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7 family-friendly hikes to see Utah’s fall foliage

More of a walk than a hike, these easy family-friendly trails allow almost everyone to see Mother Nature’s fall colors in their full glory this October

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A family hikes at Jordan Pines as the fall colors are starting to change up Big Cottonwood Canyon on Sept. 25, 2023.

A family hikes at Jordan Pines as the fall colors are starting to change up Big Cottonwood Canyon on Monday, Sept. 25, 2023.

Megan Nielsen, Deseret News

The leaves are changing, the temperatures are cooling down and the bugs are going to sleep. It’s the perfect time to enjoy nature and breathe some fresh air with family along the Wasatch Front.

Does Utah have good fall foliage?

Utah’s fall is full of vibrant oranges, yellows, reds and even purples from north to south as the season changes, usually in late September to mid-October. The mountains and forests make the leaves quite the unique feature within the state.

Is it good to hike in the fall?

Utah is well known for staying active and hiking, with several national and state parks.

But during the fall, hiking is even more pleasant than hiking in summer, when temperatures can reach up to 100 degrees.

Not to mention, fresh air has amazing health benefits for the body, such as the ability to reduce depression, increase overall mental well-being, improve breathing, normalize sleep patterns and improve immune function, reported Healthline.

If you’re still not convinced, just remember when temperatures start to cool down, the bugs aren’t as prominent and it can be more enjoyable (especially if you aren’t a big bug person). Ticks are also not as big of a concern, because their active season ends in mid-July for Utah, per The University of Utah’s Utah Pests extension.

What should I wear hiking in October?

Part of hiking in the seasonal weather means being prepared for warmer and cooler temperatures as Utah tends to switch quickly between the two, especially with elevational changes.

Whether it’s a short or long hike, layering with a base layer will be your best friend.

What are the best family-friendly hikes in Utah for the fall?

This list includes trails near Ogden, Salt Lake City and Provo.

Fall hikes near Ogden, Utah

  • Green Pond in Huntsville starts with a bit of an incline but evens out not too far in and makes for a pleasant walk, per Utah.com. It's a 2.6-mile out-and-back trail near Snowbasin Resort, but you can stop and turn back whenever and still be rewarded with some stunning fall colors before they’re gone in mid-October.
  • The Great Ogden Divide has trails galore for hikers, bikers, horseback riders and ATVs. The highest peak in the area, Ben Lomond, will offer gorgeous views of the surrounding fall foliage if you’re looking for a more moderate hike, per Visit Utah.

Fall hikes near Salt Lake City, Utah

  • Silver Lake Loop in Big Cottonwood Canyon has some of the most spectacular views and is ADA-accessible for most of the way. The trail itself is just over a mile loop around Silver Lake and can be found by the Solitude Nordic Center in the canyon, per the U.S. Forest Service.
  • Willow Heights Trail in Brighton is fairly secluded in the popular Big Cottonwood Canyon and is a 2.5-mile round-trip loop, per Utah.com. It has a steep incline for the first 0.4 miles and is somewhat overgrown in some parts. This trail has a beautiful view of a little lake and aspen trees.
  • Allpenbock Loop near Sandy is in Little Cottonwood Canyon. The trail is a 1.7-mile loop, per the hiking website AllTrails. It breaks off for several climbing routes but makes for a beautiful view of the granite canyon walls contracted with the autumn leaves.

Fall hikes near Provo, Utah

  • Grotto Falls is one of blogger Natalie Ockey’s favorite family-friendly hikes. It’s just over half a mile round trip with only a slight elevation change. The hike has wooden plank bridges throughout and a tree-lined walk and you get to drive Nebo Loop, which in and of itself is quite the sight in the fall.
  • Cascade Springs is located near the Alpine Loop Scenic Byway close to Provo and Heber, per the U.S. Forest Service. There is a $3 fee to get onto the road but the trail is mostly paved and stroller-friendly, with fall foliage on either side.