Hovercrafting on Utah Lake

There is not much you can do at the Provo Boat Harbor on Utah Lake in the winter.  Unless you have a hovercraft of course!  Hovercraft are a lot of fun and can provide hours of entertainment and can go on water, ice and land making them ideal for the lake in winter.  Even if the ice breaks, as it does this time of year on Utah Lake, you can easily transition to water to ice and back to water again with no problem.

Flying a hovercraft is definitely a unique experience.  It is quite different from ATVs,

Hovercraft at the Provo Boat harbor on Utah Lake

Hovercrafting at the Provo Boat Harbor

waverunners, snowmobiles or any other type of recreational vehicle I can think of.  The ride is pretty smooth since your riding a cushion of air, and since you have no breaks suddenly coming upon an obstacle and having to swerve out of the way is always fun.

While I did undergo some pre-flight instruction, I was told the golden rule of Hover crafting is that “power is your friend.”  While I think this statement is often over used, and has led me to roll snowmobiles among other things, it is definitely true for hovercraft.  Cutting the power on a vehicle that needs power to keep you floating above the earth, only leads you to contact that earth rather dramatically.  Also in a hovercraft since steering is not so great, it is usually better to power around obstacles rather than cutting power and drifting into them.

While hovercraft are a lot of fun they can be a challenge to drive/fly for the beginner.  Since you are essentially riding on an air cushion to turn can take a while.  It is kind of like driving a car at 150 mph, you need to be thinking about making a turn  100 yards before the turn.

Hovercrafting at the Boat Ramp at the Provo Boat Harbor

Landing the hovercraft at the iced over boat ramp at Utah Lake

Hovercraft can go pretty fast on the water and even faster on the ice.  Since there are no brakes on a hover craft, to stop you either need a lot of space, or you can flip the hovercraft around really fast so the fan helps to counter your momentum.  This is especially true on ice as it could take several hundred yards for the hovercraft to come to a stop without flipping it around.

While hovercrafting is not the most practical outdoor activity, but if you ever get the chance to drive one – take it!  It is worth the ride. If you have any questions or comments about hovercrafting on Utah Lake or any other outdoor activity in Utah leave me a comment or send me an email at DustinACook@gmail.com.  And as always don’t forget to go outside and have some fun!

Posted in Great Place for a Date, Greater Provo Area, Winter Activities | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Aspen Grove – A Winter Playground

View of Mount Timpanogos from the parking lot at Aspen GroveView of Mount Timpanogos from the Aspen Grove Parking Lot
Aspen grove provides a winter playground for just about anyone, from the casual snowshoer to the adrenaline hungry telemark skier.  It is located up Provo canyon where the winter maintenance stops on Highway 92.  For those of you who like to use your GPS the location of the parking lot at Aspen Grove is at N 40 24.727′ and W 111 36.313.  The elevation is approximately 6890 ft.

Trail to Cascade Springs

The trail to cascade springs is a popular one with snowmobilers, skiers and snowshoers.

Cross Country Skiing up Provo Canyon near Aspen Grove

Cross Country Skiing in the Aspen Grove Area

This trail begins as the parking lot and then heads north as it begins the climb up to cascade springs.  Since this is an actual road in the summer time, the trail is usually wide and well traveled, almost giving the appearance as if it were groomed.

Many snowshoers will start on the road and then cut off the trail to explore side hills while snowmobilers will typically follow the road all the way to the springs.  Cross country skiers can often be found on the cascade spring trail as the traffic creates almost a groomed path for them to ski up.  Telemarkers can use the trail to switch back up the hills and then from the top ski straight down the mountain for an exhilirating rush.

Timpanogos Trails

View of the South Summit of Timp From Aspen Grove

View of the South Summit of Timpanogos from Aspen Grove

One of the trails to the top of Timpanogos also starts from the Aspen Grove Parking, and many winter summit attempts begin here.  Caution should be exercised here as this trail goes right through a frequent avalanche slide path.  If you are going to be going up Timpanogos or just snow shoeing a little ways closer to the mountain, beware of the slide path and check the avalanche conditions before you go at the Utah avalanche center website http://utahavalanchecenter.org/ If the danger is high you can always snow shoe east of the parking lot through some beautiful meadows that will take you closer to Aspen Grove Lodge and Sundance.

Night Adventures

Aspen Grove is also a great place for snow shoeing at night.  For the night snowshoer it provides a quiet solace and a beautiful star show.  Throw a full moon into the mix and it makes for quite an adventure.  The really nice thing about snowshoeing at night here is that it is very hard to get lost, even if you don’t have a GPS.  Sundance Ski Resort and the Aspen Grove Lodge are well lit enough that they are visible from just about anywhere.  So if you do get a bit turned around or lose your track coming back, just do what they tell you in the movies and head toward the light.

It can be a great date idea if you think a little bit of exercise, a quiet setting to evoke good conversation and a breathtaking view of the mountains below and the stars above is right for you.  If you are a little leery about going into an your not familiar with at night, both Sundance and Aspen Grove Lodge provide guided night activities which can be found on the provided links.

Night Activities at Sundance http://www.sundanceresort.com/explore/wnt_nordic_fullmoon.html

At Aspen Grove Lodge http://aspen.byu.edu/ski/

While many people refer to this area as Aspen Grove, the name actually comes from the private lodge that is located just below this area and just above the Sundance Ski Resort.

Aspen Grove borders the national forest on the South side and state land on the North side.  Translation south of the road and toward Timpanogos is National forest where no motorized vehicles or snowmobiles are allowed, state land north of the road snow mobilers are welcome to ride.

So if you are looking for a place where you can escape the smoggy air in the valley and do a little skiing, snow shoeing, snowmobiling or whatever else you like to do in the snow give the Aspen grove area a try.  As always feel free to leave any questions or comments at the end of this blog or send me an email at DustinACook@gmail.com.  And don’t forget to get outside and have some fun!

Posted in Beautiful Places, Great Place for a Date, Greater Provo Area, Winter Activities | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Happy New Yurt – The Only Way to Winter Camp

Ridge Yurt on the Lilly Lake trail

The Ridge yurt is one of five yurts on the Lilly Lake Trail

Most yurts are found on the Tundras of Mongolia.   However, a few Yurts have made there way to the Uintas to provide winter skiers, snowmobilers and snowshoers with a unique winter camping experience.  For the past 3 years I have celebrated the New Year in the Ridge Yurt near Lilly Lake.  While I don’t recommend going on New Years -because I’ll be there- the yurts are definately worth visiting for any snow shoer or cross country skier looking for an adventure.

For those of you who just want the basics, here is the Skinny:

The Skinny:

Lilly Lake Yurt Systems is made up of 5 different Yurts

Where: The Yurts are located 30 miles from Evanston Wyoming.  In Evanston take Highway 150 to the end of the rate (gate closed in winter)

Distance:  Closest Yurt is 1.5 miles up the trail the farthest is 7 miles

Fees:  Yurts can be reserved overnight for $30 on weekdays and $60 on holidays and weekends.

For more Yurt information: http://www.yurtsofutah.com/yurt-pdf-files/LilyLakeSystem.pdf

What is so Great about the Yurts?

All the yurts are located in beautifully pristine pine forest and offer breath taking

Snowmobile Trail to Ridge Yurt

The trail makes its through the pines

landscapes and quiet solitude for you and your party.  Side trails abound for day trips on snow shoes, cross country skis or snowmobiles.  Plenty of snow also allows for snow scultping, snow caving, snow ball fights and just about any other activity you can think of that involves snow.

On a clear night many stars and constellations not visible in civilization are bright and inspiring, and the warm fire offers a rustic comfort enjoyed throughout the ages.  Perhaps the greatest thing about the yurts are the relief they offer from a busy world, you can leave all your troubles at the parking lot and truly go into the wild, for a guaranteed great adventure in a very simple environment.

What are the Yurt’s like inside?

Most of the yurts sleep 6-8 people on bunks and have a table, chairs, propane stove & lanterns and most importantly a wood burning stove.  I say most importantly a wood burning stove because this is the primary source of heat in the yurt.  While it may be frigid outside, the wood burning stove keeps the yurt toasty warm on the inside.  Temperatures can range at the yurts anywhere from 20-30s in the day to below 0 at night.  This year was my coldest year at the year, it hit -24 at midnight on New Years Eve.

The yurts are typically stocked with pots, pans and kettles for all of your cooking needs.  Firewood is also stocked just outside the Yurt, however it may require some splitting, which is a good way to warm up in the cold.

All the yurts offer great views of the surrounding landscape and great day adventures for

Trail to Boundry Yurt

View of the trees just below the Ridge yurt

snow shoeing, cross country skiing and snowmobiling.  Each yurt is isolated from the next by a mile or more offering quiet solitude for you and your party.  While staying at the yurt is fun, getting there is half the fun.

Getting to the Yurt

The yurts are located in the Lilly Lake area at the end of highway 150.  From Evanston, WY take highway 150 for about 30 miles until you come to where the road is closed for winter, on the left is a parking lot where you can park your vehicle (A small fee is required to park here).

Beginning of the Ski and Snow shoe trail for Lily Lake

View from the trailhead of the Uintas

From the parking lot a trail is marked and groomed for snowshoers and skiers to begin their journey.  This part of the trail is well groomed and also offers day skiers a good course for cross country skiing.  This trail is just over two miles and is not open to snowmobiles.  Both the East Fork Yurt(1.5 miles) and the Bear Claw Yurt(2 miles) are on this trail and therefore are only accessible by snow shoe or cross country ski.

At just over two miles the trail connects with the Lilly Lake trail which is open to

Lily Lake Trail enters into snowmobile country

At this point you have completed just over 2 miles of your trek and the trail is not open to snowmobiles

snowmobiles.  This trail is only groomed about once every 2 weeks, but is heavily used by snowmobilers.  The trail winds through pine forests and open meadows.  About 1 mile up this trail is the Lilly Lake Yurt, which is about 1/4 mile from Lilly Lake itself.  Lilly Lake is covered by snow in the winter.

The Ridge yurt is located just over 2 miles from Lilly Lake, on top of a ridge of course.  Total distance from the parking lot to this Yurt is about 5 miles.  Much of the trail is flat to a slight incline, except for a monster hill at the end to get to the top of the ridge.  Depending on the condition of the trail, and the strength left in your legs, you may want to take off your skis and walk up this hill.

Two miles beyond the Ridge yurt is the Boundry yurt.  It is located in an area that is not open to motorized vehicles so snowshoeing or skiing is your only way in.  From the Ridge Yurt the trail to boundry becomes more difficult and should probably be left to experienced cross country skiers.

What to take to the Yurt?

While the yurts are stocked with cooking utensils, they do not have eating utensils so be sure to pack a mess kit or paper products, as well as some TP for the outhouse.  Also don’t forget to bring good food.  Sharing good food with friends/family is a great evening activity at the Yurt, so bring your favorite meals you can prepare on a stove or with a fire.

While the Yurts do have bunks to sleep on and some have pads you’ll need a warm sleeping bag.  I always back an extra blanket and air mattress in case whoever has fire duty lets the fire die at night.  You’ll also want to bring a water filter.  You can melt snow on the wood burning stove and then filter the water to provide all the water you need for cooking and drinking.

You’ll also want to dress appropriately for winter and bring plenty of warm clothes.  You’ll stay pretty warm on your way to the Yurt, but once you arrive and stop moving you’ll want to bring some dry clothes and a parka to change into.  As always I recommend that you take the 10 essentials with you.

As said multiple times traveling to the yurt can be done in many ways, but I think cross

A Gear Sled on the Lily Lake Trail

Gear sleds are great for bringing up food and the occasional tired snowshoer

country skiing in is the funnest.  If you are going to cross country or snowshoe in I recommend pulling a gear sled with all the food for your group.  Typically we will put our personal gear in a backpack and then take turns pulling the community items in the sled.  Such sleds can be rented from many of the places that rent camping and skiing gear.

To learn more about the yurts or how to make reservations visit  http://www.brorayurts.org/ Also feel free to leave any comments or ask me questions at DustinACook@gmail.com, and don’t forget to go out and have some fun!

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Pine Hollow – A Snow Shoe Adventure for Everyone

Ridge Trail American Fork Canyon

View from the top of the Ridge Trail looking towards Timpanogos

Looking for a nice afternoon snow shoe adventure, or a trail you can take the kids on?  Pine Hollow to the Ridge Trail in American Fork Canyon is a well traveled trail with plenty of scenery along the way.  This well groomed trail gently ascends 1100 feet to a ridge and provides some great views of Timpanogos and the Heber valley.  This is a manageable hike for people of all ages and abilities, whether you’re a new to snow shoeing or a veteran.  For those with a short attention span here is the skinny:

The Skinny

Trail:  Pine Hollow Trail to Ridge Trail

Aproximate length: 2.2 miles to the ridge and potentially longer depending where you want to go, 4.5 round trip

Elevation gain: approximately 1100 feet

Trail Head location:  Across the street from a turnout about .5 miles above Mutual Dell in American Fork Canyon

Trail:  well marked and usually well traveled in the winter time

Time:  About 3 hours including snow angels, snow ball fights and rest stops

Trail Description

View from Pine Hollow Trail head in American Fork Canyon

View of the North Summit of Timpanogos from Pine Hollow Trail Head.

Aspens on the Pine Hollow Trail in American Fork Canyon

Frozen aspens near the second meadow

The trail gently climbs and switch backs at some points for a little over a mile through some scrub oak and then through the pine trees until you reach the first meadow.  This is a great spot to take a break and make some snow angels or even start a friendly snow ball fight.

From the meadow the trail continues to gently rise through the pine forest.  As you reach the 2nd meadow at just under 2 miles, the pine trees are replaced by aspens which are covered with frozen crystals creating a beautiful winter scene.

Once you cross the meadow head to your right where you will soon connect with the ridge line trail.  From here you get a great view of the North Summit of Timpagnogos and a look down American Fork Canyon.  The view is more than

View of Timpanogos from the Ridge in American Fork Canyon

View from the Pine Hollow/Ridge Trail Junction of Timpanogos

worth the 2 mile trek and is definitely worth spending a few minutes to take in the view.

From this point you have a few options to head towards home or trek on.  Not as many people continue on from this point, so if you do, the trail won’t be quite so packed down.

You can head back the way you came or continue on to various other destinations like Mud Springs, Willow Hollow or hike along the ridge to get some nice views of the Heber valley.

Pine Hollow Trail Options

A multitude of options to hike

While snow shoes may not be completely necessary for this trail as it is so well traveled, the added grip of a snow shoe crampon is nice and it gives you the option to explore some of the other less traveled trails.

Other things to take would be your regular typical snow shoeing gear, water, food, extra clothes etc. and trekking poles do make the up hill a little less taxing.  It is always a good idea to enter the back country with the appropriate avalanche preparedness gear, namely a shovel, beacon and probe.  You can always check the avalanche danger for this and other canyons at the Utah Avalanche website at http://utahavalanchecenter.org/.

Getting to the Trail Head

Pine Hollow Trail head is located up American Fork canyon in American Fork, Utah.  As you head up the canyon you will come to a fork in the road and will go right (highway 92.)  When you pass Mutual Dell on the right hand side of the road you are about .5 miles from the trail head.  You come around a sharp curve and there will be a parking lot and restrooms.  It is pretty hard to miss as the road is closed and unploughed beyond this point in the winter time.  The Pine Hollow trail head is located right across the street.  Be aware that American Fork Canyon is a fee area.

The Pine Hollow trail is not just good for snow shoeing, but is also open to pets, mountain bikes and dirt bikes, so expect some more posts about this trail in the summer.  If you have any questions or comments about this hike or any others feel free to email me at DustinACook@gmail.com, and don’t forget to go out and have some fun!

Posted in Beautiful Places, Great Place for a Date, Greater Provo Area, Hiking Utah, Winter Activities | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Porcupine Rim Trail in Moab Utah – A Little bit of Everything and Then Some

Colorado River From Porcupine Rim Bike Trail

View of the Colorado River from the Porcupine Rim Trail

It’s got just about everything, and then some.  I’m talking about the Porcupine Rim Trail in Moab, Utah.  If you are looking for a ride that has got a bit of everything – gradual climbs, long descents, loose terrain, slick rock, single track, technical riding and in November a little snow – this is for you.

This trail is a favorite ride of hard-core Mountain bikers in Moab, and while it is rated as highly technical, an in shape somewhat experienced rider, like myself, can do it, as long as you don’t mind walking your bike over the occasional obstacle.

As always for those of you who just want the skinny, here you go:

Distance: 15.6 miles, one way (this is a shuttle ride)

Start:  Approximately 5 miles up the Sandhill recreation dirt road

Finish:  Colorado river drive, about 3 miles up the canyon.

Rating:  Technical – expert riders, and those that don’t mind walking there bike.

Time: 3-5 hours

The trail head is marked and has a pullout available for parking.  Since it is a shuttle ride you may want to leave a car where the hike ends at the Colorado river, or use a shuttle service.  If you are really hard-core you can ride the full loop through town and be proud that you rode 34 miles instead of just 15.

The first four miles is a gentle climb to the top of the Porcupine rim.  There are no super steep hills, just a constant incline until you reach the top.  This part of the trail is also a 4×4 road, however motorized traffic on the trail is not very common.  The terrain is mostly dirt and red rock and provides some stunning panoramic views.

Upon reaching the top of the Porcupine rim you get a view of Castle valley.  There are

Castle Valley near Moab Utah

View of Castle Valley from the Porcupine Rim Trail

some great overviews just off trail of the valley and are definitely worth a quick photo opportunity.  At this point you might get some more company as a few different trails, including the Full Enchilada, feed into the Porcupine Rim trail.

Just after passing castle valley you learn why they call this trail Porcupine Rim.  The trail becomes very rocky and technical, providing a chance to show off your technical skills to your friends, or add some bruises and scratches to your quickly growing collection of body art.

Just as your wrists are about to scream, the trail gets a little less rocky and starts to descend more quickly to the river.  It is a fun fast ride to the single track and isn’t as technically demanding.  However, the ease of this section is merely a ruse for the last 3 miles of single track before you reach the river.

It starts out innocent enough, the first .5 mile of the single track descends the mesa and soon you notice that the right side drops off several hundred feet to the canyon bottom below.  Even with the drop off the trail is manageable to the  3/4 mile mark until you start to hit the really tough technical portion of this trail.  The last 2 miles of this ride have more technical riding than the prior 13 miles.

Technical Spot on Single Track

The last 2 miles of the single track offer up some tough obstacles

The last two miles consist of descending several hundred feet to the end of the trail in leaps and bounds.  For the expert rider, it is a playground of terrain that is hard to match.  For the not as skilled rider, it is a bit more of walking the bike than you might be accustomed to.

While very challenging, the last 2 miles also offer beautiful views of the Colorado River and surrounding Mesas.  You know you are finished riding when you hit the tunnel that goes under the highway and spits you out at the banks of the Colorado.

With any outdoor adventure you should take your ten essentials, lunch and plenty to drink, especially in the summer months.  It is also a very good idea to bring spare tubes, a patch kit and a master link with a chain breaking tool.  You definitely don’t want to have to walk your bike out of this ride because you broke a chain.

That’s a brief summary of a great Mountain biking trail I recommend to anyone who likes a good mix of riding.  If you have ridden Porcupine Rim and have any comments please provide them below or feel free to email me at DustinACook@gmail.com.  And don’t forget to get outside and have some fun.

Posted in Beautiful Places, Biking Utah, Moab | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Mount Timpanogos – A Utah County Classic Hike

Mount Timpanogos from American Fork Canyon

View of Mount Timpanogos from American Fork Canyon

It is visible from almost everywhere in Utah county, looming above its neighboring peaks in majestic grandeur.  Home to one of Utah’s only glaciers(technically it is a permanent snowfield) it is Mount Timpanogos.  People ascend Timpanogos year round with snow shoes, skis, crampons, and in the summer with a good pair of hiking boots.

This is a classic hike in Utah County and in the state and can be completed by anybody in relatively good shape who enjoys a full day of hiking.  The mountain can be conquered from trails on either side which meet up near the saddle.  From Provo Canyon hikers can take a slightly shorter and slightly steeper trail that begins near Aspen Grove, just above Sundance Ski resort.  A slightly longer and less steep trail begins at the Timpooneke campground up American Fork canyon.

Either trail offers beautiful views and a journey to be enjoyed.  As always for those of you who like to get to the point here is the skinny on the trails.

The Skinny:

Timpooneke Trail head

Distance Roundtrip: 15 miles

Elevation Gain: 4,575 ft.

Aspen Grove Trail Head

Distance Roundtrip: 14 miles

Elevation Gain: 4,850

Both hikes are out and back and the trail is well maintained.  Allow 8-12 hours to complete the hike depending on the speed at which you hike.

Each hike is a beautiful one, as I am more partial to the Timpooneke trail I’ll focus the rest of this post on this trail, and describe the Aspen Grove hike in a later post.

Timpooneke Trail head

The Timpooneke Trail head is actually located within the Timpooneke campground about 8.4 miles up American Fork canyon.  There is a parking lot dedicated for hikers who aren’t camping, but be sure to arrive early if you are hiking on a Saturday or Holiday as this lot fills up fast.

The hike begins a gentle climb through a meadow until you hit the first of many switchbacks on this hike.  About a mile into the hike you will come to Scout Falls which is short trail that departs from the main trail and offers a view of Scout Falls.  These falls are larger in the early season due to run off and don’t quite disappear later in the season as water levels decrease.

A Moose cow and calf on Timpanogos

A cow and calf grazing in middle basin on Timpanogos

From Scout falls you will take switch backs to middle basin where wild flowers and different animals like moose can be spotted.  As you make your way through middle basin and up another set of switchbacks sometimes referred to as the ladder you will come across several little water falls as the stream criss-crosses the trail.

You know that you are almost to Timpanogos basin when you come to an area known as the “Head Wall”  This is an area where a couple of steep switchbacks cut up and over a scree area.

Late Snow on Timpanogos Headwall

If attempting Timpanogos before the middle of July expect to run into snow around the Head Wall which can make the hike more challenging

Once you pass this area you are only a few minutes from Timpanogos basin, the last basin before the saddle and peak. At this point Timpanogos peak becomes visible.

The meadow provides a beautiful view of the peak above as well as a bit of a rest as the trail through the meadow flattens out before you reach the next big ascent up to the saddle.  Depending on the time of year you hike many beautiful wild flowers can

View of Timpanogos peak with wildflowers below

View of the peak from Timpanogos basin below covered in wildflowers

be seen in Timpanogos basin, it is definitely worth it to take a rest here and enjoy the beautiful scenery below the peak.

In the meadow the trail splits with one trail heading towards Emerald lake and the other towards the saddle and summit.  If you plan to ride the glacier to descend from the peak, you will end up at Emerald Lake and then hike this trail back to the meadow.  If you don’t plan to ride the glacier back, you may want to take a detour to see the lake and perhaps filter some water as you continue your hike.  One caution that most injuries on Timpanogos occur on the Glacier so be careful if you choose to descend this way.

Looking West from the top of Mount Timpanogos

View of Emerald Lake from the top of Timpanogos

As you make your way through the meadow you will see the saddle above you.  Switchbacks will lead you to the saddle where you will see into Utah Valley below for the first time in the hike.  From the saddle the peak is just about 30-45 minutes away.  The rest of the hike is mostly on rock and scree slopes.  This is the most exposed portion of the hike, but can be traversed safely by most hikers.

As you hike to the peak a small steel house will come into view.  This marks the top of the peak and your destination.  Timpanogos peak stands at 11,749 feet and provides a breath taking view of both the Utah and the Heber valleys.

Many people choose to hike Timpanogos at different seasons and different times.  Many will ascend the mountain and night to see the sunrise.

Sunrise as seen from the top of Timpanogos in late summer

Sunrise from the top of Timpanogos

If you decide to attempt a night summit be sure to bring some warm clothes as the top of Timpanogos prior to sunrise can get cold even during the middle of summer.

Timpanogos is one of the prettiest hikes in the Wasatch and is well worth the effort to make it to the top.  Feel free to share your comments and thoughts with me about this hike at DustinACook@gmaill.com, and don’t forget to get outside and have some fun!

Posted in Beautiful Places, Great Place for a Date, Greater Provo Area, Hiking Utah | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Angels Landing – A must hike in Zion National Park

If there is a must hike in Zion National Park, it has got to be Angels Landing.  While Zion offers many hikes and canyoneering adventures, Angels landing offers some of the greatest views of the canyon to be had in a shorter hike.  With that said it is a hike that does have some exposure and is not recommended for those who are afraid of heights.

View from the Top of Angels Landing, Zion National Park
Looking down canyon from the top of Angels Landing its easy to see why this is a must hike for any visitor to Zion National Park

For those of you that just want the quick details, here is the skinny on the hike:

Length: 5.4 miles round trip

Type of hike: Out and Back

Rating: Moderate to Strenuous

Elevation Gain: 1488 feet

Trailhead:  Grotto Shuttle Stop in Zion National Park

Trail Condition:  Sandstone trail, with the last 1/2 exposed to long drop offs.

Trail Description In Depth:

The trail is well marked with signs and begins across the river from the Grotto shuttle stop.  The trail starts out with just a slight incline as you work your way towards the canyon wall for about 1/4 mile.  Once you reach the canyon wall the trail begins to ascend on a series of switchbacks until finally curving around to refrigerator canyon.

Refrigerator canyon is aptly named because it receives very little sunlight and provides refreshingly cool temperatures especially in the hot summer months.   Don’t let the cool air fool you however, because this is where the hike really takes off.  After getting a small break from the climb you will be greeted by a series of switchbacks known as Walter’s Wiggles.  This is a series of 21 short but steep switchbacks that climb up the mountain and it is here that most of the elevation gain on the hike occurs.

The wiggles come to an end at an area known as Scout Lookout.  Scout lookout provides

View of Angels Landing from Scout Lookout

View from Scout look out of the last half mile up to the summit of Angels Landing

views of both the upper canyon looking towards the narrows as well as some views from down the canyon.  There are also pit toilets available here.  The trail divides at Scout Lookout at a sign points to the left for Angels Landing and to the right for the West Rim Trail and Lava Point.

At this point, hikers who are afraid of heights should enjoy the view, while those who crave a little more adventure can push forward about another 1/2 mile to the top of Angels Landing.  Chains are placed along the final part of this route to help hikers negotiate some of the tougher and more exposed areas of the hike.  While a few people have fallen from Angels landing over the years, many thousands of guests make the trek up and back without incident.  The key to this part of the hike is to patiently make your way to the top using the chains and paying attention to the trail markers and other hikers around you.
If you choose to go to the top, you won’t be disappointed by the spectacular view that awaits.
The last 1/2 mile of the hike is the slowest part of the hike, due to its more rugged nature and bottle necks that can often occur at the chains depending on how many other hikers are on the trail.  If it is a busy day in the park, be sure to add a little extra time to complete this hike so you can navigate the fixed chains safely.
Fixed Chains near the top of Angels Landing

Fixed Chains are placed along the last 1/2 of Angels Landing to assist hikers to the top

assist hikers in negotiating the last 1/2 mile scramble to the top of Angels Landing

For those that don’t have an extreme fear of heights but do get a little nervous around them, I recommend giving this part of the hike a try.  Heights make a lot of people a little nervous, and the best way to overcome a little fear is to step out of your comfort zone and try it.  The nice thing about this hike is that because it is an out and back hike if it gets to be a little too much you can always turn around and head back.  Keep in mind that one reason we recreate is to learn to push ourselves and to test our limits, so you never know what your capable of until you try it.

These are my recollections and experience on this hike.  If you have done this hike before please share your comments and impressions below.  As always, if you have any questions, comments or complaints feel free to email me at DustinACook@gmail.com.
Posted in Beautiful Places, Great Place for a Date, Hiking Utah | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Bridal Veil Falls in Provo Canyon, A Recreation Mecca

Bridal Veil Falls is one of the most beautiful and accessible waterfalls in the Provo area.

Bridal Veil Falls

A View of the Upper and Lower Falls from the frontage road

Bridal Veil is composed of two waterfalls, an Upper and a Lower falls that fall some 607 feet from the top of the canyon to meet with the Provo river at the bottom.  The area is open to all types of recreation including hiking, biking, ice climbing etc.

A Little History ….

I find it interesting to know a little bit about places before I visit them as it gives context to some of the things or people you might encounter.  Bridal Veil Falls is no different.

Bridal Veil Falls was once home to the steepest “aerial tramway” in the world  with an average angle of 45 degrees and a maximum angle of 66 degrees.  The tram first openend in 1967 t0 carry visitors from the canyon bottom up to the top of the cliffs where the falls begins, a distance of over 600 vertical feet.

At the top of the falls was a visitor center and lodge complete with a restaurant and dance hall.  At its height Bridal Veil Falls became a premiere Utah attraction drawing visitors from all around the state.  However, the tram and visitor center were eventually closed and destroyed by huge avalanches, the last in 1996 that destroyed the visitor center and bottom dock of the tram.  When you visit Bridal veils some of the remnants of the old tram are still visible

While Bridal Veil no longer provides expensive dining or swanky dancing at its summit, there are still plenty of recreational opportunities in the area for people of all ages and abilities.

Hike Bridal Veil

You can hike up to the lower falls on a short, but at times steep trail.  The trail is only about

Bridal Veil Falls, Lower Falls

A close up view of the falls can be seen after a short but steep hike up

1/3 of a mile and rises a few hundred feet.  The short walk up the hill is well worth it as it provides a beautiful up close view of the lower falls and the chance to bathe in the mist of the falls as the water comes roaring down.  This trail can be found just off the Provo river parkway about 50 yards above the wooden boardwalk and view area of the falls.

Bike Bridal Veil

In the Spring and Summer many people choose to bike to the falls along the Provo River Parkway.  This is a biking and running trail that follows the Provo River from Vivian Park in Provo Canyon to Utah Lake.  The path is paved and well maintained and  makes for an easy ride up the canyon to the falls.  The path goes right past the base of the falls and provides an inspiring view.  The path right below the falls is a pedestrian zone only for about 50 yards so cyclists can either choose to get off and walk their bikes or they can take the road just across the river that still provides an equally stunning view.

Ice Climb Bridal Veil

Due to its unique geology, Bridal Veil Falls is a world famous area for ice climbing.  While

Ice on Bridal Veil

Frozen Ice cliffs around Bridal Veil provide world class ice climbing

the area is closed to most recreation in the winter, Ice climbers can often be seen climbing the face of the mountain near the falls.  Many of the routes around Bridal Veil are for expert climbers only, however, because it is prone to avalanche.

Other Activities

Bridal Veil Falls is part of a larger Park that is maintained by Utah County.  There are areas within the park for people to picnic, walk, fish and explore, including the Provo River and Provo River Parkway.  Many families make use of the park and it can get a little crowded on pleasant summer evening and weekends.

How to Get there?

Bridal Veil Falls is located approximately 4 miles up Provo Canyon in Utah.  At mile 4 their is a turn off for Bridal Veil Park where visitors can park their car or take a frontage road up about 1/4 mile to a pull off that provides a view point of the falls.  This is the same road cyclists can take if they wish to avoid the pedestrian only zone on the Provo River Parkway.  There is also another park just north of the falls called Upper Falls park that provides additional parking and picnic facilities.

To get to Provo Canyon take Exit 272 on I-15 and follow the 800 north to US-189 which will take you up into Provo Canyon.  If your in the mood for a good fun bike ride.  Get on the Provo River Parkway at Utah Lake and ride it up to the falls.  If after reading this you are still not sure how to get there, I recommend using google maps and type in Bridal Veil Falls Utah.

Posted in Beautiful Places, Biking Utah, Climbing Utah, Great Place for a Date, Greater Provo Area, Hiking Utah | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments