The Casual Hiker™

Trails, Tips, & Other Topics

Bell Canyon (Lower Falls) February 11, 2013

(top to bottom): Bell Canyon lower reservoir, milkvetch, canyon stream, nearby rocky cliffs, Bell Canyon Lower Falls

(top to bottom): Bell Canyon lower reservoir, milkvetch, canyon stream, nearby rocky cliffs, Bell Canyon Lower Falls

Bell Canyon (Lower Falls)

Bell Canyon (Lower Falls)

The trailhead parking area is conveniently located off Wasatch Blvd. Bell Canyon ultimately leads up to Lone Peak.

  1. Follow the signs and navigate the neighborhood to reach the canyon mouth. The trail quickly steepens. For about 1/4 mile, you’ll clamber over some small boulders too.
  2. The trail evens out to a more modest incline. This section features the rugged beauty of Utah desert scrub: sage, Gambel oak, and rabbit brush.
  3. At a half mile at the lower reservoir, go north to wrap around this little body of water. Follow a wide maintenance dirt road.
  4. About a half mile, watch for the trail sign to turn off the road and head east. After 5 – 10 minutes, the trail becomes forested.
  5. Go over a little wood bridge another 1/4 mile in. After this, the trail forks to the left and stays to the southside of the stream. Meandering trails intersect the main trail. Look for fresh footprints and other tell-tale signs to stay on trail.
  6. About 5 minutes after bridge, go with the steeper, rockier trail (although the other ones look tempting). Stay on this rocky staircase for about .5 mile.
  7. The next trick is to find the waterfall. After you’ve crossed over a wet section (or a spring during the snow run-off), go another 5 minutes. At a split in the trail, go left, leaving the rockier incline.
  8. Follow the sound of rushing water. Careful getting there: the trail is eroded. Grab branches for stability.
  9. Near the waterfalls are great slabs of granite. Enjoy a picnic while taking in the panoramic views of the canyon and Salt Lake valley.
  10. Return the way you came.

Bell Canyon alternatives


Picnic Destinations February 10, 2013

grassy slope skirting Dog Lake in Millcreek Canyon

grassy slope skirting Dog Lake in Millcreek Canyon

Picnics are another way to reward your good work along the trail. Pack a backpack with some sandwiches, granola bars, a juicy apple…and enjoy the fruits of your labor atop a mountain peak or in a wide meadow filled with wild flowers.

If looking for picnic destinations, these are great trails:

  • Burch Hollow
  • Catherine’s Pass (Albion Basin to Brighton)
  • Cecret Lake
  • Dog Lake
  • Elbow Fork to Mt. Aire

(more links to come…)


Panoramic Views

Martha Lake near Catherine's Pass, American Fork Canyon, and and view from Sunset

Martha Lake near Catherine’s Pass, American Fork Canyon, and and view from Sunset

An obvious attraction is the panoramic view afforded by many trails along the way or at the final destination: valley views, stretches of mountain peaks, and glimpses of other geographic wonders, such as the Great Salt Lake.

A hike may be more about the journey than the destination…but what a lovely destination! I’ll go after that carrot anytime.

Consider these trails for views that won’t disappoint:

  • American Fork Canyon
  • Antelope Island
  • Bell Canyon
  • Catherine’s Pass (Albion Basin to Brighton)
  • Cecret Lake
  • City Overlook (via Desolation Trail)
  • City Overlook (via Rattlesnake Gulch and Pipeline Trails)
  • Grandeur Peak (via Church Fork)
  • Lake Blanche (via Mill B South Fork)
  • Mt. Olympus

(more links to come…)


Large Wildlife

Hoping to see a magnificent moose? Or a cliff-climbing mountain goat? The best times to see wildlife are in the early morning or late evening.

female Shira's moose, bison (Antelope Island), and male mule deer

female Shira’s moose, bison (Antelope Island), and male mule deer

To improve your odds, leave the dog home. Tread lightly. Talk quietly. Listen for twigs cracking.

If you’re lucky enough to spy one, be still as possible to not scare them. Deer skitter away with any sudden movement. Moose hold their own ground better. With their bulk and imposing antlers, they can assume more confidence.

However, in the excitement of your Kodak moment, don’t try to get closer. If they spook and charge, guess who’s going to lose. For close-ups, use a zoom lens.

Rocky Mountain goat and black bear

Rocky Mountain goat and black bear

Rocky Mountain goats can be found throughout northern Utah, including the High Uintas, Lone Peak, Mt. Olympus, Twin Peaks and Mt. Timpanogos. wilderness areas. They’re found on the rugged cliff ledges at higher elevations.

If interested in bison and pronghorn antelope, head to Antelope Island. Antelope Island boasts a bison herd of about 500. Pronghorn abound all around. And you might even see bobcat or bighorn sheep.

For better chances of seeing these impressive animals, check out these trails:

  • Antelope Island (bison, pronghorn antelope)
  • Bell Canyon (Rocky Mountain goats)
  • Catherine’s Pass (moose, mule deer)
  • Desolation Lake (moose, mule deer)
  • Scout Falls (moose, mule deer)
  • Timpooneke (moose, mule deer, Rocky Mountain goats)

(more links to come…)



Bell Canyon, Timpooneke (Timpanogos), and Church Fork

Bell Canyon, Timpooneke (Timpanogos), and Church Fork

It may not be Maui, but water always runs downhill on Utah’s splendid mountains. We have torrential drops and delicate-laced falls and rapid white-topped streams working their way to the canyon floors.

In spring and early summer, waterfalls are plentiful and particularly dramatic. So be sure to seek out these attractions earlier in the warm months.

On a warm hike, not only are waterfalls wonderful to encounter, but they are cooling.

Dip your feet.

Take a photo.

Let your dog lap up his fill.

So, despite what TLC says, go chase some waterfalls.

To find waterfalls, go on these trails:

  • Bell Canyon
  • Donut Falls
  • Grandeur Peak (via Church Fork)
  • Scout Falls
  • Waterfall Canyon

(more links to come…)