When some people vacation, they want to see the sights and squeeze in as many new experiences as possible. If rigid itineraries make you green around the gills, and all you want is a chance to relax and soak up the spirit of a place when you vacay, you’ll be happy to discover that there are abundant opportunities to kick back and commune with nature when you visit Alta.
Hiking, biking, climbing, and other activities abound, but you can also take your time, breathing deep the pristine air as you picnic in a mountain meadow, listening to birdsong and buzzing bees and building castles in the clouds rolling by. If you’re a lover of equines, you could also book a horseback ride to take in the scenery. Anglers will love the opportunity to spend the day fishing in secluded Alpine lakes, or casting for cutthroat or rainbow trout in nearby Provo Canyon. Just don’t forget your fishing license.
Hiking lets you drink up nature at a sedate pace, but sometimes you want to get a move on and reach your destination faster. If you're a go-getter, mountain biking is the perfect way to experience the majesty of Alta, whether you’re tackling the popular and challenging Castle Loop that leads from downtown to the spectacular cliffs of Devil’s Castle, you’re winding your way to Donut Falls, or you’re taking it easy with the White Pine Lake Trail.
Before you set out, make sure bikes are allowed on the trails you plan to visit, and always watch out for hikers, who frequently use the same trails. With a bit of planning and a "safety first" attitude, there’s no reason you can’t take in all the natural beauty Alta has to offer, even as you get your heart racing, zipping down rugged mountain trails. If going by foot is simply too slow, rent a mountain bike to get from point A to point B a bit faster.
Climbing for fitness and fun isn't every vacationer's idea of a good time, but for the select few who live to boulder, belay, lead, and rappel, Alta is an amazing destination, full of popular climbing areas offering routes with varying levels of difficulty. You'll enjoy cool temps and spectacular scenery, but the best part is that Alta hasn't yet become a climbing destination. This means serious adventurers have a unique opportunity to traverse towering rock walls without the need to navigate around a crowded stream of newbies.
While you will, at times, have to find your way via user-created trails in order to reach remote spots, you'll surely deem the effort worthwhile when you find yourself alone in a singular, human-versus-nature test of the will. Try the trad routes at Devil's Castle for that distinctly Alpine aesthetic, conquer the South Ridge of Mt. Superior and become one of the select few to sign the summit register, or enjoy a breathtaking view of Little Cottonwood Canyon from the Hellgate Cliffs, where a variety of walls offer challenges for all levels of climbers.
Whether you are an avid hiker or just looking to add a simple traipse through some of the area's famous natural beauty, you're sure to be pleasantly surprised at the diversity of great options available. Some of the best are covered right here!
Cecret Lake Trail (Easy Difficulty)
During the summer and fall, this family friendly trail is a wonderful introduction to hiking regardless of your skill level. Conquer the trail, and you'll be able to take in the view from Cecret Lake, which makes a great place to rest and take some pictures and record your vacation memories videos before heading back. Due to the location of the trail, it is often covered in snow between early October and late May, so check for road closures and be prepared for increased challenge during those times.
Donut Falls Trail (Easy Difficulty)
Another family friendly hike, the Donut Falls Trail rises just over five hundred feet over its three mile length. Although the namesake waterfall is the highlight of this trail, the scenery is gorgeous from start to finish and you may find yourself spending more time taking pictures than on the hike itself. With a dedicated parking area and the overall ease of the trail, this is a perfect choice for those wanting to introduce children to nature in a relatively comfortable way.
Lake Blanche Trail (Intermediate Difficulty)
At just under seven miles, the Lake Blanche Trail is great for intermediate to highly skilled hikers, and offers more rewarding views than most for your efforts. Climbing over two thousand seven hundred feet along the way, this trail features spectacular scenery over its length and includes a waterfall before reaching the lake itself. Although more heavily trafficked during summer and fall months, more experienced hiking enthusiasts make use of the trail throughout the year.
Sugarloaf and Devil's Castle (Intermediate / Hard Difficulty)
So, you've made it to Cecret Lake with plenty of energy to spare? If your day of hiking fun is just getting started and you're ready for the next challenge, just look up. The trail from Cecret Lake to Sugarloaf and the slightly more difficult to reach Devil's Castle may appear to be a walk in the park, but be prepared to summon your inner mountaineer for portions of the trek. The views are definitely worth the trip, if you're up for this climb.
Dog Lake and Desolation Lake Trail (Intermediate / Hard Difficulty)
This heavily wooded trail is a perfect option for nature enthusiasts with hiking experience or those looking for an easy to reach intermediate difficulty trail with some length. Starting at and looping back to a parking area at the trailhead, the roughly nine mile hike will introduce you to some of the best surroundings Big Cottonwood Canyon has to offer. Heavily forested and teeming with wildlife, the trail climbs over two thousand one hundred feet and incorporates both Dog Lake and Desolation Lake, which make enjoyable and well-placed rest points.