10 Family-Friendly Outdoor Adventures in Davis County

Wander the boardwalk trail over the wetlands at Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve.
Wander the boardwalk trail over the wetlands at Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve. Yuxin Wei
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What better time to spend some time with the family than summer? Davis County, Utah, just north of Salt Lake City, is filled with opportunities to spend time together in the outdoors. Here are some of our favorite ways to explore the outdoors with the whole family.

1. Take a Tour of the Shorelands

The 4,400-acre Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve is one of Utah’s most unique ecosystems, a blending of salt and freshwater marshes, ponds, pools, sloughs, and mudflats. Located between the Great Salt Lake and Farmington Bay, it’s a great place to explore. You’ll likely see many of the tens of thousands of migrating birds that stop here each year. First stop at the visitor center, where you can start the boardwalk trail over the wetlands that runs through the bird habitat. There’s also a 30-foot observation tower to help you get a better view.

2. Fishing at Bountiful Lake

You have many choices when it comes to fishing in Davis County, but perhaps none as pleasant asBountiful Lake. The optimistically named body of water isn’t huge (50 acres), but you have the chance to catch a wide variety of fish—including bluegill, bullhead catfish, largemouth bass, rainbow trout, and walleye—in a tranquil setting. Bring along a picnic lunch and enjoy the peace and quiet.

3. Horseback Riding on Antelope Island

You can tour Antelope Island State Park on horseback.
You can tour Antelope Island State Park on horseback. J. Stephen Conn

You can do a wide variety of family-friendly activities on Antelope Island, from hiking and biking to camping. But there’s also a different way to explore the park—from horseback. Before the island became a state park, it was privately owned, which explains how the Fielding Garr Ranch ended up there. R&G Horse & Wagon offers guided tours of the island, starting from the ranch, by horseback. Tour guides are intimately familiar with the island’s history and wildlife and will lead the way. Riders must be 8 years old or older, and the cost is $50 per rider, per hour.

4. Hit the Beach

Any looking for a beach experience in Utah should look no further than Bridger Bay Beach on the northern edge of Antelope Island State Park. The huge, white-sand beach, stretching for two miles along the Great Salt Lake is Utah’s best place to spread out a towel, make a sand castle, set up a volleyball net, skip flat rocks, or take a swim in the briny water. The lake boasts a higher salt level than the ocean so you’ll float and bob in the buoyant water. The lake rarely has waves and there’s no drop-off, making it perfect for kids to wade in the shallows. The beach also offers forever views across the calm water and is simply the best spot in Davis County to enjoy the sunset.

5. Summit Francis Peak

Take in an incredible view from Francis Peak.
Take in an incredible view from Francis Peak. Coty Creighton

Chances are that you’ll be able to spot this peak—it’s the one with the two radar towers on the west side of the Wasatch Range. It isn’t the tallest peak in the region, but at 9,540 feet it’s still formidable. Located about 18 miles from Salt Lake City on the Davis County/Morgan County border, Francis Peak is accessible by hiking, biking, recreational vehicles, or automobile. Plan the trip according depending on the age of your kids (and your willingness to climb). You can access the Bountiful Peak and Sunset campgrounds, or simply enjoy the bird’s eye view of the Great Salt Lake.

6. Take in an Outdoor Concert

On the mellower side of outdoor activities, Bountiful City hosts its annual summer concerts in the park, which runs on Fridays at 7 p.m. from June to August. Located at Bountiful City Park, the concert series features a variety of different musicians throughout the summer. The Davis Arts Council also holds free Sunday night concert series at the stunning Ed Kenley Amphitheater in Layton. In addition to the free shows, the amphitheater also hosts national touring acts throughout the summer.

7. Find Thrills at Lagoon Park

The Lagoon amusement park in Farmington features more than 50 rides and attractions that appeal to all members of the family. When the weather’s warm, cool off at the Lagoon A Beach Waterpark.

8. Ride Bikes Together on the Legacy Parkway Trail

This 14-mile paved trail from Farmington to North Salt Lake is very family friendly—you won’t find many serious elevation changes to challenge the youngsters. You can hop on the trail at Station Park in Farmington, Utah, at the north end of the parking lot for FrontRunner Station. The trail winds around behind the businesses and follows the Legacy Parkway all the way to North Salt Lake. The trail has very little tree cover, but you’ll find some nice creeks along the way.

9. Hike to the Waterfalls at Adams Canyon

Take a hike 1,187 feet up to stunning Adams Canyon Falls.
Take a hike 1,187 feet up to stunning Adams Canyon Falls. r. nial bradshaw

Adams Canyon Trail, one of the most popular hikes in Davis County, runs 3.5 miles up a canyon to a gorgeous 40-foot waterfall that plunges over a cliff. The excellent trail, beginning off Highway 89 on the east side of Layton, gains 1,187 feet from car to falls and takes three to four hours to hike roundtrip. This one isn’t for younger kids, as the first half-mile as the trail gains 500 feet before entering the canyon. But for older kids, it’s a good challenge with an even better reward. The best times to view the waterfall is May and June when snowmelt fills the creek and October when the scrub oak turns red and orange.

10. Canoe on the Jordan River

For paddlers, the Jordan River has traditionally been an underutilized resource in the region. But that’s changing, and the Jordan River Commision has been working to create recreational opportunities on the river. The opening of the Porter’s Landing Boat Takeout in North Salt Lake has made it much easier for canoers and kayakers to put-in and enjoy the spectacular views found paddling on the river. At the facility, you’ll also find parking, a pavilion with a picnic table, and restroom facilities. For anyone who likes to spend time on the water, this new resource is a big step toward easier access to the river throughout the region.

Originally written for Utah Office of Tourism.

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