Take hiking to a new level! Three fall hikes that are a step above the rest.
Studio 5 Contributor, Sheryl McGlochlin, says now is the time and Utah is
the place to enjoy high altitude hikes!
Bald Mountain, Uintas – 90-minute drive east of Salt Lake City in
Mountain Range. Enjoy a three mile round trip hike with 1179 ft. elevation
gain. Watch for wildflowers, high-alpine vegetation, and exceptional views
in all directions of the Uintas from the summit. Trailhead starts at 10,764
ft. and climbs to nearly 12,000 ft. above sea level! Total hiking time up
and back down is about 1.5 – 3 hours. This is one of the easiest but
rugged, family-friendly, super-high altitude hikes in Utah! To enjoy this
trail you must love walking on and looking at ROCKS! Plan on LOTS of
them! There’s not much foliage at this altitude! NOTE: Always check
weather conditions before hiking – especially this hike and any high
Cecret Lake, Little Cottonwood Canyon – (yes, “Cecret” is spelled
with a “C”)
This is one of the most scenic, family-friendly, high altitude hikes you’ll
find in the Wasatch Mountain Range. The trailhead is located at Alta Ski
Resort , near the Albion Basin Campground, top of Little Cottonwood
Canyon. Expect a 1.6 mile round trip hike with 458 ft. elevation gain.
Elevation at the trailhead is 9875 ft. above sea level and tops out at over
10,000 ft. Enjoy plenty of beautiful, green, lush foliage with hundreds of
wildflowers nearly all the way to the lake, depending on the time of year.
Keep your eyes open for moose, deer and other small critters that live in
this high terrain.
Mt. Timpanogos – American Fork Canyon – If hiking the Alps in
is not possible this summer, do the next best thing – take a short drive into
American Fork Canyon and hike Mt. Timpanogos via the Timpooneke Trail.
You don’t have the whole 14.8 miles (round trip) to appreciate this
exceptional mountain! It’s the MOST popular high-altitude, hiking
destination in all of Utah! Families of all ages can enjoy this mountain.
Hike for a few minutes or all day long, if you like. If you hike to the
summit, you’ll gain nearly 4400 ft elevation gain in about 7.5 miles each
way. Bring plenty of water and stop often to take photos all along the way!
If you are able to hike this mountain during the week, you’ll find more
peace and quiet all along the way, without lots of hikers.
Why High Altitude hiking is SO great:
· See for yourself what a blanket of incredibly, beautiful, vibrant, wild
flowers of all colors looks like that is only seen at high altitudes above
· You snooze, you loose. This is a very rare, short season of hiking on
high altitude trails – since you have to wait until the bulk of the snow has
melted to get on the trails AND you have to act fast before the weather
turns cold in the fall.
· Experience a birds-eye view. You have a rare privilege of FEELING like a
bird high up in the sky! You see things ONLY a bird gets to see i.e.
hundreds of miles of mountains, peaks, gorges, lakes, streams, strange
rock formations, left over avalanche shoots, incredible views of valleys
below, peaks up close and personal, rare wildlife sightings i.e. moose,
mountain goats, deer, elk, smaller critters, etc.
· Discover what high altitude FEELS like. Notice how the air is much
thinner and how you need to walk slower or stop more often, catch your
breath and take in the beauty.
· Find out what high altitude SMELLS like. A few words I use to describe
it would be FRESH, COOL, CLEAN mountain air!
· Notice how much bluer the sky is compared with the color of the sky in
· Once you try high altitude hiking, you’ll be hooked! It’s very addicting!
· Learn how happy you feel once you’ve been in the high terrains. I
always feel SO happy when I come home from a high altitude hike. So
many times I have left on the hike in the morning feeling rushed, guilty for
leaving all my work behind, stressed and anxious about all that needs to be
done, etc. Then, a few hours later, I come home feeling so incredibly
happy and full of enthusiasm for life. My problems all seem a lot more
manageable when you feel so happy!
· For just a few hours you get to see the BIG picture in life. You have an
opportunity to get some new insight and perspective on how small and
puny you and your problems really are compared to this vast, awe-
· And last but not least, high altitude hiking does NOT have to be hard.
It can be very easy and extremely safe for all members of the family to
How high is “High Altitude Hiking”? In Utah, Kings Peak is the
(around 13,000 ft. above sea level), but our most common “high altitude
hikes” along the Wasatch Mountains are approx 9,000 – 12,000 ft. above
Where to find a LOT of super easy, family-friendly, high altitude hikes
Utah: We are very blessed to have so many canyons available to us in
parts of Utah. Drive as far as you can up any scenic canyon and you’ll most
likely find nearby trails to explore. From Cedar City all the way to Bear
Lake, there are many canyons to drive to and explore. Ogden Canyon,
Weber Canyon, Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons, Millcreek Canyon,
American Fork Canyon, Provo Canyon, Logan Canyon, and the list is long!
High Altitude Hiking at any World-Class Ski Resort in Utah – Deer Valley,
Canyons, Park City, Snow Basin, Brian Head, Snowbird, Brighton, Alta,
Solitude, etc. ALL have summer hiking trails.
High Altitude Hiking in Mountain Communities – Go to a Visitor
Alta, Park City, Eden, Garden City, Morgan, Heber, Kamas, etc. and ask
about their local hiking trails.
How do I prepare for a high altitude hike? Bring plenty of water
(1 – 2
liters/person depending on length of hike). Drink often since water gives
you energy and will help eliminate altitude sickness. Always bring extra
clothing since it is much cooler than lower valleys. Bring an extra snack
and/or extra water for AFTER the hike, on the ride down the mountain,
since this will help relieve the pressure on your ears.
The downside of high altitude hiking: There is less oxygen at
elevations and some people adjust easier to this than others. Some need a
little more time to adjust. The most common problem is “High Altitude
sickness”. If you start to experience nausea, light headedness, shortness
of breath, headache, etc., stop hiking and rest. Drink water. Don’t push
yourself. Turn around and head back down, if necessary.
High Altitude Hiking can be deceiving: Some hikers who feel
they are in
great shape may not understand why they are breathing so hard and need
to stop and rest. Whether you are in excellent physical shape or not, you
are not getting as much oxygen as you might at lower altitudes. Plan
ahead of time to stop and rest more often than you normally would.
Who can enjoy this? All ages and all abilities can enjoy some
high altitude walking or hiking
When can I enjoy this? It all depends on weather and snow
Generally July through September is peak season.
Potential dangers: Don’t walk on snowfields that you may
the way. These are generally dangerous to walk on and may be very hollow
or icy. Take photos but stay off of them. Stay away from the edge of