“Start them young” is the adage to live by if you want your kids to grow up loving the outdoors, especially when it comes to hiking. Taking your kids on enjoyable adventures, of course, is key. There’s nothing worse than a crying five-year-old who doesn’t want to walk anymore when you’re still miles from home. Following are some short, easy routes in and around Park City suitable for even the youngest hikers.
McPolin Nature Trail
Perhaps Park City’s most iconic structure, the McPolin Barn, located along Highway 224 north of town, offers an irresistible photograph to nearly everyone who drives by. While many stop to admire the barn, few visitors end up on the quiet, family-friendly McPolin Nature Trail. Designed to be the perfect introduction to hiking for small children, you can get to this trail by heading west for a short distance on the Farm Trail. At just one mile round-trip, it’s an ideal place for children, where they can wander through the secluded woods while exploring native plants and animals, including chokecherry, sage grouse, and even the occasional mule deer.
The trails below Utah Olympic Park offer 43 acres of sage-covered hills, where you can choose from shorter or longer well-marked loops. Designated for hikers only, Run-A-Muk can be accessed from Olympic Parkway or the Millennium Trail, just north of Bear Cub Drive and south of the Whole Foods Market pedestrian tunnel. If you have your pup along, this is also one of Park City’s best off-leash areas for dogs to run wild. We recommend this hike either in the early morning or in the evening when temperatures are a bit cooler.
Bloods Lake, Guardsman Pass
For a big payoff with little effort, head 7.8 miles up from Main Street along Highway 224 to get to the Guardsman Pass parking area. Several popular routes, including the Wasatch Crest Trail, start here. But if you park facing the valley, you’ll find the Bloods Lake Trail to your left, running downhill for only .6 miles till you get to the lake. On warmer days, you can even wade into the lake if you want. You can also combine this hike with the nearby Lackawaxen Lake via Peak 10,420.
Ruth Lake, Uinta Mountains
If you're looking for something a bit further afield, the Uinta Mountains make an excellent day excursion, especially when you want to beat the heat. The hike to Ruth Lake is short and easy, perfect for children and novice hikers. This scenic route meanders through forest and past water, offering fantastic views of the cliffs, blooming wildflowers, and the option to explore numerous side trails to surrounding lakes. Ruth Lake is also home to some of the most popular climbing in the Uintas and dispersed camping is plentiful. Take highway 150 towards Mirror Lake, going past Bald Mountain Pass to mile marker 35 where you'll find Ruth Lake Trailhead (plus a parking lot and bathroom) on the west side of the road. Make sure to stop by the Samak Smoke House en route to the hike to pick up some snacks!
You can find more trails and maps by checking out the Mountain Trails website. Enjoy!