Hiking in Utah: 21 Most Beautiful Hikes in 2023
Are you looking for stunning places to hike in Utah? We have everything you need to know!
Utah has some of the most aesthetic and exotic terrains in the United States. Utah has a rich landscape; Utah has the best natural attractions ranging from dense forests, mystical deserts, stunning lakes, epic summits, etc.
These natural attractions are open to the public to explore and cherish along countless miles of hiking trails. You will experience the breathtaking views of the beautifully sculpted state formed by the amazingly diverse environment over centuries from these trails.
Whether you’re a beginner or an expert looking for some crazy and fun hiking adventures, Utah has a variety of beautiful trails you might want to discover! Since many of the most beautiful trails in Utah are located in national parks, I highly recommend purchasing an annual US Park pass. You will save many after the second or third national park. Before we start, you might want to take a look at this hiking checklist.
21 Best Hiking Spots in Utah That Are A Must-Visit
The Narrows, Zion National Park
Zion National Park has the world-famous ZionNarrows, one of the best hiking trails in Utah. The trail length can be up to 16 miles, taking you to stunning spots with breathtaking views. The path is easy to hike on and good for beginners.
The trail is the narrowest section of the Zion Canyon, leading to the Virgin River flowing between cliffs, each reaching 2,000 feet. You will find freshwater swimming holes where you can enjoy them. If you wish to hike on The Narrows, it is suggested that you plan an overnight trip and stay back at one of the twelve isolated campsites. You will need to get a reservation or book for the hike.
Don’t forget to bring sun protection and plenty of water to the park as it can get extremely hot, especially from June to August. I recommend hiking the trail in spring or autumn.
Angel’s Landing, Zion National Park
Another popular hiking trail in the Zion National Park is Angel’s Landing. This 4.1-mile hike might be strenuous, but it leads to the most epic views in Utah.
The hike starts by going up to the Zion Canyon, taking you to the base of Angel’s Landing. If you’re afraid of heights, consider stopping here and enjoying the views. Beyond this mark, you will experience one of the most adventure-filled heights as the path gets steeper and narrower. There are chains on either side of the way you can hold onto.
The hike ends, taking you to a 360-degree open view. If you’re looking for a peaceful stroll, don’t visit during the busy season to avoid crowds. From the beginning of April this year, everyone visiting Angel’s Landing will need a permit. Just as with the The Narrows trails above, I recommend starting early in the morning and bringing plenty of drinking water, as temperatures can get extremely hot.
While hiking Angels Landing is definitely the most stunning hiking trail in Utah, I do not recommend it for families with kids, and people with fear of heights. I don’t recommend attempting it with kids under the age of 14 years. Also, try to avoid hiking on weekends, as it can get very crowded.
The Wave, Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness
Crossing the Utah/Arizona border, the Wave is a stunning trail with a pretty red-stone path. The hike is approximately 5.2 miles with a moderate difficulty level. Beginners and pros at hiking visit the Vermillion Cliffs to explore the mesmerizing patterns and landscapes that follow The Wave.
Although hiking at the Wave is worth a shot, you might find it hard to get a permit. The trail allows only 64 permits, of which 16 are walk-in permits. If you’re lucky enough, you can surely score a permit and enjoy the most picturesque location in Utah. The strict handling of permits makes this hike very unique and it will definitely not be crowded as it can get sometimes in Zion National Park.
If you apply for the walk-in lottery, you can also apply for the walk-in lottery that happens at the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Visitor Center in Kanab, Utah. Between 8:30-9 AM, the lottery briefings begin and the staff accepts applications. If you don’t win the lottery and want to try again the next day, you don’t have to fill out the form again. Just go in before 9 and tell the ranger your previous number.
Peek-A-Boo Loop, Bryce Canyon
Peek-A-Boo is a circular pattern trail that drops beneath Bryce Canyon’s rim, promising the park’s highest concentration of hoodoo formations. Prepare to move out of the way of cowboys guiding horseback riding groups along the trail.
The scenery on this stunning climb is out of this world, and it’s clear to see why it’s regarded as one of Utah’s top hikes. Although the route is brief, it includes a lot of ascents and descents, ensuring that you receive a decent workout. The hike is approximately 3.5 miles long and doesn’t require a permit.
You can also start this hike from Bryce Point Parking Lot. This is our recommended path to do this loop, it is slightly longer and harder, but we really like the added views.
The Subway, Zion National Park
Zion National Park contains long tunnel-like rock passages similar to underground subways. The 9.5-mile trail can be hiked in two ways, both being quite strenuous to walk. The hike may require extensive route finding, and for the bottom-up hike, you need to climb over boulders and wade through creeks to get to the top.
You can also plunge into the cold water of the canyon, but make sure you have enough energy to complete the hike. The top-down hike requires a lot of canyoneering, long swims, harnesses, and rappelling skills. You must get a permit for this adventure-filled hike.
You can either hike the Top-Down route or the Bottom-Up route. The first option requires some swimming and proper canyoneering skills. Knowledge of rappelling, having the proper equipment, and knowing all safety measures is important for at least one member of the group.
Golden Cathedral Trail, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
You’ll find the beautiful Golden Cathedral trail at the end of the Neon Canyon in the Escalante Monument. It is 9.1 miles long, with a moderate difficulty level, and you won’t need a permit to get on this hike.
The Golden Cathedral is a longer hike; hence it is suggested that you start it early in the day and take all day-hiking essentials along with you. The hike leads to the emerald pool grotto. A small hole in the cavernous ceiling brings beautiful sunlight, making the place a perfect picture spot.
I recommend bringing a GPS-device 2-3 liters of water per person-There is no shade until you reach Neon Canyon. The trail is sometimes difficult to follow, therefore prepare yourself properly.
Buckskin Gulch Day Hike – Wire Pass Trailhead, Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness
Brings the longest slot canyon in the world. The buckskin hike takes up to 16 miles and can be quite strenuous. If you’re hiking from the Wire Pass route, you will need to climb over a few boulders to reach Buckskin.
You will find ancient petroglyphs on the canyon walls at Buckskin Gulch and Wire Canyon junction. After reaching Buckskin, the hike gets trickier. You’ll need to pass thru cold water, boulder jams, and similar obstacles. The trek requires a permit, and it is best to visit during the off-winter months. The canyon’s er is not safe to drink. Hence, you’ll need to carry enough water too.
Crowds will dissipate beyond the initial set of narrows (ending at 2.8 miles), giving hikers solitude in the awesome slot.
Paria Canyon Backpacking Trail, Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness
The Paria riverbed lies the Paria Canyon, a 68-mile long backpacking hike. The hike is similar to the Zion Narrows but is more remote and isolated. The difficulty level for hiking Paria Canyon is moderate but quite fun.
The trip to Paria Canyon takes four days by car shuttle; however, using challenging logistics gives you the opportunity for private camping in Utah’s exotic canyons. The hike is the best place for solitude. You can explore the giant rocks of the Navajo Stones with river water flowing in between.
The risk of flash floods is the highest in July, August, and early September. Flash floods in Paria Canyon, particularly in the Narrows, can be very dangerous since there is no high ground in the Narrows. In the days leading up to your trip, be sure to check Paria Canyon weather and if there is a chance of rain, call the Rangers station to seek their advice about whether or not it is safe to hike.
Coyote Gulch, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Coyote Gulch is a beautiful slot canyon in Utah’s red-rock country like Paria Canyon. You can complete in one to four days rather than four is less logistically difficult. It is a 13-to-22 mile-long hike with moderate difficulty depending on the route you take.
The Coyote Gulch is reasonably level and easy to maneuver, and this is one of the best overnight hiking trips in Utah for beginners. Along the way, you’ll see towering canyon walls, a big mystic arch, a natural bridge, and countless waterfalls. The trail runs along creek banks for the majority of its length, so expect your feet to be wet the entire time.
The Grand Staircase Escalante and the surroundings are BLM land, meaning that it’s owned by the public. You can camp, hike, and adventure in there completely for free.
Lower Calf Creek Falls, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
One of the easiest spots for hiking in Utah is the Lower Creek Water Falls. This 6.7-mile-long hike is easy, mile-long, pet-friendly. The best thing about this hike is that it leads you to the mesmerizing giant waterfall in the middle of the Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Aside from the falls, other places of interest along the path, all marked with numbered posts and a helpful guide available at the trailhead.
The hike is near the highway and is easily accessible. However, it gets crowded easily. I would suggest, that you visit during busy seasons and avoid extremely sunny days. From the top of the hike, you’ll enjoy the beautiful monuments of the Staircase Escalante.
Make sure to pick up a brochure, as it contains a lot of useful information you might have and hints you might miss if you are unaware. At Stop 7 pause to view the dramatic vertical striping visible on walls on the far side of the canyon. Known as desert varnish, the stripes are actually caused by living microbes that oxidize iron and manganese found in clay minerals.
Corona Arch, Arches National Park
Another pet-friendly hike that you need to must-visit in Utah is Corona Arch. If you’re short on time, hiking out to Corona Arch in Moab, just outside Arches National Park, is the perfect opportunity to see these delicate sandstone beauties. The hike is 3 miles and very easy.
An easy 20-30 minute stroll leads to the arch, followed by a short scramble up a steep rock wall helped by safety wires. It appears to be more complicated than it is! You’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the Corona Arch and neighboring mesas after that. It also makes the best spot to stop and test your photography skills.
If you are in Moab, this trail is a great option for a quick hike that can be knocked off your list in a morning or afternoon. If you hike the trail on a weekday in winter, you will probably barely meet any other hikers.
Delicate Arch Trail, Arches National Park
A picturesque road with panoramic views of Arches National Park and the La Sal Mountain range leads to Utah’s most famous arch. It is a short three-mile hike that lets you explore the park’s wildflowers and pretty skies.
Hiking out for sunset is a must-do; remember to pack a headlamp and a trail map on your phone to get back to your car safely after it gets dark. From the Lower Delicate Arch Viewpoint, located close to the road, it takes only a 100-yard walk across level terrain to obtain a good view of the arch from a mile away. The hike requires no permit and is easily accessible. However, it gets overcrowded. If you’re looking to hike at peaceful places, then you might want to avoid busy seasons when visiting the Delicate Arch.
The best time to photograph the arch is at sunset. However, this is also the busiest time with the most visitors. I recommend choosing sunrise to take pictures if you can. The atmosphere is much quieter, however, the sun rises behind the arch and creates a very different effect than during sunset.
Pfiefferhorn Trail, Wasatch Mountain Range
Pfiefferhorn, at 11,326 feet, is the third highest peak in Utah’s Wasatch Range and one of the top treks in Utah to accomplish while in Salt Lake City. The hike is 9 miles long with strenuous difficulty but the best experience. The walk requires no permit and is accessible at all times.
The trail needs some scrambling, negotiating a knife ridgeline, and hiking up the steep slope after passing by the lake to reach the peak of the Pfiefferhorn. While walking, you’ll pass by Red Pine Lake, a beautiful and popular Wasatch hiking site. This trek has about 44,000feet of elevation gain, steep slopes, knife-edge ridges, and expansive views. The hike requires no permit, and you can visit it in any season.
The hike will take around 1.5 hours from Lower Red Pine Lake and hiking up there to enjoy the sunrise is an unforgettable experience.
Mount Timpanogos, Wasatch Mountain Range
Known for its vivid wildflowers, mountain goats, and impressive views, Mount Timpanogos is the second-highest summit in Salt Lake City’s Wasatch Range, standing at 11,752 feet. It is a 14-mile strenuous hike so you won’t need extensive hiking gear.
The Timpooneke Trail, which leads to the summit of Mount Timpanogos, is a challenging but not complex trek that is well worth the effort. It is possible to accomplish it as a lengthy, demanding day trek or an overnight camping trip. The hike climbs to the Grand Staircase, a canyon with astonishing views. The hike ends at the Timpanogos Basin, where you might want to rest and enjoy the fresh air.
There are two ways to reach Timpanogos Summit: the Timpooneke Trail or the Aspen Grove Trail. Both trailheads are in American Fork Canyon and are a 22-minute drive apart from each other. While similar in length, Timpooneke remains more popular for reasons not totally clear. Maybe because it’s a little shorter and has less elevation gain. You have the option of taking one route up and the other route down to maximize epic views, too!
Fairyland Loop, Bryce Canyon
The northern area of Bryce Canyon has a magnificent trail. The hike is 7.4 miles long with moderate difficulty. You’ll discover the park’s iconic swirling hoodoos during the walk and down into the canyon itself, starting at the rim and ending at the bottom.
With a lot less foot traffic, you’ll see a lot of the same landscapes as the famed Navajo Loop Trail. From Sunset Point to Fairyland Point, the Fairyland Loop Trail includes a section of the Rim Trail. This trek is considered difficult since it takes you up through various heights and exposes you to the sun for long periods.
Whilst a lot of people head to Sunrise Point to start the trail, The Fairyland Loop has its own designated parking lot. It is pretty small, so you will need luck to get a spot. Otherwise, head to Sunrise Point which has a lot more spaces.
Monte Cristo via Cardiff Pass Trail, Wasatch Mountain Range
Monte Cristo via Cardiff Pass Trail begins at Alta Ski Area, which is located east of Salt Lake City and leads to the summits of Monte Cristo and Mt. Superior. Hikers on this 5.3-mile hike will be rewarded with spectacular vistas of the Wasatch Range and other ski slopes.
Don’t take this hike lightly. It’s a fairly steep climb with some risky scrambling sections, so only experienced hikers who are okay with exposure should attempt it. It is suggested that you take a pair of trekking poles to help you balance and not scramble. You’ll also need sun protection stuff as you’ll find no shade during the hike.
The difficulty makes this peak less frequently done than many other peaks around the Wasatch. For bonus points, it adds less than 1/2 mile to the hike to traverse from Mount Superior over the Monte Cristo Peak and is highly recommended.
The Highline Trail, Uinta Mountains
One of the craziest trails to discover when hiking in Utah is the Highline Trail. The trail is about 10,000 feet above the timberline, so this hike isn’t for you if you’re scared of heights.
The 78-mile long hike can be strenuous and would require some technical skills. This trail runs through the Ashley National Forest and the High Uintas Wilderness, following the Uinta Mountains from Mirror Lake to Forest Service Road 043, northwest of Vernal. Much of the trail is above treeline and 10,000 feet. The route is best used from June to October and offers a variety of activities. This trail is also suitable for dogs.
Much of the trail is above 11,000 feet, with several passes over 12,000 feet. Weather in the Uinta is frequently stormy during the summer hiking window. Some sections require attention to route finding, so I only recommend this hike for experienced outdoor lovers.
Diamond Fork Hot Springs Trail, Springville
A trip to the Diamond Fork Hot Springs is a must-do and one of the top hikes in Utah because of its blue hot spring lagoons and breathtaking surroundings. The 4.5-mile round trip is very easy to hike and provides one of the best scenic views; hence you should visit it.
Take a while and relax in the naturally heated pools encircled by spectacular canyon walls. The trail is best used from May to October and is generally used for hiking. This trail is also open to dogs, although they must be kept on a leash.
In wintertime, once a major storm hits and road conditions get sketchy, the Forest Service does close the last 6 miles to vehicles. So be sure to check with the Forest Service about road conditions before you head out or call (801) 798-3571.
Little Wild Horse/Bell Canyon Trail, Hanksville
Little Wild Horse/Bell Canyon is one of Utah’s most beautiful non-technical slot canyons. It is an 11.2-mile hike with a beautiful circle with breathtaking views. The hike is suitable for hikers of all abilities, and the hike does not necessitate specialized equipment or risky climbs.
If you hike the entire loop, it will take you all day. If you don’t have time, we recommend hiking as far as you want up Little Wild Horse and then returning the same route. Keep a watch on the weather, as with all of the slot canyon treks listed here, and if rain is in the forecast, save this path for another day.
Kanarra Creek Canyon Trail, Kanarraville
The Kanarra Creek Canyon Trail also has a few handbuilt ladders to descend farther into the canyon. It’s best to use water shoes for hiking, such as these Astrals from Bearfoot Theory. The Kanarra Trail is 2.7 miles long and is moderate.
Always check the weather forecast before trekking in slot canyons to avoid flash floods. The Kannara Creek Canyon Trail also has a few handbuilt ladders that can descend further into the canyon.
Frary Peak Trail on Antelope Island
This out-and-back climb on Antelope Island, just outside of Salt Lake City, brings you to the top of Frary Peak, the island’s highest point, for spectacular views of the Great Salt Lakes. There’s a chance you’ll see some of the island’s bison. Just remain a safe distance from them and allow them plenty of room.
The path can be icy and muddy in the winter, so it’s better to save it until late spring or fall (when the adjacent mountains are still snowcapped). Summer treks are best done early in the morning to escape both the heat and the crowds.
Ready to Hike in Utah?
Now that you have a list of all the best hiking spots in Utah, get your backpacks ready and enjoy a fun-filled adventure. Let me know in the comments below if you have any questions and take a look at the best hiking apps of 2023.