With so many hikes in Utah to choose from, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. From high-altitude mountain peaks to deep basin hiking through Colorado River-carved gorges, Utah has some of the best hiking trails in the Southwestern United States.
I grew up hiking in Utah on extended family trips and still take leisure road trips to my neighboring state whenever I get the chance. I’ve hiked some of the best trails in the state and am here to help you choose from the top 31 hikes in Utah.
Table of Contents
- 31 Best Hikes In Utah
- The Zion Narrows
- Delicate Arch
- Angels Landing
- Mill Creek Trail
- Navajo Loop and Queens Garden Trail
- Emerald Pools Trail
- Devils Garden
- The Watchman Trail
- Lake Blanche Trail
- Bell Canyon Trail to Lower Falls
- Warner Lake to Oowah Lake
- Sunset Point to Sunrise Point
- Lower Calf Creek Falls
- Lake Mary Trail
- Mesa Arch Trail
- Donut Falls Trail
- Fairyland Loop Trail
- Double O Arch Trail
- Cecret Lake Trail
- Mount Olympus Trail
- Red Pine Lake Trail
- Hickman Bridge Trail
- Peek-A-Boo Loop Trail
- Bloods Lake Trail
- Zebra and Tunnel Slots
- Little Wild Horse Canyon
- Willis Creek Trail
- The Living Room
- Grandeur Peak
- Willow Heights Lake
- Butler Fork
- FAQs About Best Hikes in Utah
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31 Best Hikes In Utah
The Zion Narrows
Meander through the Virgin River in this Zion National Park slot canyon.
The Narrows takes trekkers on a one-of-a-kind hike through a semi-slot canyon in Zion National Park, and is arguably the most popular hike in Utah. The waist-high water hike through the Narrows is especially refreshing in the summer when southern desert temps reach 100+ degrees.
The Narrows is one of the last stops on the Zion Shuttle and as one of the top trails in Zion National Park, the canyon fills up fast. Be sure to get on the first shuttle of the day to ensure a less-crowded experience (no cars are allowed past the visitor center in the park).
👉 My Favorite Gear: I’ve done this hike several times, each time in my Teva Tirra Sandals. These sandals are completely waterproof and are even a great option for other non-water-based hikes in Utah.
Wake up early to catch the sunrise illuminate the most famous arch in the state of Utah.
Hike under the moon to Utah’s quintessential sandstone arch. Also pictured on the Utah license plate, Delicate Arch is a Southwestern icon and should not be missed when visiting Arches National Park.
One of the best ways to view the Delicate Arch is when soft morning hues caress the top of the arch and penetrate through the center. Make sure you bring your headlamp so you can start the hike in the dark before sunrise. This is also one of the least crowded times to view Delicate Arch.
👉 Pro Tip: If entering Arches National Park before sunrise, no employees will be at the entrance station yet. You’re in the green to head into the park without a pass, so long as you pay on the way out!
Bestride narrow ridges on one of the highest points in Zion National Park.
Another top hike in Zion National Park, Angels Landing is the postcard hike of the national park. Straddle thin rock ledges as you make your way up one of the higher points in the park.
Angels Landing provides incredible views of the valley floor below and although the hike isn’t necessarily professional-rated, the steep grade can be strenuous for novice hikers. Additionally, hikers afraid of heights or who are prone to vertigo should not attempt this hike due to the thin ledge sections.
Permits for Angels Landing are public each March and fill up quickly. Try to snag one as early as possible, otherwise, you will need to constantly refresh Recreation.gov for a cancellation permit.
Mill Creek Trail
Hike to one of the most lowkey desert waterfalls in Moab.
Mill Creek Trail is one of my personal favorite hikes in Utah. Located in Moab at the intersection of the red sandstone desert and high-altitude mountain ecosystems, Mill Creek is a fun way to get some morning exercise in.
With a sandy trail, rock hopping, and various creek crossings involved, Mill Creek keeps you literally on your toes. The end goal is a high viewpoint of a gaping waterfall and a swimmable watering hole.
From protruding canyon walls, cactus gardens, and soft, silty sand that beckons hikers to go barefooted, Mill Creek is easily one of the best things to do in Moab.
Get well acquainted with the geologic landscape of Bryce Canyon National Park on this loop trail through the canyon floor.
The Navajo and Queens Garden Loop Trail is one of the best ways to experience the beauty of Bryce Canyon National Park. This hike takes trekkers ground-level through the iconic erect rock formations known as hoodoos, the hallmark feature of Bryce Canyon.
This hike is busy throughout the entire year but I highly recommend hiking through Queens Garden during the winter when snow sits perfectly atop the golden hoodoos, completely transforming the desert landscape into a winter wonderland with a twist.
Emerald Pools Trail
Take the whole family on an easy trail to natural Zion pools.
This Zion Canyon hike is one of the easier and family-friendly hikes in Zion National Park. Get off on the 5th shuttle stop at the Zion Lodge to begin your ascent just across the road, paralleling the Virgin River.
Pass a sandstone amphitheater and lush vegetation throughout the trail on your way to the lower, middle, and upper Emerald Pools.
Generally considered an easy hike, I recommend hiking the Emerald Pools Trail on your first day in the park to get acquainted with the area before you spend the whole next day disappearing deep into The Narrows gorge.
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Pass several natural arches on this Arches National Park hike.
With so many hikes to choose from in Arches National Park, it can be overwhelming to decide which to do. Devils Garden is a good option for national park hikers who want more of a distance challenge.
At nearly 8 miles round trip, the Devils Garden hike brings outdoor enthusiasts to top sites in Arches National Park – passing 8 arches, desert flora, and peak desert scenery along the way. Keep an eye out for Landscape Arch, one of the longest natural arches in the park.
The Watchman Trail
View Zion from new heights on this easy national park lookout.
The Watchman Trail is one of the easier trails in Zion National Park. Accessed straight from the visitor center, a short but steep hike takes trekkers to a grand view of the southern edge of the national park.
This is a popular route for trail running, so don’t forget to bring your trail runners. Be sure to also look out for popular wildlife like bighorn sheep on the trail, as the steep rocky terrain is prime habitat for the majestic horned creatures.
One of the best times to visit Utah for the national parks is in the fall or spring when the weather is the most agreeable and the roads aren’t snowed over.
Lake Blanche Trail
Discover the wonder of alpine lakes in northern Utah.
If you’ve never hiked to an alpine lake before, be warned: you may become addicted. Enjoy the beauty of glass reflection surrounded by granitic peaks and a lush blooming meadow at Lake Blanche.
This classic hike is located in the Twin Peaks Wilderness and the sweeping views of the quartzite Wasatch Mountains make this hike one of the best in Utah. The steep trail can become quite strenuous in the summer, so be sure to bring plenty of water or a water filter to pump and filter the lake water.
Bell Canyon Trail to Lower Falls
A short drive from the big city brings hopeful hikers to a trail with both an alpine lake and a waterfall.
This scenic hike passes both an alpine lake and a towering waterfall in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest. Starting from the Granite Trailhead, hike into the canyon past Bell Canyon Reservoir, staying left if you want to visit the waterfall.
Due to its proximity to Salt Lake City, the Bell Canyon Trail to Lower Falls receives a fair amount of weekend hikers. Most, however, hike only to the lake, so visiting the falls is guaranteed to be less crowded.
👉 Pro Tip: No dogs are allowed on this trail so you’ll have to leave Fido in the hotel or with plenty of water in the motorhome.
Warner Lake to Oowah Lake
Hike away from the tourist crowds in the La Sal Mountains in eastern Utah.
One of my favorite hikes in the La Sal Mountains of Moab, the Warner Lake to Oowah Lake trail is a short yet less-traveled mountain hike. Wind your way through towering aspens on this remote trail away from noise pollution, save for chickadee calls.
This trail is open to hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians, so be sure to yield when necessary: bikers yield to hikers and equestrians, and hikers yield to equestrian users.
🛎️ Need a Hotel? Here are the top Moab accommodations.
Sunset Point to Sunrise Point
Hike this scenic introductory trail in Bryce Canyon National Park.
Welcome to one of the best hikes in Bryce Canyon National Park. At just over 1 mile, this is one of the shortest hikes in Bryce Canyon and appeals to hikers of all fitness levels.
If you only have time for one hike while visiting Bryce Canyon, the hoodoo-dense Sunset Point to Sunrise Point should be your go-to. This hike is technically a section of the Canyon Rim Trail, a 5.5-mile trail if completed in its entirety. Whichever section of the trail you choose to wander down will shortly prove itself to be exceptional.
Lower Calf Creek Falls
A historically-rich waterfall hike in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
Southern Utah boasts copious amounts of national parks and monuments, including Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante. Lower Calf Creek Falls is among the top desert hikes in Escalante, a historically-rich area dense with archaeological sites.
Hike between Navajo Sandstone cliffs, past beaver dams, and rock art sites on your way to the waterfall pools, the main attraction of the hike. I recommend spending the night at the Calf Creek Campground and exploring the monument at a relaxed pace in the morning.
📚 Related Reading: Best Utah Hot Springs
Lake Mary Trail
Go for a cooling swim in the summer or cross-country ski in the winter at this northern Utah lake.
This northern Utah hike brings hikers to the perfect alpine lake for fishing or swimming in the summer months. Located just outside of Salt Lake City, the Lake Mary Trail is also a hotspot for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing excursions in the winter.
The trail is fairly flat until the end, where a steady but steep climb is required to reach the glistening body of water. The Lake Mary Trail is also notorious for being easy to lose, so pay close attention to the trail, look for carines, and retrace your steps if need be.
Mesa Arch Trail
A short hike in Canyonlands National Park that showcases prime desert scenery.
Utah has a seemingly endless supply of arches. Canyonlands National Park has many great backcountry hiking trails, like Mesa Arch Trail. At only 0.6 miles roundtrip, this is one of the best introductory hikes of the national park.
The 27-foot-long Mesa Arch is gracefully perched on the edge of a mesa top with views of the La Sal mountains in the background through the arch. I recommend waiting for the glow of the sunrise to hit the tower arch while simultaneously illuminating the gorged valley below.
Donut Falls Trail
Witness a waterfall spilling out of a donut hole rock formation on one of the best hikes in the Wasatch Mountain range.
There’s certainly no shortage of hiking trails near Salt Lake City. Located in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, Donut Falls Trail takes hikers to one of the most unique waterfalls in the state.
After a short but wet and rocky climb, hikers arrive at the waterfall, only viewable via a donut hole rock formation through which the water seeps. The donut hole cave has a small pool at the base of the waterfall, which makes for a great summer swim.
Fairyland Loop Trail
Weave your way through towering canyon walls at one of the best hikes in Utah.
Another popular Bryce Canyon National Park trail, Fairyland Loop Trail is for hikers who like a challenge. At 8 miles roundtrip, this is one of the longer Bryce Canyon hikes and showcases the best geologic features of the park.
Be sure to bring plenty of water. I always carry 1 or 2 1.5-liter water bottles, a sun hat, and zinc sunscreen when hiking in the Utah desert. While especially true in the summer, I bring lots of water regardless of which of Utah’s travel seasons I’m visiting during.
Double O Arch Trail
View a circular natural arch on one of the best Utah hikes.
In a national park with over 2,000 arches, it’s near impossible to hit a hiking trail in Arches without discovering one of the natural anomalies.
Witness one of the most complete natural arches in Utah. Because Arches National Park is so popular, I recommend hiking this 4-mile trail in the winter when crowds are extremely minimized due to the freezing temps and potentially icy roads.
👉 Pro Tip: You will likely need microspikes if hiking the Double O Arch Trail in the winter. I’ve had my pair of Kahtoola Microspikes for 3 years now and cannot recommend them enough.
Cecret Lake Trail
A quick day hike high in the Wasatch Mountains to a crystal clear alpine lake.
The short Cecret Lake Trail is a must if visiting Salt Lake City for an extended period. This lake trail is a staple in the Wasatch Mountain range and starts at a high elevation of 9,000 feet. Bring plenty of water to avoid a headache if you’re not used to those heights.
The beautiful alpine lake is best visited in the summer when the tall grass sways unapologetically in the wind and lucky hikers can potentially view grazing wildlife.
Mount Olympus Trail
A challenging hike suited for experienced mountain climbers in the Wasatch Mountains.
There’s no greater feeling than summiting a mountain after a grueling climb. This difficult hike is reserved for intrepid travelers and entails a class 3 scramble 4,000 feet to the top.
Although this hike is on the more technical side, the 360-degree views of the Wasatch Mountains and surrounding city below make it worth the challenging climb.
Only experienced winter mountaineers should attempt this mountain climb with the proper winter gear like crampons and an ice axe. Otherwise, novice hikers should wait until the summer thaw to ensure utmost safety.
Red Pine Lake Trail
A quiet lake trail off the beaten path provides picturesque backcountry campsites.
This Lone Peak Wilderness trail ends at a strikingly blue alpine lake, a hotspot to backpack and camp. Most hikers stop at Red Pine Lake but more daring adventurers can trek past the lake to Upper Red Pine Lake, Pfeifferhorn Peak, or White Baldy Mountain.
The Red Pine Lake Trail is most popular in the summer months but does receive a few northern Utah locals in the winter who are keen on snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. The only downside of the hike is its prohibition of pets, for wildlife safety reasons.
Hickman Bridge Trail
A Capitol Reef National Park trek with dense archaeological sites along the way.
Hickman Bridge Trail is situated in Utah’s lesser-known national park, Capitol Reef. You are almost guaranteed to have the trail to yourself, especially in the off-season months of October-May.
You may want to pick up an informational trail brochure at the trailhead that clues hikers in on 17 scenic spots along the way, like the Freemont pit houses and granary.
👉 My Favorite Gear: There are quite a few rock art sites in Capitol Reef National Park, some of which are 30 feet or higher on the sandstone walls. I always bring my professional-grade binoculars with me to national parks for this reason.
Peek-A-Boo Loop Trail
Discover a lesser-known Bryce Canyon trail with hidden gems around every corner.
Starting at Bryce Point, this trail quickly descends to the Bryce Canyon floor. A network of trails winds through ravines and drainage basins, with abrupt elevation changes and surprise geologic formations around most corners.
Peek-A-Boo Trail is one of the farthest trailheads from the visitor center and receives the fewest hikers, a major plus if visiting the crowded national park during the summer or on a weekend.
Bloods Lake Trail
Challenge yourself to swing on the lake rope and plummet straight down into icy alpine waters.
Enjoy this central Wasatch Mountain alpine lake trail in the summertime when swimming is more than appealing. Easily accessible from Salt Lake City, Park City, and Midway, Bloods Lake Trail also boasts a swinging rope on the west side of the lake for hikers who aren’t afraid to shock their nervous system with often below-freezing water.
High-altitude meadow picnics are the biggest draw of the area but keep in mind that dogs aren’t allowed within 100 feet of the lake.
Zebra and Tunnel Slots
Perhaps the most photographed slot canyons in Utah, these slots are well worth the trip to the south.
Slot canyons are one of the highlights of any Utah trip. Try to fit in at least one when exploring the Southwestern desert playground.
Zebra and Tunnel Slots are suited for novice slot canyon goers but are as scenic and narrow as some of the harder slots. The pink and white stripes of the Zebra Slot are one of the most photogenic and the tunnel portion of the slot definitely gets the heart racing.
The best time to experience these iconic slots is in the fall and spring when summer monsoons are out of the question.
Little Wild Horse Canyon
Slip through these impossibly narrow slot canyons before you indulge in a big meal.
This classic slot canyon is situated near Goblin Valley in southwestern Utah, only an hour outside of Capitol Reef National Park. The long stretch of narrow slot canyons makes Little Wild Horse Canyon one of the top hikes in southern Utah, as hikers have to squeeze sideways through some of the tight areas.
There are turn-around points all throughout the trail but more daring hikers can embark on the loop trail to Bell Canyon from Little Wild Horse Canyon, an 8-mile round-trip adventure.
Willis Creek Trail
An easy, beginner-level slot that’s suited for novice hikers.
Another top slot canyon just outside of Zion Canyon, Willis Creek Trail is one of the coolest hikes in Utah. This slot requires non-technical skills and is suited for the whole family.
Hikers don’t truly appreciate Navajo Sandstone until its walls start to close in on them, as is the case at Willis Creek slot canyon. This hike follows Willis Creek and is a refreshing site in the summertime, provided monsoons aren’t in the forecast.
The Living Room
View whimsical rock formations atop an SLC viewpoint.
Named for the lounge chair-like rock formations at the summit, The Living Room hike is one of the more popular treks in Salt Lake City. Embark on a short hike throughout the northern Utah foothills to one of the best viewpoints of SLC below.
This short hike is prone to wildlife such as elk, coyotes, and mountain lions. Be sure to maintain a safe distance from the wildlife and never feed them.
Challenge yourself in a steep elevation gain just outside of Utah’s capital city.
The short hike to Grandeur Peak is a great way to get whipped into shape just outside of the big city. The trail climbs 2,365 feet in less than 3 miles on the ascent, a challenging feat for unconditioned hikers.
If hiking in the winter, be prepared with the necessary winter hiking gear. The trail requires more attentive hiking at this time but receives far fewer hikers, making it a prime time to hike.
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Willow Heights Lake
Don’t forget to bring your picnic basket on this quick SLC alpine lake hike.
Willow Heights Lake is an ideal place to head for a picnic outside of Salt Lake City. The hike is short but steep, so take your time to avoid a good sweat.
A quiet hike through an aspen forest leads hikers to an alpine lake and a surrounding open meadow. This is a prime area for grazing elk and deer, so please leave the speaker at home to not cause a wildlife disturbance.
🛏️ Looking for affordable accommodation? View top Salt Lake City hostels here.
Choose from a multitude of hiking trails on this northern Utah hiking trail.
Hikers can choose from many different hiking trails and lakes from the Butler Fork trailhead. I recommend hiking this trail in the fall when the autumn colors are in their full transformative swing, painting the landscape with harvest hues.
With 1,610 feet of elevation gain, Butler Fork is no easy feat but the sweeping canyon views make it an amazing hike.
FAQs About Best Hikes in Utah
What hikes in Utah are good for kids?
What are the best hikes in Utah?
What should I pack for hiking in Utah?
Because Utah is such a hot desert state, you should pack sun protective sun gear like a sun hat, sunscreen, a long sleeve shirt, a 1.5-liter water bottle, and polarized sunglasses. For more, see our full packing checklist for Utah.
What season is best for hiking in Utah?
Fall is best for hiking in Utah. Late fall experiences the best temperatures for hiking and there’s no danger of snow or ice.
You’ve made it to the end of my ultimate hikes in Utah guide! It’s time to hit the trails and start exploring the incredible desert landscape. Next up, check out my guide to the best things to do and see in Utah.
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