best autumn hikes in the wasatch
The declining temperatures in Utah can only mean one thing: autumn is on the way. As the air temperatures drop, nature’s color palette will get warmer with vibrantly saturated displays of red, orange and golden foliage throughout the Wasatch. There may never be a better time to hit the trails for some hiking, trail running and photography while enjoying the cool crisp air and building fitness for the ski season. So, without further ado, here are a few of my favorite fall hikes in the Wasatch.
Donut Falls Trail
Located in Big Cottonwood Canyon, this trail is a 1.5 mile out-and-back that follows a stream to the Donut Falls. If you want to see more moose and fewer humans, it’s best to go in the early morning.
Cecret Lake Trail
Situated above the town of Alta, Cecret Lake is an incredibly beautiful 1.7 mile out-and-back hike with a mellow gradient. Expect to see moose and deer in the evenings with a beautiful reflection on the lake as the winds calm and the water flattens.
Desolation Trail to Salt Lake Overlook
This gem of a trail will wind you through wooded switchbacks in Mill Creek Canyon so you can bask in the glorious fall foliage. In the later afternoons, the Sunset view from the Salt Lake Overlook is spectacular.
Lake Blanche Trail
Perhaps my favorite moderate hike in all of the Wasatch is the trail to Lake Blanche. The 7-mile out-and-back trail has a steady gradient with a huge reward: a beautiful view of Lake Blanche overshadowed by Sundial Peak. Moose often hang out near the trail in the afternoons and you can also see Lake Lillian and Lake Florence at the top.
Mount Olympus Trail
Rising 4100 feet in the first 3.5 miles, this trail will certainly test your legs and lungs. One of my favorite trails for a hard workout, the trees along this trail really light up in the fall. The best part may be the rock scramble to the peak, but the saddle offers an excellent view for those not willing to experience a bit of mild exposure.
Utah Valley spends the morning in the shadow of the undisputed sovereign of the central Wasatch: Mount Timpanogos. The Timpooneke Trail will take you across streams, through meadows, and over the ridge to the top of this impressive peak towering 7,000 feet above the valley floor. World class scenery aside, you can also expect to see deer, moose and mountain goats. The gradient is mostly moderate, but the length can prove to take its toll on the legs. A total of 14 miles and 4600’ of vert make this trail very trail runner friendly.
Regardless of your time availability or fitness level, you will surely find the true beauty of autumn in any of these trails. Just remember to bring adequate food and water, respect the animals, and don’t litter.
Check out more adventures from Mark LeBlanc by following him on Instagram: @markcleblanc