City Hiking Guides

The Best Hiking Trails Around Salt Lake City

POSTED ON September 18, 2021 BY Ralph S.

Salt Lake City is an outdoor heaven for adventure seekers all around the world, and you won’t be surprised when you find out why! Blessed with the Wasatch Range in the east and the Oquirrh Mountains in the west, it’s considered a dream destination for skiers in the winter. During all of the other seasons, it turns into a go-to spot for hikers. Salt Lake City hiking trails feature mesmerizing waterfalls and streams, crystal-clear lakes, rocks that look like furniture, beautiful meadows of wildflowers, and jaw-dropping city views — hikers have always found themselves speechless in front of the beauty of these places!

There really is a lot to see here, and it’s so hard to choose which trail to go on first. So instead, we’ve done it for you; in this article, we’ve created a list of the most outstanding hikes near Salt Lake City. Some of them are classic all-time favorites, while others are more “under the radar” if you’re looking for new adventures! Prepare all of your hiking equipment and lace up your boots because you’re about to discover the top 21 trails to hit near Salt Lake City.

Mount Olympus

  • Trail Length: 6.6 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 4,190 feet
  • Difficulty: Hard

Mount Olympus is one of the most well-known viewable mountains in Salt Lake Valley. It has a steep, unshaded trail that makes it super challenging for hikers to walk along during the hot summer. But if you think you’re unprepared to take on mount Olympus, you can still enjoy some exploration at the trail’s lower section.

Though its peak isn’t the tallest in the Wasatch Range, its phenomenal shape makes it a point of attraction among hikers. And it probably earned its cool Greek name (after the mythical Mount Olympus, home of the Greek gods) because of how difficult of a hike it is to the top.

Each step on Mount Olympus is an adventure in itself. You’ll get to see views of the whole city. Don’t want to see it all alone? Take your dog with you! Other than the steep, rocky climb that’s closer towards the summit, this whole trail is dog-friendly.

Mount Olympus

Neff’s Canyon

  • Trail Length: 8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 3,600 feet
  • Difficulty: Challenging

You won’t want to miss this charming canyon trail. With Neff’s Canyon, you’ll get short of breath and gain an elevation of 1,000 feet per mile. The reward? Sweeping views of the canyon. And because Neff’s Canyon is dog-friendly, don’t hesitate to bring your dog to enjoy the hike with you as well.

Beautiful wildflowers are found studding the canyon’s trail, particularly in the meadow of Mt. Olympus Wilderness. It’s recommended to enjoy this hike during the summer, but be sure to bring plenty of water to stay hydrated and keep yourself cool.

First, you head into the hills through a fancy neighborhood in the eastern part of the valley. The trail begins as a service road surrounded by shrubs and other vegetation, and it quickly gains elevation, narrowing into a dirt road as it reaches higher altitudes. Then, you’ll end up crossing a gentle stream into a green meadow that gives off alpine vibes.

Bell’s Canyon

  • Trail Length: 4.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,460 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate

When walking along this stunning canyon, expect to see beautiful granite and amazing views everywhere, as well as an enchanting stream along the trail. From the trailhead, only two miles separate you from a mesmerizing waterfall in the middle of the canyon.

You can have a one-of-a-kind picnic next to the water, but don’t get too close to the end of the stream because it’s very slippery up there and you might fall down the waterfall.

If you haven’t run out of energy yet, the trail doesn’t end there. You have three more miles to hike toward the upper reservoir in a cirque under Lone Peak’s summit. If you can make it there, reaching it will be very rewarding.

The trail makes a steep ascent over Sandy’s Wasatch Boulevard. But while on the path, don’t forget to enjoy the view of the canyon and its granite-studded walls.

Bonneville Shoreline Trail

  • Trail Length: 13.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: More than 350 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy

Legends, along with science, claim that Salt Lake Valley was actually Lake Bonneville many years ago. The lake’s shoreline still indents the foothills perfectly, and the long trail, which hugs the hillside, rests on this very shoreline today.

The Bonneville Shoreline trail has a multitude of trailheads that you can start from today. A particular favorite is the one on the opposite side of the street to the Hogle Zoo, from which you can start hiking north a few miles to where it joins with Dry Creek Canyon.

Waterfall Canyon

  • Trail Length: 2.4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: More than 1,024 feet
  • Difficulty: Difficult

In the Rocky Mountains of Utah, there aren’t many waterfalls you can climb, but the Ogden Waterfall Hike is luckily one of the ones that you can! During the fall, the trail is full of beautiful leaves colored red, orange, and yellow, often giving you the illusion that the mountain is in flames.

The trail’s first portion is fully exposed to the sun and has few shady areas for you to rest in. Once you get to the halfway point, there’s a wide stream that you can’t jump over, but you can always enjoy sitting under the shade of its trees during your tough journey.

The most pleasant reward is when you finally get to the waterfall. Once you get there, you can sit and enjoy the refreshing mist and cool down your body.


Ensign Peak Trail

  • Trail Length: 0.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 380 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy

The name Ensign Peak is reminiscent of the spectacular historic vistas of Salt Lake City. When the Mormons first inhabited the region in 1847, local authorities decided to “make the desert bloom like a rose.”

The picturesque overlook is less than two miles, with a nie, gentle slope, so the hike makes for a fun family trip.

This trail is located in northern Salt Lake Valley, above the State Capitol building. If you want to view the city’s dazzling lights at sunset, this local peak is the place to be. Just don’t go there on days that are too hot because the hot weather can ruin the experience for you.

Bear in mind that this place is steep. It won’t be the best option for those who have knee or back pain. The entire hike is just 0.8 miles, making it perfect for a romantic date at sunset while watching the charming city views!

Because this trail is easy to hike and has historical importance, you’ll find it filled with hikers most of the time. So, if you prefer solitude, it’s better to go there during sunset or sunrise.

Lake Blanche

  • Trail Length: 6.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2,600 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate

There are not enough swear words in the English dictionary that can ease the pain you’ll feel in your legs when you reach the peak. It’s all worth it though, as you’ll get to see three fascinating mountain lakes.

This place is great in the summer, as it’s full of trees that can protect you from getting sunburnt. And whenever the canopy opens, you’ll be able to marvel at the views of Raymond and Gobbler’s Knob.

After enjoying Lake Blanche, Lake Florence, and Lake Lillian, you can reach Sundial Peak for extra rewarding views.

Lake Blanche

Donut Falls

  • Trail Length: 3 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 530 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy

Waterfalls in Utah aren’t a rare sight, but a waterfall that you can see falling in a cave? That’s not that common!

But how did Donut Falls get its name? Thanks to water erosion, a donut-like hole was carved into the cave’s ceiling, causing the water to enter the cave through its roof and pool on its floor.

The sight you see at the end is a wonderful and rare thing. And the best part is that you can enjoy this unique scene with your family as this hike is super easy!

You’ll enjoy this place the most in the summer when you can see bloomed wildflowers and the water flowing at its peak. However, seeing this beautiful waterfall while it’s icy in the winter can also be worth the visit!

The Living Room

  • Trail Length: 2.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 960 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Don’t be fooled by its name. The Living Room trail in Salt Lake City is not as boring as it sounds.

Its homey name comes from the multiple rocks there that look like seats in a living room. You won’t necessarily find them comfortable, but at least the amazing views you’ll see there are much better than the one you see sitting on your actual living room couch!

You’ll find that friends meet often at The Living Room, so expect it to be crowded. But if you don’t mind seeing people there, bring something to eat or drink and gather up with your own friends!

Grandeur Peak

  • Trail Length: 6 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2,400 feet
  • Difficulty: Challenging

Dreaming about unforgettable views from 8,300 feet of Salt Lake Valley and the mountain peaks around it? Then definitely consider paying Grandeur Peak a visit.

As a matter of fact, Grandeur Peak has two trails. But the more famous one is the East Trail from Church Fork, a less steep (but also tough) trail that follows a meandering path up the mountain, allowing you to climb mountain at a gentler pace.

The West Trail, on the other hand, designed for the more daring hiker, follows a steep, straight path up to the peak of the mountain.

Willow Heights

  • Trail Length: 2 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 500 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy

If you’re into warm fall colors, the Willow Heights Trail will, without a doubt, be a great choice for you. No matter how many times you watch the reflections of the trees in the clear water, it never gets boring. And it’s not rare to come across a moose from time to time in the nearby woods.

This hike is perfect if you want to bring your family or if you’re just a solo hiker that likes to explore places with heavenly vibes!

Brighton Lakes

  • Trail Length: 3.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,200 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate

A lot of Utah natives hit the slopes at Brighton Resort on cold days, but don’t miss out on the big opportunity to visit it during hot days too. When walking on this trail, you’ll pass by three out-of-this-world mountain lakes: Lake Catherine, Lake Martha, and Lake Mary. Each of these connects to numerous peaks and backcountry trails.

When you’ve had your fill of Brighton Lakes, take your time to enjoy a stroll on Silver Lake’s road, which circles around the whole lake.

Desolation Overlook

  • Trail Length: 4.4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,440 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Following the Millcreek Canyon’s ridgeline to a beautiful overlook with an amazing view of Salt Lake Valley, the Desolation Overlook trail is a popular destination for summer hikers, as it also offers plenty of shade under its tall pine trees.

On weekends and holidays, you might find this overlook a bit more crowded, but the side trails along it can offer you a much more isolated view of the valley.

You need to pay a fee before you enter, but the fun hike and outstanding views are all worth it. And yes, the place is dog-friendly!

Red Pine Lake

  • Trail Length: 6.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,940 feet
  • Difficulty: Challenging

When it comes to Red Pine Lake, people usually prefer a backpacking trip, but in case you’ve got bad legs or any other injuries, you can always go to Red Pine Lake for a quick day hike.

This hike has everything an experienced hiker looks for: challenge, adventure, and reward! The Red Pine Lake trail features two lakes. They both look fascinating in the summer, but wait to see their charm when fall comes and the leaves turn golden!

Don’t forget, though, that this is a watershed area. So, you’re not allowed to swim in either one of the lakes.

Cecret Lake

  • Trail Length: 1.7 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 460 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy

If you’re a Utah resident, chances are you’ve gone on this hike at least once. This place never gets old, and it contains the best wildflowers in the state. On this trail, you’ll also get to enjoy reading the signs that explain everything about the animal, plant, and geological life.

It’s such a wonderful, easy hike, making it a great family-friendly choice. Watching the sunset with the Sugarloaf view is enough to leave you hooked!

Have more time to spare? You can continue on to Sugarloaf Peak after stopping by the lake for a quick picnic.

Rattlesnake Gulch

  • Trail Length: 3.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 700 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Don’t expect breathtaking views from Rattlesnake Gulch Trail. However, what you can expect is a trail that is excellent for hikers and runners who like to do their thing in quiet areas. You can also enjoy the company of your pup there and possibly even leave them off leash on some days.

You can get the most out of your experience by reaching the final point at sunset. Bring your coffee thermos and enjoy it while resting your body and watching the golden sun cast its final rays over the valley.

rattlesnake gulch

Heughs Canyon

  • Trail Length: 3.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,940 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate

If you want a great trail for hiking or running, Heughs Canyon should definitely be on your list. This place is famous for being dog-friendly, so don’t be shy and bring that furry fellow to the trail.

In addition to the mesmerizing views and huge rock formations, there’s a waterfall in the Heughs Canyon that cools you off on those hotter days.

In the fall, the waterfall ends up slowing down to a faint trickle. So if you’re after waterfalls, try to hike this one in the early summer.

Broads Fork Trail

  • Trail Length: 5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2,100 feet
  • Difficulty: Challenging

There’s so much magical scenery to see along the Broads Fork Trail, including the beautiful natural landscape of Big Cottonwood Canyon

While walking through the trail, you’ll be amazed to see the fascinating meadows filled with wildflowers, as well as a lush pine forest. And let’s not forget to mention the stunning view of Twin Peaks and the high mountain meadows surrounding it.

Most beginner hikers shy away from Broads Fork Trail, but it’s still a great, quiet hike for more experienced hikers.

Twin Peaks

  • Trail Length: 3.2 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 1,100 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate

It’s almost impossible that you’ve never heard of this trail if you’re a resident of Salt Lake City. With its head at The Avenues near downtown, the Twin Peaks trail is a hike that should be on everyone’s bucket list!

If you’re looking to go for a quick hike without having to prepare much, it’s a great option with many astonishing views. And the good news is, you can even take your dog with you!

On the hike up the twin peaks, you’ll enjoy seeing marvellous vistas of City Creek Canyon and Little Black Mountain, the very Twin Peaks themselves.

If the hike isn’t long enough for you, the Twin Peaks trail follows a part of the BST, or the Bonneville Shoreline Trail, so you can just continue onto that to prolong your adventure!

Albion Basin

  • Trail Length: 1 mile
  • Elevation Gain: 100 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy

Time your journey in the right months and you’ll witness some of the finest wildflowers and most stunning mountain views. There, you can please your eyes with sunflowers, Indian paintbrush, lupine, American bistort, and far more! These flowers bloom the best in July.

Go to the Little Cottonwood Canyon and stop at the Albion Grill. Behind it, you’ll find a trail that takes you to another world of wildflowers.

If you want to see Devil’s Castle on your way up the trail, make sure to keep right as you’re hiking. The ideal time to catch an alpenglow on Devil’s Castle is around sunset. However, you can still catch it at sunrise. It’s quiet and can give you a new perspective, so don’t miss out on that! Final tip: watch out for deer and moose!

Stewart Falls Trail

  • Trail Length: 3.4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 646 feet
  • Difficulty: Moderate

This trail is a classic for locals of Utah. If you do this hike in the fall, you’ll get to see the evergreen pine trees and yellow birch tree tunnels.

The Stewart Falls trail is fairly wide and allows many people to walk along it without uncomfortable crowding. Dogs are allowed too, but you have to keep them leashed.

This place has some pretty steep spots, but also has levels that you can walk on without any fear. Your reward at the end is a stunning 200-foot tall waterfall that you can see from above.


Amazed yet? We bet you are! Now, before leaping headfirst into one of these amazing hikes, don’t forget to pack up lots of liquids and prepare your hiking shoes and poles.

Also, always keep an eye open on any potential danger from wildlife on the trails, as you might come across moose, snakes, or even bears. You don’t want to get too close or your fun trip might turn ugly.

Bear in mind that everything we say can change in the future, so always double-check on the weather and conditions of the trail you’re visiting. Try to stick to the local guidelines to prevent any awkward situations or even dangerous ones!

So, this is pretty much it for our list of the most impressive hikes in Salt Lake City. Now, it’s time for you to plan your trip. Pick your favorite place, choose who to go with, possibly a friend or your dog, roll up your sleeves, and start hitting these trails!


Ralph S. is the founder of Silverlight, an avid hiker and trail runner he enjoys spending time outdoors, riding his motorcycle and swimming at the beach when he's not busy replying to customers or developing new Silverlight gear.

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