Utah is known for having the, “Greatest Snow on Earth” and we’ve been having a blast this winter showing our boys some of our favorite things to do in the mountains besides skiing. Even though the temps may be colder, as long as you’re prepared to go hiking in the winter it’s a treat to see your favorite trails become new again covered with fresh snow. Plus you’ll have less crowds and no bugs, which for us is always a win! 😉 Whether we are trekking down icy trails headed to a frozen waterfall or snowshoeing in the back country, we always find a way to make our adventures close to home just as special as our far away excursions. Here are some of our top tips for hitting the trails during the winter with kids in tow and some of our favorite frozen waterfalls to check out along the way!
Since the days are shorter and colder, instead of early morning hikes like we do in the summer we aim for mid day hikes when it’s warmest out so we can hopefully catch some sun at the same time. We also shorten our mileage so they aren’t exposed to the frigid cold as long. While my kids can stay out practically all day in the warmer months, in the winter i’m lucky to get a few hours and miles out of them. Bring hand warmers to shove in boots and gloves when its below freezing to keep their hands and feet extra toasty and don’t forget to layer up!
We bring sleds to put the kids in so we can explore more back country terrain where we are surrounded by deeper snow. It makes it easier for us and turns it into a game for them! Our three year old thinks this is the coolest thing ever right now to hike up the mountain and sled down it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him smile so much! 🙂
Make a fire! The boys love watching their daddy build fires so we can have lunch and warm up during our adventure and they always try to help him. We’re definitely raising little mountain men! Bonus – bring a thermos with some hot chocolate to warm up inside and out!
Most people associate hiking to a waterfall as a summertime activity, but seeing them frozen and covered in ice during the winter is a whole new experience. Here are some of our favorite frozen waterfalls we hike to in Utah County.
Bridal Veil Falls, Provo Canyon – While this trail can be overcrowded with people during the spring and summer months, in the winter you get way less crowds. The trail from the parking lot is paved and accessible for wheelchairs and strollers to get to the bottom of the falls so people of all abilities can enjoy them. Then from the base of the waterfall there is a dirt trail that leads to the upper section of the falls; this is a steep trail with loose rock but only a quick 5 minute climb to see the giant icicles hanging from the cliffs up close. This was just 1 mile round trip from the car to the upper falls.
Battle Creek Falls, American Fork – This trail is a gradual incline to the waterfall and in the winter it can be icy and slick so make sure to have microspikes on your shoes and poles for extra balance and support! This is a quicker easier trail to do with kids and is also only about a mile round trip.
Grotto Falls, Payson Canyon – This is a favorite repeat hike for my kids during the summer since it is close to home and a short + sweet trail. But in the winter months the gate to Payson Canyon is closed so this will add some extra miles to your hike turning a .6 mile hike into 5.6 miles round trip. Bring microspikes for the ice and snow and sleds to pull your kids around the trail so you can make a day adventure of it!
Stewart Falls- This trail is pretty packed down with lots of snow and is a more challenging, longer hike to get to the waterfall and we did use snowshoes. But the scenery and views along the way make it feel like you are in a magical winter wonderland. I felt like I was walking around in Narnia because it looked just like the movie, “The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe”
While it is a lot of work to take our kids out during the winter (and sometimes it feels like it takes us longer to get the kids dressed than how long we are actually outside for) but it’s always worth it once we get out. We are all happier people outside even on a cold January day!
On to our next adventure!