Native never lacks is accessibility to water! I’ve been to my share of lakes, rivers, springs, and oceans. All of which in my opinion are relaxing and breathtaking. However, I’ve never seen a body of water as clear and turquoise as Bear Lake in Garden City, Utah.

Bear Lake is about 2.5 hours from Salt Lake City, Utah. All weekend I tried to find adjectives to describe this place and I couldn’t quite put one word out. Untouched, enchanted, calm, small town, relaxing were some I came up with. There are tons of places to camp in Garden City. We booked a lake side campground at Bear Lake State Park and we rented an RV from Outdoorsy (comparable to AirBnB, but for campers…. I highly recommend if you’re traveling with a little one or thinking about purchasing a camper but shopping around). While the weather was not what I planned for months ago when I booked it, this charming town still was worth layering up for in the cold weather. The Lake was 41 degrees when we were there!

Camping with Declan was difficult! As far as sleeping arrangements go we all slept together which was a tight squeeze and also tricky because there were no barriers for when he feel asleep but we were still awake! I guess if I had to do it again, we’d take a pack and play for him to sleep in, but there wasn’t even room for that in our camper that we had. I’ll continue the hiking with a baby on another post!

We managed to travel over to Idaho. Here we drove through Cache National Forest.  We enjoyed the views and stopped at a few streams and campgrounds to let Declan play. Everything was so green and apline, the air was crisp we could have stayed here all day. We’d love to camp here in the future! It’s more back country, but would keep any kid busy with all the nature and creeks surrounding it.

Limber Pine Trail is a short trail, charming, and super family/kid friendly! It’s about 1.3 miles RT and it loops around. Personally, I love loop hikes it just seems more culminating to me. Especially with kids. The hike is super interactive with fact maps and infographics along the trail. I loved this because I learned so much about Bear Lake while on this hike. The trail was really shaded and there were benches and secluded areas to stop and eat lunch if you wanted to soak in the views! The trail ends with a gorgeous view of Bear Lake.

All weekend I tried to get a picture to capture the lake, I simply couldn’t. Eric and I talked about what a fun place Bear Lake would be as a annual family summer vacation. You can rent cabins, camp, rent all types of boats or bring your own, tube on the lake, wakeboard, fish, tons of mom and pop food locations, horse back riding, ATVs and I’m probably missing some activities!

One of my favorite parts of this trip was all the wildlife we saw! Roaming Moose (a swimming one too), free range cattle, fox, a bald eagle family with a little baby, tons of birds (white pelicans!), funky caterpillars, chipmunks, fish were jumping like crazy!, and mule deer.

Eric and I spent our last night perfecting our S’mores roasting technique and making future plans to come back!

 

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The Living Room Hike

The Living Room Trail

 

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Attempt 2 was a success Memorial Day Weekend!

If you’re ever visiting Salt Lake and Google “Salt Lake Hikes” it is very likely that this one will pop up. This trail is very common and the view is definitely worth it. The Living Room Hike will turn out to be a bit challenging if you aren’t from the area or used to Utah’s thin air. Our Florida lungs are still adjusting to the elevation change in general, let alone the dramatic change on this one.

The trail is highly trafficked especially in the early spring because everyone is just itching to get outside after the snow has melted. Everything is green and blooming it is truly beautiful. It isn’t marked and there are a lot of makeshift or cut throughs that people have created to get to the top. Make sure you have the All Trails App to see the actual GPS trail. You can certainly follow the crowds because there are several ways to get to the top.

Make sure to bring your hiking books and some snacks because there are a ton of rocks and steep inclinations. Snacks to enjoy the view at the top! The elevation change alone on this hike is 967 feet in less than 3 miles. This puts you 6,005 feet above sea level. That just gives me chills. Once you get to the top and pop a squat on the “rock couches” (seems like an oxymoron) you’ll want to enjoy your snacks while taking in the view. The reason this hike is called “The Living Room” is because the rocks at the top are arranged in ways that portray couches and love seats, essentially a living room and your t.v. is the City of Salt Lake.

I loved this trail because you literally could see everything in the city and all the major mountain ranges. There were a lot of people and dogs (on and off leash) and people of all ages.

To recap, don’t forget the following:

  • hiking boots and or spikes if it is winter seasons
  • sunscreen
  • hat
  • snacks and water
  • All Trails App to stay on track

Fostering A Love for Reading

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Hi friends,

Lately Declan’s had me feeling all inspired (what’s new?) and he’s been really into books lately. I have only been capitalizing on this time because I know, like most 7 month olds, this too shall pass. Oh, but I’m hoping it doesn’t!

I’ve been reading to Declan since…before he was born. The life of a teacher, right? Even when he was days old we read books. As we developed our daily routine and schedule reading has always been a part of our day. There are so many ways to incorporate reading into your days with an infant. Right now we read a book as a “wind down” before naptime.  Declan knows when we sit in our chair to read that it is time to settle down for a nap.  When we go to restaurants or somewhere where Declan needs to be occupied, we bring books (and some toys that light up too). We read books in the bath and now he’s choosing to play with them over his toys. Declan is coordinating how to turn pages and now we’re starting to talk about pictures as he’s able to sustain his attention and focus for longer periods of time. I’ve got a little book worm on my hands! And gosh, I’m so in love.

So last week Declan and I arrived (almost late) to our reading class at the local library and to my surprise it was cancelled for the reset of the month. OMG. Nobody told me this, but I probably should have paid closer attention to the one out of fifty flyers on the door stating that it was cancelled… ANYWAYS, we made the most out of our trip to the library and Declan got a library card! Along with his library card he is also a part of a program called “A Thousand Books Before Kindergarten” which is a glorified title for his “Reading Log.” But I enjoy filling it out and I’m excited to give it to him when he’s older.

Reading truly does so much for children and it’s crazy how something so simple can affect a person so much.  I wanted to share some statistics that I usually send home to parents in my classroom and also some of Declan’s Favorite books with you guys! Reading is so important and the more we expose our children to books the better their background knowledge, vocabulary and lexicons, imagination, expression, phonics, word recognition, EVERYTHING! Ironically, Declan’s gym posted recently on a similar topic and I just loved this article and thought it was fitting. The Bump: Kids Who Are Read To Before Kindergarten Know 1 Million More Words Than Peers. 

Some numbers that stood out to me from this article!

  • Never read to: 4,662 words
  • Read to 1 to 2 times a week: 63,570 words
  • Read to 3 to 5 times a week: 169,520 words
  • Read to daily: 296,660 words
  • Read 5 books a day: 1,483,300 words

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Declan is still entertained with touch and feel books and I try to keep the books pretty general for his age. So, anything with the ABC’s or counting is good. Babies exposed to these concepts by repetition will be successful when it is time to learn these skills in school. Linked below are our favorite books right now.

Never Touch A Dinosaur

Never Touch A Shark

Never Touch A Dragon

Never Touch A Monster

Touch and Feel Baby Animals

Little Book About ABCs

Good Morning, Goodnight! 

Peek a Who? 

Baby Fish 

Ten Little Night Stars

Bath Books (They’re waterproof, you can also purchase these at Wal-Mart) 

 

What are you reading with your little one? I would love new recommendations!

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Dark Trail in Settlement Canyon

Hi friends! Today our little family geared up for a hike close to home. We also loaded up our Fur Baby, Emma (AKA Em Bemz, Emmi, Emma McMann) for her first hike since our honeymoon 3 years ago! Emma isn’t perfect, but she’s perfect for trails. It was so nice to travel a short distance to a trail.  It made me feel extra grateful for living and being in a tranquil place.

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Dark Trail in Settlement Canyon

is about 35 minutes from the city of Salt Lake and 15 minutes from Stansbury Park.  It is 3.3 miles round trip. It didn’t offer the beautiful mountain views and it honestly didn’t have a “reward” at the end! HOWEVER, it was the perfect hike for our family today and I’ll tell you why!

It was quiet, well paved, so green, running water, shaded while also having the sun peeking through, and a good elevation change of 393ft.  The most amazing thing about this trail was how there were open spots to stop and rest or in our case let Declan stretch his legs. I’ve had so much on my mind lately. Eric and I got to declutter my thoughts a bit. These conversations usually occur at the dinner table, but it was such a nice change of pace and scenery to figure it all out.

You can also take your horses on this trail and dogs are allowed as long as they’re leashed.  We saw a lot of runners, backcountry campers, and birds! This is an easy hike for anyone looking for an afternoon unwind or a quiet, shaded run out of the Utah sun! I was really glad we decided to check this trail off our list today, get regrouped, and also let Emmi get her paws dirty!

Anyone else just need some time outside and fresh air to declutter their thoughts!? What helps you feel centered and focused? IMG-1614IMG-1621

 

Buffalo Point at Antelope Island

Hey friends! Hope everyone is having a wonderful start to your spring activities! School is wrapping up and my beautiful tulips are blooming, summer is coming! I don’t know about you, but this Florida Girl was thrilled to see temperatures rise here in Utah this week.  Our little family gathered our bags and headed over to Antelope Island to try Buffalo Point Trail again.  We attempted this hike in February, but temps were still too low for our little dude and the wind was wicked.

What a beautiful day it was! We hit 62 degrees towards the end of April and in Utah that’s perfect hiking weather.  If you’re looking for an easy hike with some inclination I highly recommend heading over to Antelope Island in Syracuse, Utah. It is a State Park and a $10 entry fee per vehicle. It is about 35 minutes outside of Salt Lake City.  This hike was perfect 1 mile round trip with a lot of variation and switchbacks. Once you get to the top it’s a rock garden! All your inner childhood exploring kicks in and before you know it you’re out of breath.  I loved this hike because it provided gorgeous 360 views of the Great Salt Lake, Ogden, and the Stansbury Mountains. It’s not long at all which makes it perfect for young children. We also took time to hike Lady Finger Trail at the park as well. There is also a TON of wildlife here. Check out pictures below!

A couple things I would recommend on this hike:

  1. Bug Spray- the mosquitos and gnats that swarm are insane!
  2. Sun Screen- 62 degrees on a clear day and no sunscreen= sunburn for you. We all used our 50 SPF Baby Bum Sunscreen which we love!
  3. Tube Socks of some sort or breathable hiking pants- to avoid scratches and plants that are irritating along the narrow trail path.

Alright, now I need your help! Eric and I are ready to bite the bullet and get a hiking carrier for Declan. He’s got the neck strength and he’s super into everything that’s going on around him. What hiking carrier reqs do you all have? We don’t want something super bulky and some type of a shade for Declan.

 

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