Top 5 Winter Hikes Near Salt Lake City

Get your hiking in all winter long.

By: Conor Barry

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I feel like I should start this off with a disclaimer. The backcountry in the Wasatch is an incredible place to explore. Throw in “the greatest snow on Earth” and it gets even better. However, with all that snow, things can get a little dicey. Avalanches are a real concern when traveling in the backcountry (they are the only thing that surpass Grizzly Bears on my list o’ fears). With that in mind, please take caution to travel safely and avoid avalanches. Utah Avalanche Center is an excellent organization that puts out daily information on backcountry conditions. Give it a look before you go.

Fact, it gets cold in the winter. Dress appropriately. Wear layers and make sure you have the right gear to get back home safely. Snowshoes, trekking poles, and boot spikes can be helpful for a little extra traction.

With that said, here’s a list of five easy winter hikes in the Wasatch.

1. Hike Donut Falls

Photo: Eric Bennet

When I think of winter hikes, this is the first one that comes to mind. It’s short, safe, and about as easy as they come. Also, it’s not avalanche prone. The road to the trailhead isn’t plowed in winter, so it does add a little more mileage to your hike, though. If you’re the winter hiking type, I’m guessing you won't mind. Plan for about three miles round trip. The trail is used enough that you probably won’t even need snowshoes. Although, if you plan on scrambling up the falls, you might want some boot spikes for extra traction. The falls freeze during the colder months, turning the upper section into an icicle. Bonus: If you’re up for more adventure, head up the service road just west of the falls. It will take you all the way up Mill D South.

Inside Tip: Not up for hiking? There’s some excellent sledding terrain right by the parking lot.

2. Hike Lake Blanche

Photo: Lindsay Daniels

This is going to be the hardest hike on the list. It will also be the most rewarding. You’ll want to take extra care to travel safely in this area as the trail crosses under a few known avalanche slide paths. Make sure conditions are good before you head out for this one. Since it’s at a higher elevation, this area sees a lot more snow than some of the other hikes on this list. You’ll most likely want snowshoes. The trail is quite steep, but the view is one of the best in the Wasatch. Rising above the lake (which will be totally frozen over) lies Sundial Peak. It’s one of the most iconic views on any hike. If you’re up for some hiking in the dark, stay until sunset to watch the last golden rays hit the rugged peaks in the area.

Inside Tip: Grab some comfort food at the Porcupine Pub & Grille on your way back home. You’ve earned it.

3. Hike Twin Lakes Pass

Photo: Conor Barry

This one’s a burner of a workout. You’ll definitely want some snow shoes. You’ll also want to check the day’s avalanche forecast. Make sure you stick to the summer road while in the Alta ski area. They only allow uphill travel on that road. There are a few known slide paths in the area, but if you stick to the main trail you’ll avoid crossing them. You’ll likely be sharing the trail with backcountry skiers as the area is famous for its lines. Once you reach the pass, you’ll have incredible views of Mt. Wolverine, Twin Lakes, Mt. Superior, Lone Peak, and you’ll get a rare view of the Pfiefferhorn.

Inside Tip: If you need more adventure, bring a ski touring set up so you can access some of the best backcountry skiing around.

4. Hike Big Cottonwood Canyon's Silver Lake

Photo: Lindsay Daniels

During the winter, Silver Lake is managed by the Solitude Nordic Center. They have miles of easy snowshoeing trails between the lake and village at Solitude. A day fee is required, but for those looking to get into snowshoeing and winter travel, this is a perfect place to start. The nordic center has day rentals for snowshoes and other gear you might need to get started. The area around the lake is all pretty low angle and mild terrain, making it great for beginners.

Inside Tip: Make sure you bring or rent snowshoes/skis. They won’t let you walk on the trails without them.

5. Hike Grandeur Peak

Photo: Rebecca Jones

This majestic peak lies just east of the Salt Lake Valley. It’s one of the peaks that makes up the infamous wasatch front skyline. It’s also one of the easiest and most accessible peaks in the Wasatch. With its lower elevation and south-facing trail, it is perfect for winter hiking. This trail sees a lot of use as well, so you probably won’t need snowshoes unless the area has seen a lot of snowfall recently. At the summit, you’ll have amazing views of the whole city.

Inside Tip: If you're up for more of a challenge, hike it from the west side. It's a calf burner.

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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph.