21 Great Hikes for All Ages
In a town lauded for mountain biking, folks often overlook the glories of using good ole shoe leather to get out there. Not us, though. Following are 21 of the Park City area’s best hiking routes—some easy, some definitely not easy. But most are either lightly traveled by cyclists or for hikers only, which means no distractions from putting one foot in front of the other. We’ll also introduce you to the season’s best hiking-specific gear, some peaks to aspire to, and a hiking event good for both body and soul.
Note: Leashed dogs are allowed on most Park City trails. If you choose to bring your four-legged friend, please be sure to pick up after her. And remember, if you see a dog wearing a yellow bandana or ribbon, that means the animal needs space. For trail maps, visit mountaintrails.org or pick up printed maps at local sporting goods stores, visitor centers, and other locations throughout town.
One of the perks of living above it all is access to Summit Park’s Over Easy neighborhood walking trail. Winding alternately through shady pine forest and alpine meadows, this 2.5-mile, out-and-back trail is cool in summer and ideal for winter snowshoeing. Get there: From Park City, take the Summit Park exit off westbound I-80 and turn right onto Aspen Drive (which turns into Maple Drive). The parking area will be on your right just past the intersection with Crestview Drive. Note: This trail’s north section is in Salt Lake County, where dogs are not allowed. *Easy/Moderate difficulty, small-kid friendly, hiking trail only, fall foliage, wildflowers.
Run-A-Muk offers a two-mile singletrack trail through 43 acres of sage-covered hills just below the Utah Olympic Park. Choose from the well-marked shorter or longer loops. As its name implies, dogs are allowed to roam off-leash throughout this area. Access Run-A-Muk from either the Millennium Trail, located to the north of Bear Cub Drive and to the south of the pedestrian tunnel near Whole Foods Market, or from a parking area along Olympic Parkway. *Easy, small-kid friendly, dog friendly, views.
The all ages–friendly McLeod Creek trail connects Park City proper with Kimball Junction by way of a wide, flat, crushed-gravel path, running along the creek and over bridges, within easy walking distance of two parks. Leave your car at the Farm Trailhead across from the big white McPolin/Osguthorpe Barn on Highway 224. From there, head north on a leisurely stroll to Matt Knoop Memorial Park, Willow Creek Park (both of which offer playgrounds, restrooms, and picnic areas), and Summit Community Gardens. *Easy, small-kid friendly, dog friendly, fall foliage, water.
A crown jewel among Park City’s open spaces, Round Valley is also a great place to introduce younger kids to hiking. Dogs are also allowed to roam off-leash throughout much of this area. Spring or fall is the best time to hike this trail system, which sits at around 6,500 feet above sea level, because midsummers can be hot. An easy, just-under-two-mile ramble begins on Park City’s eastern edge near the hospital at the Quinn’s Junction Trailhead. From there, follow Rambler through thickets of sagebrush and Gambel oak to Matt’s Flat. Travel for about a half mile until you reach Ability Way, which leads all the way back to the trailhead. *Easy, small-kid friendly, dog friendly.
Though not nearly as high as Park City’s iconic, 10,000-foot Jupiter Peak, PC Hill—with its signature initials visible from just about everywhere in town—is a similarly big draw for hikers. Use this moderately steep, one-mile, out-and-back power walk to wear out bigger kids and/or your dog. From Park City, the trail begins just past Treasure Mountain Middle School on Kearns Blvd (turn-in is on the left). At the top, enjoy views of the Prospector neighborhood, Park City Mountain Resort, and Park Meadows Country Club. *Moderate/intermediate difficulty, appropriate for older children, hiking trail only, dog friendly, vistas.
Ready to see what you’re made of? Of course you are. Hop on the Red Pine gondola, head out on the 1.6-mile Tombstone trail, and hike from the Red Pine Lodge along a creek and through a pine and fir forest till you’ve reached Tombstone Peak. From there, take the Fantasy Ridge trail for another mile to the top of Peak 9350. Want more? Continue across the knife-edge portion of the ridge, which requires some technical hiking over talus (the ropes are there for a reason). Once off the ridge, continue on to the 9,990-ft summit and savor the spoils of your efforts: sweeping views of both Park City and the Uinta Mountain Range. *Steep/long routes, hiking trail only, fall foliage, lift access, hike to a peak, vistas, wildflowers.
Between Canyons Village and the Park City Base
Spanning 2.25 miles of lush aspen and pine groves, the consistently steep, out-and-back Iron Canyon trail provides a steady workout along a not-too-exposed route. Begin at the trailhead at the end of Iron Mountain Court (get there off Hwy 224 on Meadows Drive, located just south of the Farm Trailhead). Note: Bug spray is a must, as mosquitos are also fans of this mostly shaded route. At the overlook, have a seat on the bench, take a breath, and enjoy the views of Park City, both town and resort. *Moderate/intermediate difficulty, appropriate for older children, hiking trail only, dog friendly, fall foliage, hike to a peak, vistas, wildflowers.
Park City Base Area
A six-mile loop leading deep into Park City Mountain Resort begins with a ride on the Crescent chairlift (operating through Oct. 22). From the top of the lift, trek up the Crescent Ridge Road to Three Candles. Make a right (north) onto Keystone and then take a left onto the Shadow Lake trail. Circle the lake, keeping an eye out for moose and other wildlife. Return along Jupiter Access Road to the Apex trail, which hooks back into Keystone, Three Candles, the Crescent Ridge Road, and then, finally, the top of the Crescent lift. *Moderate to steep/long route, appropriate for older children, fall foliage, lift access, water, wildflowers.
Another route from the top of the Crescent lift: an out-and-back trail (about seven miles total) that’s a view-lover’s jackpot. Take the Crescent Ridge Road to Three Candles to Keystone, and then take a left at Apex and follow it along the Pioneer Ridge as it turns into Dead Tree. The route passes the Jupiter Mine ore bin and arrives at a low point on the ridgeline; take a minute here to soak in views of the Jupiter/Shadow Lake area. Continue along Dead Tree to Jupiter Peak Road and eventually up to Tri-County/Jupiter Peak (10,000 feet). Enjoy panoramic views of the Central Wasatch, including Mount Raymond, Gobbler’s Knob (at the top of Millcreek Canyon), and Big Cottonwood Canyon. *Steep/long route, fall foliage, lift access, hike to a peak, vistas, wildflowers.
An easily accessed, 3.3-mile loop with lots of shade and minimal biker traffic begins at the Silver Star base/trailhead, located just behind the Park City Golf Course on Three Kings Drive. Head for about a mile up Armstrong (open to cyclists for uphill travel only) till it intersects with the hikers-only Dawn’s trail, marked by a bench dedicated to Dawn Bowling. Return to the Silver Star base. Note: Leave time for lunch and/or a beverage at the Silver Star Café. *Moderate difficulty, appropriate for older children, hiking trail only, dog friendly, fall foliage.
Deer Valley Resort
For a 3-mile loop that skips the downhill, head west from Silver Lake Lodge on the Mid Mountain trail, a 20-mile, 8,000-foot-elevation ramble from Deer Valley to beyond Park City Mountain’s northern boundary. Take a left off Mid Mountain onto the hikers-only Red Cloud Trail, which switchbacks across several ski runs for about a mile before making its way to the top of the Ruby Express chairlift. Ride the chair down (also complimentary!) to the Empire Lodge, and then walk east for 1.5 miles—watch for cyclists—down Mid Mountain and back to Silver Lake Lodge. *Moderate difficulty, appropriate for older children, hiking trail only, fall foliage, lift access, vistas, wildflowers.
Deer Valley’s diverse Silver Lake trail takes hikers alternately through dense forest and wide-open ski runs, allowing for panoramic views of the Jordanelle Reservoir and the surrounding foliage, especially in the fall. This 2.25-mile route to Bald Mountain’s 9,346-foot summit begins at Deer Valley’s Silver Lake Lodge. Walk back down the way you came or take a complimentary ride down on the Sterling Express chairlift during the summer season (daily through Sept 4; weekends until Sept 17). *Moderate difficulty, appropriate for older children, hiking trail only, fall foliage, lift access, hike to a peak, vistas, wildflowers.
Looking for something with a little less commitment? Consider the Sultan Out and Back trail (2 miles, round trip). From Silver Lake Lodge, walk east past the Practice and Nabob Loop mountain biking trails along this route following the ridgeline through grassy meadows before taking a relatively steep dip at the end (which means a short climb on the return). *Easy/Moderate difficulty, small-kid friendly, hiking trail only, fall foliage, vistas, wildflowers.
For a 3-mile, mostly downhill route ending at one of Park City’s biggest attractions—Main Street—take the free city bus to Deer Valley’s Empire Lodge. From there, head west on Mid Mountain to Little Chief. Exit at Sam’s trail and go right (west) at Empire Link to Daly Grind. Follow the two-track road downhill as it becomes Daly Avenue and then Main Street. *Moderate difficulty, appropriate for older children, fall foliage.
Guardsman Pass/Bonanza Flats
As of press time, it was unclear whether Park City Municipal would raise enough money to purchase the 1,400 acres of open space at Guardsman Pass known as Bonanza Flats or if this tract would be relegated to the open market for real-estate development. Either way, the hike to this area’s Lackawaxen Lake via 10,420 Peak is one of the Park City area’s crème de la crème routes. Get there by driving 7.8 miles from Main Street along Hwy 224 to Guardsman Pass. From the parking area, choose the trail that heads straight up the ridgeline. After gaining about 1,000 feet in three-quarters of a mile, you’ll find yourself at a V just below the top of 10,420 Peak (yes, it’s named for the elevation). Go right toward a low point on the ridgeline where a trail drops to Lackawaxen Lake. To return, hike back up to the saddle and then descend on the trail toward the heavily visited Bloods Lake, located just a half mile from the parking area. *Moderate to steep/long route, appropriate for older children, dog friendly, fall foliage, hike to a peak, vistas, water, wildflowers.
To bag a peak with minimal up-front investment, drive up to Guardsman Pass, where an obvious two-track road leading north from the parking area will take you to the saddle between the Jupiter/Tri-County Peak and the Scott’s Bowl overlook. Follow the ridgeline past the top of the Jupiter chairlift and onto the 10,000-foot Jupiter/Tri-County Peak. *Easy, small-kid friendly, dog friendly, hike to a peak, vistas, wildflowers.
Hike For a Cause
Though the tony ski resorts, manicured golf courses, and pricey real estate might indicate otherwise, many Park City families suffer from food insecurity, relying heavily on the Christian Center of Park City’s Food Pantry. In fact, according to CCPC Director of Programs Pete Stoughton, the center feeds between 600 to 1,000 households per month, 70 percent of them immigrant families. Each fall, to help support the center’s efforts—as well as raise awareness of Park City’s hunger problem—the CCPC hosts Hike for Hunger at Deer Valley’s Snow Park Lodge. This family-friendly event includes access to multiple Deer Valley hikes via a ride on the Sterling Express chairlift, dinner and libations, kids’ activities, and live music courtesy of Patwa Reggae Band. Tickets are just $25 per person or $50 for a family (up to five).
This year’s Hike for Hunger will be held on September 8, 2018. For details and tickets, visit ccofpc.org.