If you’re an outdoor adventurist then Salt Lake City should be a bucket list destination of yours! The city is surrounded by endless outdoor opportunity with the Wasatch and Oquirrh Mountains looming around it.
You won’t have to go far to reach a trailhead since access to the surrounding wilderness is easily accessible. Views vary all the way from waterfalls and mirrored alpine lakes to giant rock formations and views of the city itself.
This post lists the best Salt Lake City hikes, categorized by day hikes and sunset hike options! It also includes tips for hiking in the area and the best times to visit and explore. Let’s begin!
BEST SALT LAKE CITY HIKES
Salt Lake can get a ton of snowfall usually between November and March, so hiking is best done in spring and fall. The summer months are very hot and a lot of hikes are exposed so it is not recommended to do the longer and difficult hikes during the hottest months of the year.
If you do hike in the summer you’ll want to start early and end before the midday heat, or hike for sunset.
TIPS FOR SALT LAKE CITY HIKES
Each State can differ when it comes to outdoor activities. The weather, terrain, and elevation all play a huge part in how to prepare for your adventure.
In Salt Lake City you’ll be hiking in desert terrain and the elevation difference is to not be taken lightly. It is important to set realistic expectations for yourself!
- Pack your hiking poles especially if you have problems with rocky terrain or with your joints hiking down mountains. The terrain on these trails are rugged and it might be nice to have that extra support.
- Carry plenty of water because you are still hiking in desert terrain! Always carry 2 liters with you at a minimum. This is especially important if you are from out of town and traveling from a lower elevation. Altitude sickness can ruin a hike fast- so hydrate the day before too!
- Be mindful of wildlife because you’re likely to run into some. Moose sightings are very common in these areas and it is important to give them their space. Rattle snakes are also very common so keep your eyes and ears open!
- Research the hike beforehand so you have an idea of the level of difficulty, distance, and what to expect. This will help you know what to pack and how to prepare!
- Check the weather before you go because it can change quickly up in the mountains. It is always best to pack extra layers. You’ll also want to be aware of any current closures or nearby wildfires in the area.
- Track yourself with a GPS! It can be easy to get turned around on the trails in these mountains. There are many little spurs that lead off in all different directions and if you’re not careful you could end up on one!
- Start early unless it is a specific trail good for sunset!
DAY HIKES NEAR SALT LAKE CITY
1. GRANDEUR PEAK
Distance: 6 miles RT (via Church Fork)
Difficulty: Moderate – Difficult
Summiting Grandeur Peak will give you expansive views of the Salt Lake City valley as well as another popular peak- Mount Olympus. There are two ways to hike this summit- the “easier” way from Church Fork in Mill Creek Canyon, or the more difficult route off of Wasatch Boulevard and the Bonneville Shoreline Trail. Either way you’re in for a climb!
2. MOUNT OLYMPUS
Distance: 8 miles RT
One of the absolute “must do” Salt Lake City hikes, Mount Olympus, is not to be underestimated. It is a long and steep hike requiring some rock scrambling at the top in order to reach the summit. If you have time to choose only one difficult day hike- this one should be it!
3. LAKES MARY, MARTHA, AND CATHERINE
Distance: 3.5 miles RT
Difficulty: Easy – Moderate
If you’re wanting to experience as much as you can in a single hike, this one is a great option. You’re able to turn around once you reach the first lake, Lake Mary (which is the most impressive), or hike further to Lakes Martha and Catherine.
It is about 1.1 miles to Lake Mary, and the other two are not much further, totaling 3.5 miles altogether (out and back). Dog Lake is another small lake worth stopping at, only 0.1 miles off the main trail. This hike is truly one of Salt Lake City’s best!
Local Tip: If you’d like to hike further you can take this way to Sunset Peak, totaling just over 6 miles round trip altogether. Check out Sunset Peak under “Sunset Hikes”!
4. CECRET LAKE
Distance: 1.7 miles RT
Pronounced like ‘secret’ (I know, I don’t get it either), is the ‘not so secret’ lake. The hike to Cecret Lake is short and sweet without sacrificing on pristine wilderness views, making it one of the best day hikes near Salt Lake City.
Continuing past the lake, you can connect to Sugarloaf Mountain and Devil’s Castle (listed below) for a longer and more strenuous hike if that is what you’re after!
5. SUGARLOAF MOUNTAIN AND DEVIL’S CASTLE
Distance: 5 miles RT
Difficulty: Moderate – Difficult
If you’re up for a challenge, Sugarloaf Mountain and Devil’s Castle make for one of the best Salt Lake City hikes. You’ll first hike to Cecret Lake, then continue beyond it, climbing the mountains that loom over the lake.
The hike is very steep and could be considered strenuous, but the views at the top are well worth the effort.
6. DONUT FALLS
Distance: 3.5 miles RT
One of the most unique little waterfalls around Salt Lake City is Donut Falls. It received its name for resembling the shape of a donut where the rushing water carved out the rock. It isn’t easy to spot either- it’s tucked up in the middle of a larger water fall that you have to climb up, then crawl into the small cave Donut Falls pours into. How exciting!
7. LAKE BLANCHE
Distance: 7 miles RT
Expect this one to be an all day adventure! The hike to Lake Blanche is a continuous climb leaving you breathless if you’re not use to the elevation change. It is a great day hike near Salt Lake City, though, and worth every step.
If visiting during fall you can expect some beautiful fall colors along the trail. There are two other small alpine lakes just beyond Lake Blanche that are rarely mentioned, but worth venturing over to especially if there is a crowd!
SUNSET HIKES NEAR SALT LAKE CITY
8. AVENUE TWIN PEAKS
Distance: 3.6 miles RT
Difficulty: Easy – Moderate
Accessed through a neighborhood just outside of downtown Salt Lake City, Avenue Twin Peaks is one of the best sunset hike options in the area. The trail is easy to follow but you’ll most likely be sharing it with mountain bikers before the sun goes down.
You’ll have your option between two peaks to watch the sunset on, aka ‘Twin Peaks’. They look exactly the same!
9. ENSIGN PEAK
Distance: 0.8 mile
Near downtown Salt Lake City, Ensign Peak is a great option if you’re already out doing some sight seeing. The peak is very close to downtown and is just a short walk up, providing views across the city below. It technically isn’t considered a hike, but still worth mentioning and visiting!
10. SUNSET PEAK
Distance: 4.1 miles RT
If you’re brave enough to hike to this point for and then back in the dark, Sunset Peak is a great sunset hike option. It is located a little further from Salt Lake City than the others and is a tad bit longer in length, but you get a direct view of 3 alpine lakes in the distance- Lake Mary, Martha, and Catherine.
Local Tip: You can also access Sunset Peak from the Brighton Ski Resort area, connecting from lakes Mary, Martha, and Catherine.
11. THE LIVING ROOM
Distance: 2.3 miles RT
Last but not least, one of the most popular sunset hikes near Salt Lake City- The Living Room. It was named appropriately due to make-shift living room furniture built out of the loose rock. A big thank you to whomever climbed up there and built ‘the living room’! It is a cool place to sit back, relax, and watch the sun set over the valley.
Pro Tip: Download the Gaia App to track yourself, look up weather reports, and track any wildfires in the area while you’re out!
FINAL THOUGHTS ON SALT LAKE CITY HIKES
There you have it, the best hikes around Salt Lake City! The list is not all inclusive- there are endless trails! There is so much to explore and I can’t see it ever getting old. If you want to see waterfalls, alpine lakes, city views, or epic rolling mountain backdrops, you can.
I will say the terrain for the most part is your typical desert terrain- rocky, dusty, and dry. Most of the hikes are also very steep even when rated easy. Show up prepared and know your limits because this wilderness is not to be underestimated!
More in Utah:
- Hiking and Camping at Lower Calf Creek Falls, Utah
- The Most Epic Utah Road Trip Itinerary for 7-10 Days
- Hike to Observation Point in Zion National Park
- Utah Canyoneering Tour near Zion National Park
- Complete Hole in the Rock Road Hiking and Camping Guide
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