Out of the park

4 Nearby Hikes That Offer More Than Just a Vista

Hit the road for an adventure that might just include a dip in a hot spring or a glimpse of a bison herd.

By Joanna Flug June 4, 2019

From soaring mountain ranges to hidden hot springs, there is so much to be explored and discovered in the Park City environs. Here are a handful of our favorite “neighborhood” hikes.

Image: Joanna Flug

Fifth Water Hot Springs 

Elevation gain: 635’

Distance: 4.5 miles (out-and-back)

Getting there: The drive from Park City to the trailhead on Diamond Fork Rd (just east of Spanish Fork, UT) is roughly 1.5 hours (77 miles) and offers views of lakes, mountains, and jagged rocks along the way. Once you arrive, there is a small parking lot where the trailhead starts. To avoid crowds, plan your sojourn for a weekday morning or late afternoon. The trail is dog-friendly (leashed, of course).

Located in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest (fs.usda.gov), these hot springs are well worth the hike. The terrain itself is moderate as the beautiful trail along the river takes you through the forest, and past wildflowers. Once you start to get close to the hot springs, you will be able to smell the sulfur. Follow your nose to several pools of varying temperatures and a waterfall at the top. If you are lucky enough to enjoy these springs sans crowds, you can hop around from pool to pool.

Saratoga Hot Springs

Distance: 0.25 mile to the springs

Getting there: These springs are located near the northwest side of Utah Lake at city-owned Inlet Park, Saratoga Springs— just under an hour drive from Park City (54 miles). Park in the south parking lot, if you can find space.

Pack a picnic and bring the entire posse—or a date—to this relaxing pool. When you arrive, there is a parking lot located just ¼ mile from the springs, so the hiking portion of the adventure is minimal. The springs are open year-round, 6 a.m.–10 p.m.; we recommend taking advantage of early morning soaks or sunset views. Of note: There are no trash cans by the springs, so be sure to pack out your trash.

Donut Falls Trail

Elevation gain: 531’

Distance: 3 miles out-and-back

Getting there: The drive from Park City up Big Cottonwood Canyon to the Mill D Trailhead (located in the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest) is a quick 40 minutes (36 miles). Once you are in the canyon, it is about 9 miles to the trailhead. If the trail itself doesn’t impress, the drive will; the winding road is flanked by dramatic, bouldering mountains on either side.

Donut Falls is a relatively easy hike that offers plenty of wildlife sightings, so keep an eye out for moose and deer (of note: no dogs are permitted here). The trail winds through woods and meadows and follows along a stream for most of the way. At the peak of the trail, you’ll discover a plunging waterfall. The water cascades into a pothole; and you can venture under the arch to look up at the falls.

On your way out of the canyon, stop by The Hog Wallow (thehogwallow.com) for a bite and a drink. The vibe is what you would expect, cozy and full of locals and regulars. The bartenders know just about everyone who walks in the door—and even when they don't know you, they make you feel just as welcome.

Antelope Island State Park boasts backcountry trails for hiking and biking, places to dip one's toes in the Great Salt Lake, a free-range bison herd, and more.

Image: Joanna Flug

Antelope Island

Getting there: The drive from Park City is a little over an hour (70 miles). Because this is a state park there is an entrance fee: $10 per vehicle up to 8 people.

If you are looking for a full day outside exploring, Antelope Island, stateparks.utah.gov, is the perfect destination. With an area of about 42 square miles, it is the largest of 10 islands located in the Salt Lake area and offers a little something for everyone. Whether you prefer to hike, mountain bike, fish, camp, horseback ride or just take in the wildlife, Antelope Island has it all. To savor a full day of adventure, simply drive or bike around the island with stops along the way to view bison, hike trails, and relax on the sandy beach. Of note: Be sure to give the free-range bison their space, and try to avoid gnat season. 

These “neighborhood” outings are just a taste of Utah's potential adventure hotspots. Don't be afraid to spread your wings and venture even further afield to Zion, Arches, Bryce, Moab, and beyond. Happy trails!






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