Trail Tuesday

Tips for Fall Hiking in Utah

It's hard to resist hitting the trail when fall colors creep in, but make sure you follow these tips to stay safe towards the end of the hiking season.

By Michaela Wagner October 3, 2017

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Fall colors are peaking in the Wasatch. 

If you take one look at the mountains right now, you know why hiking in this part of Utah in the fall is magical. Cooler temperatures aren't going to stop those of us who love hiking from getting out there. That being said, don't hit the trail like it's the middle of July. Here are some fall hiking tips to help you stay safe and enjoy the best the season has to offer. 

Check the latest trail conditions and choose your destination wisely. 

Before heading out on any hikes in the fall, make sure you know what you're getting yourself into. With many of the area peaks already tipped with snow, it's better to hike at lower elevations. The mix of snow, rain, and sunshine also leave trails muddy. You can find current trail conditions and closures with local organizations like Mountain Trails Foundation and Basin Recreation and with the locally developed Mountain Hub trail and backcountry conditions app.  

Make sure to check the weather forecast.

Needless to say you don't want to get halfway up a hike in shorts and a t-shirt only to find yourself in the middle of an unexpected downpour. Fall weather is unpredictable and can change on a dime. It's not unusual to get rain, snow, and sunshine all in the same hour. 

Get an earlier start.

During the summer, you can sleep in or start a several hour hike after work, but the same is not true of fall. Get up and out there early to ensure you take advantage of the limited daylight. It's also a good idea to carry a flashlight or headlamp just in case you end up needing more time than you thought.

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Fall foliage

Dress appropriately and wear bright clothing. 

Layers, windproof and rainproof clothing, hats, and a solid pair of hiking waterproof hiking boots are essential for fall hiking in Park City and the surrounding area. With many hunters out and about during the fall season, it's also a good idea to wear bright colors. Pack an extra set of clothes in your vehicle to change into after your hike so you don't have to drive home shivering in soaked clothing.

Let someone know where you're going.

Telling someone where you're hiking before you go is a good idea, regardless of the time of year, but it's even more relevant in the fall as an extra security measure in case you end up getting hurt or stuck out there. If you can, bring a buddy or two with on the hike as well--it's more fun and safer!

Stay hydrated and fueled up. Pack extra just in case!

It's easy to drink lots of water when you're hiking in the heat, but many of us forget that it's equally important to stay hydrated when its cooler. In the cold, you also burn more calories, so make sure you bring lots of snacks. Try to bring enough food for twice the amount of time you're planning on hiking in case of any unexpected delays.

Don't forget your camera.

Mother nature doesn't mess around, the colors are incredible out there right now and you'll definitely want to capture it!

Finally, use common sense out there. If the weather looks bad, the trail is muddy or snowed over, or it's getting late, just turn around. Enjoy the kaleidoscope of color out there!


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