The Casual Hiker™

Trails, Tips, & Other Topics

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…)

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Wild Flowers & Fall Colors

autumn colors in American Fork Canyon

autumn colors in American Fork Canyon

While panoramic views are breathtaking, I take a lot of joy in the small details: flowers, twittering birds, and the contrasting colors of rock. This explains why I’m a meanderer. Half the time, I have to remind myself to stop looking down to take in the bigger picture.

Indian paintbrush and lupine in Albion Basin

Indian paintbrush and lupine in Albion Basin

Wild flowers are most abundant along sun-drenched slopes and open meadows. Considering you’re in Utah, you’ll have lots of opportunity to enjoy their array of colors.

Asking which trails have the best wild flowers or fall colors is comparable to asking someone to pick their favorite child. Wild flowers, notably in late spring through summer, are amazing on any of the alpine mountain trails. Look for colorful and abundant asters, wild rose, cardinal flower, columbine, larkspur, bee plant, fireweed, gentian, lupine, phlox, paintbrush, and penstemon.  This list doesn’t even begin to suggest the breath of flowers to be found on the mountains, let alone more arid terrain. This guide offers photographs of some of the common flowers to be found.

Come autumn, the fall colors are amazing on any mountain trail too. I particularly like the golden quaking aspens and cottonwoods and red-orange mountain maples set off by the evergreens.

For wild flowers, check out the following trails:

  • Catherine’s Pass (Albion Basin to Brighton)
  • Desolation Lake (via Big Water Trail)
  • Dog Lake
  • Elbow Fork to Lamb’s Canyon
  • Lake Blanche (via Mill B South Fork)
  • Scout Falls

(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…)