The state of Utah is the perfect location for long family hiking trips. Utah hiking has a lot of diversity. In the northern part of the country, you have beautiful trails filled with tall mountains and aspen trees — think Colorado in terms of natural brilliance.
But, if you travel further south, then you will experience a dramatic shift in scenery. Gone are the snow-covered mountains, which have become replaced by red rocks and deserts. In this part of the state, the landscape more closely resembles the American southwest.
As you can guess, Utah hiking offers a lot for hiking enthusiasts — far more than you can squeeze into a small hiking trip. But how safe are the trails in Utah? If you have kids, then is it safe taking them on the hiking paths? Or will they get overwhelmed by tough terrain and weather?
While there is no shortage of advanced trails in Utah, there are also plenty of family-friendly ones you can choose from too. In this article, we provide you with some of the best hikes in Utah — ones that will appeal to the whole family and not just the hiking enthusiast. But first, let us look at how we rank the locations.
How We Choose The Utah Hiking Locations on This List
We select the best hikes in Utah on this list by looking at trails that appeal specifically to families and children. This criterion means that the trails are not too difficult to navigate, and you can enjoy them all within a day or two. When ranking the locations, we look at three distinct factors.
Specifically, we look at factors like the difficulty of the trail, activities available, and the overall beauty of the location. For each of these factors, we ask a series of questions that help us determine the strengths and weaknesses of each trail.
We then assign the location a score out of five stars, so you can have a quick reference when checking out the sites. Here are some of the questions we ask:
The difficulty of the Trail — How hard is the trail to hike? Can you complete the path within a day? Can a small child enjoy the trail? Is the trail dangerous in any way?
Activities Available — Are there any activities available besides hiking? Can you go fishing? Or are there areas to picnic, grill, or eat?
Overall Beauty — How scenic is the Utah hiking trail? How does it compare to the other locations found of the list? How unique is the scenery of Utah?
The Six Best Utah Hiking Trips for Families
Keep in mind that we believe all the locations on this list offer great hiking and views for whoever decides to explore them. However, we do think that some of the places might appeal more to families than season hikers. Still, you probably cannot go wrong choosing any locations on this list.
1) Donut Falls Trail
The trail is relatively short and easy, making it accessible for hikers of all ages and skill levels. The trail is just under 2 miles round-trip and has a gentle incline, which makes it a great option for families with young children or beginners.
It leads to a unique waterfall that flows through a hole in a rock formation that looks like a donut. This feature is a highlight of the hike and attracts many visitors who want to see the natural wonder for themselves. The waterfall itself is also beautiful, with water cascading down a series of rocks into a clear pool at the base.
The area around the falls is a fun place for kids and adults to explore. There are plenty of rocks to climb on and small streams to play in, making it a great spot for a picnic or a break before heading back down the trail.
The Trail is located in Big Cottonwood Canyon, which is known for its stunning scenery. The canyon is surrounded by towering peaks and lush forests, and the drive up to the trailhead offers panoramic views of the area.
Overall, the Donut Falls Trail is a great option for anyone looking for a short, easy hike with a unique natural feature and beautiful scenery. Its accessibility and family-friendly nature makes it a popular destination for visitors to Utah.
2) The Narrows in Zion National Park
The Narrows is one of the most unique hikes in the world, offering an experience unlike any other. The trail involves hiking in a river, through a slot canyon that is up to 2,000 feet deep and only 20 to 30 feet wide in some places. The towering canyon walls and the flowing river create a surreal and magical atmosphere that attracts many hikers.
The hike is accessible to a wide range of fitness levels and ages. The Narrows can be hiked for a few hours or a full day, depending on the hiker’s preference. The hike can be tailored to the level of experience and physical ability of each individual, making it an excellent opportunity for families and people of all ages to experience the natural beauty of Zion National Park.
The Narrows offers a unique opportunity for hikers to connect with nature. The hike involves walking in the river, feeling the water rush around your feet, and being surrounded by the towering canyon walls. This immersive experience allows hikers to feel a sense of tranquility and awe as they explore the natural wonder.
It provides excellent photo opportunities. The combination of the river, the towering canyon walls, and the stunning colors of the rocks create a picturesque setting that is perfect for capturing unforgettable moments.
The Narrows is a highly regulated hike, with a permit system in place to manage the number of hikers on the trail. This ensures that the natural environment is protected and preserved for future generations to enjoy.
3) Delicate Arch in Arches National Park
Delicate Arch is an iconic symbol of Utah and is recognized all over the world. The arch is a breathtaking sight, towering 52 feet above the surrounding desert landscape. The hike to Delicate Arch provides hikers with an up-close and personal experience of this stunning natural wonder.
The hike to Delicate Arch is a moderate-level hike that is accessible to most hikers, including families with children. The trail is well-maintained and provides opportunities to take breaks and rest, making it a manageable hike for people of all ages.
It offers stunning views of the surrounding desert landscape. As hikers approach the arch, they will see panoramic views of the La Sal Mountains and the red rock formations that make up Arches National Park. These views are truly breathtaking and create a sense of awe and wonder.
Seeing Delicate Arch during sunset or sunrise is an unforgettable experience. The arch glows a fiery red color during these times, creating a stunning contrast against the blue sky. The hike to Delicate Arch during sunset or sunrise is a truly magical experience that should not be missed.
Overall, the hike to Delicate Arch in Arches National Park is a must-do for its iconic status, accessibility, stunning views, educational opportunities, and unforgettable sunset or sunrise experience. It is an essential part of any visit to Arches National Park and is sure to create lasting memories for hikers of all ages.
4) Calf Creek Falls in Grand Staircase – Escalante National Monument
5) Bryce Canyon Rim Trail in Bryce Canyon National Park
The trail offers stunning views of Bryce Canyon’s unique geological formations, including hoodoos, spires, and other rock formations. The trail takes hikers along the rim of the canyon, providing breathtaking panoramic views of the canyon below.
The hike is a moderate-level hike that is accessible to most hikers, including families with children. The trail is well-maintained and provides opportunities to take breaks and rest, making it a manageable hike for people of all ages.
It is a great opportunity for hikers to learn about the geological features of the park. Along the way, there are several interpretive signs that explain the unique rock formations and the processes that created them.
The hike is a great way to experience the beauty and tranquility of Bryce Canyon National Park. The trail takes hikers through a diverse landscape of red rock formations, forests, and meadows, providing a glimpse into the natural wonders of this unique area.
This trail is open year-round and offers a different experience in each season. In the winter, the trail is covered in snow and provides a unique winter wonderland experience. In the spring and fall, the trail is filled with vibrant colors as the plants and trees come to life. And in the summer, the trail provides a refreshing escape from the heat.
6) Fisher Towers near Moab
The Fisher Towers are a unique rock formation that towers above the surrounding landscape, providing breathtaking views of the Colorado River and the surrounding red rock formations.
The hike is a moderate-level hike accessible to most hikers, including families with children. The trail is well-maintained and provides opportunities to take breaks and rest, making it a manageable hike for people of all ages.
It offers opportunities for hikers to experience a variety of landscapes, from narrow canyons to open desert vistas. The trail takes hikers through a diverse landscape of red rock formations, canyons, and lush vegetation, providing a glimpse into the natural wonders of this unique area.
The hike offers opportunities for hikers to see various wildlife, including birds, lizards, and other desert animals.
This hike is a great way to experience the beauty and tranquility of the Moab area. The trail takes hikers away from the crowds of the more popular hikes in the area and offers a peaceful escape into nature.
Guide for Navigating Utah Hiking Trails
If you never hiked a trail before, then there are some essential things you should know before bringing your family to one of Utah’s many national parks. Luckily we included some important take waypoint in this hiker’s guide section. Here are some vital tips you should keep in mind before hiking.
Pack and Dress Accordingly
Without the proper trail gear, an otherwise fun hiking experience can turn uncomfortable at best and downright dangerous at best. As such, it is vital that you bring such essential equipment. First and foremost you should bring water, at least two quarts per person and a comfortable pair of shoes.
Similarly, so areas of Utah experience random or erratic rainfall. As such, some ziplocked plastic bag can help keep your phone and wallet dry in case of an emergency. Similarly, so areas can experience sweltering heat in the summer, so bring sunscreen, even if you find you do not usually need it.
Do Not Overestimate Yourself
If you are a beginner or hiking with family and friends, then do not plan too ambitious of a hiking trip. A lot of the harder trails in Utah offer little shade from the sun and steep mountainous climbs. Discuss how long you would like to hike with your family, then pick a path that corresponds roughly in difficulties.
There are also plenty of trails that offer easy-to-reach, family friendly views. So visit the park center when you reach a national park and ask the staff which paths they recommend. Do not be nervous; it is their job to help you navigate the park.
Be Aware that There Might Be Crowds
Hiking is becoming a much more popular activity, and as a result, there might be more crowds on the trails then you are used to dealing with while hiking. If you do not mind sharing then the path, then this issue is not a big deal. But if you want to avoid some crowds, then there are some tips you can follow that will help you.
First, try and come during non-peak hours when the parks just open. Noon is usually the most popular time for people to visit. So, try coming either early in the morning or after two PM. If you want to catch a sunrise or a sunset on the trail, then you can probably expect some company too.
We hope this guide helped you find some of the best hikes in Utah for your family. Whether you camp or walk the trail for the day, make sure you leave the environment the same as when you found it. Set a good example for your family and others and pick up your trash and belongs. Enjoy Utah Hiking!
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