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 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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