The Casual Hiker™

Trails, Tips, & Other Topics

Grandeur Peak (via Church Fork) May 3, 2017

Grandeur Peak (via Church Fork)Grandeur Peak2

  1. The trailhead is past the paved Church Fork picnic area. Hike through the picnic area to enjoy the waterfalls.
  2. Pipeline intersects the trail. Go to the left a few steps, then right at the fork. The rest of the trail is obvious.
  3. The first mile is shady and cool with a mountain stream. Then it becomes more exposed and steeper with switch backs.
  4. At saddle, go to the left and along the ridgeline. At this point, you’ll have views of Parley’s Canyon and the north end of the Salt Lake valley. There will be a steep section with minor rock scrambling.
  5. Pass a grove of juniper.
  6. Once passed, go left for final rounding of Grandeur Peak. Again, some minor rock scrambling is involved in a few places.
  7. Ta da. At top, you’ll have a  360° view of Parley’s, Lamb, and East Canyons to the north, Salt Lake valley, and the length of Millcreek. Enjoy a picnic and relax before the return trip along the same path.

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…)


What is a Casual Hiker?

(top to bottom): Blanche Lake, Timpanogos, Dog Lake (Millcreek Canyon), Catherine’s Pass from Albion Basin, American Fork Canyon

(top to bottom): Blanche Lake, Timpanogos, Dog Lake (Millcreek Canyon), Catherine’s Pass from Albion Basin, American Fork Canyon

This blog is for you…

if you’re a casual “athlete” like myself. When I hit the trails, I meander and dawdle, pausing to smell the flowers and photograph the stunning panoramic views, and then reward myself with a granola bar when I reach the mountain top. No one would accuse me of being a hard-charging mountain goat.

When you’re a casual hiker, you set the bar. A plethora of reasons beckon all types of hikers—all ages and fitness levels. You don’t need to be a specimen of perfect health or fitness. I’m certainly not. I have a bad lower back, bum knees, and a foot and ankle that bore the weight of a dropped 800cc motorcycle, which—three surgeries later—can only flex a few degrees.

So don’t be deterred by love handles and aging joints. It’s beautiful outside, and hiking (and snowshoeing when the white stuff hits) is fun. If you’re interested in the exercise angle, you’ll discover hiking to be a lot more interesting than an hour on an elliptical machine. And when you reach the mountain top, you’ve earned bragging rights.

Start out easy. Go at your own pace. Stop and enjoy the scenery. It isn’t a race.

I hope this blog offers something for you: easy hikes, butt-kicking hikes, picnic destinations, panoramic views, wildlife watching, wild flower extravaganzas, waterfalls, and dog-friendly trails.

Explore our beautiful state. You won’t need to travel far.