About an hour and 20 minutes north of Salt Lake City and home to Utah State University, Logan is one of the best-kept secrets among America’s outdoor lovers. Tucked into the stunningly green and peaceful Cache Valley, Logan offers every imaginable outdoor adventure, from fishing and kayaking in the bubbling whitewaters of Logan River to scaling the walls of Logan Canyon, hiking to natural wonders like the Wind Caves or soaking in the healing minerals of Crystal Hot Springs. Here’s a rundown of seven unbeatable fresh air activities that make Logan special:
1. Kayaking and Whitewater Rafting
Not for the faint-hearted, the 9.5-mile journey down Logan River is the perfect morning pick-me-up for seasoned floaters. Launching from Ricks Spring, about a 25-minute drive from Logan, to the takeout point at Preston Valley Campground, about 10 miles outside of town, you’ll paddle through gentle Class II glass and Class V pinball-style rapids in this stretch of river. Of course, there are also the calmer sea kayaking and canoeing options on the pristine, turquoise waters of Bear Lake, less than an hour’s drive from Logan.
You don’t have to venture far to take in the sweeping panoramas of the valley from higher elevation. While the challenge of Naomi Peak (the highest point in the Bear River mountain range that tops out just under 10,000 feet) is alluring along with the glistening serenity of Tony Grove glacial lake, the closest, jaw-dropping destination to reach on foot is the Wind Caves. The trail starts about 12 minutes up Logan Canyon and takes you 1,100 feet—consistently upward—toward the end point of the three-mouthed cave (picture a small cave with a couple of skylights), formed thousands of years ago. Also bearing the name Witch’s Castle, local folklore paints a tale of a witch that occasionally appears among the three arches of the limestone cave.
3. Cycling and Mountain Biking
There is nothing quite like exploring a canyon on two wheels and Cache County offers dozens of miles of unique paved and dirt routes. Of course, blazing up and down Logan Canyon on skinny tires is one choice, although you have to share the road with lots of drivers enjoy the same views you are. A challenging ride with less traffic for roadies is the 50-mile, out-and-back route through Blacksmith Fork Canyon south of town. Among the easier mountain bike rides is the out-and-back route in Green Canyon. Living up to its name, especially in the spring when the myriad of flora and fauna are in bloom, this 3.5-mile trail meanders gradually uphill along a fairly smooth singletrack and turns back at the Mt. Naomi Wilderness area.
The camping options in and around Logan run the gamut from stark backpacking opportunities atop canyon walls to yurts on Beaver Mountain. There are a handful of free camping spots in Logan Canyon as well as numerous organized campgrounds with picnic tables and basic facilities. You can also camp at Hyrum State Park, about a 15-minute drive south of Logan. Sites are scattered along the beaches of the sizeable Hyrum Reservoir, where you can spend your time fishing or paddling the expansive shorelines. For those who like to camp in a solidly enclosed space, the yurt at Beaver Mountain can accommodate large groups and comes with carpet to cushion your slumber.
5. Rock Climbing
Logan Canyon is a treasure chest for climbers, with its limestone walls offering a bounty of natural features—at least 50 popular climbing areas. In total, there are about 500 known ways to scale the canyon’s walls. On any given weekend, you’ll find climbers in the canyon, but there are more than enough routes to allow you to find your own private piece of wall. Many of the canyon’s climbs reach hidden caves, buttresses, and rock formations that simply cannot be seen up close any other way. Most of the climbing areas carry colorful names—Promised Land, China Wall, Kentucky Fried Penguin, and Cliffs of Insanity, to name a few. Even the more generically named Practice Walls (there are two) feature routes with inviting monikers like Farewell to Arms and Well-Hung Start. The Crag has a list of most known routes.
Rife with blue ribbon-rated trout fishing, Logan River offers 30 miles of easily accessible fly-fishing opportunities. The river’s First, Second and Third Dams are stocked with rainbow trout every summer and the upriver sections are flourishing with wild Cutthroat and Brown Trout. There is record of a Brown Trout weighing in at nearly 38 pounds caught on the lower river. Autumn is the ideal time for Browns, as it coincides with their spawning period. Dozens of fishing holes in creeks, ponds, lakes, and reservoirs lie within 10 miles of Logan, including Wellsville Reservoir and Skylar’s Pond. Traveling a bit farther to Tony Grove or Bear Lake is worthwhile for fishermen and women who want to make a multi-day trip out of camping, fishing, and boating. A guide to some of Cache Valley’s famed fishing spots can be found here.
7. Hot Springs
Soaking up the beauty of Logan’s scenery doesn’t always require various forms of strenuous movement or racing heart rates. Simply soaking is another of the area’s rare treats, as a handful of natural hot springs lie within an hour’s drive of Logan. The closest of these are Crystal Hot Springs, less than a half-hour away, surrounded by a panorama of Wasatch peaks. The waters of Crystal’s hot spring flow from 8,000 feet below ground and contain more minerals than any hot spring in the world, including healing resources such as Magnesium, Lithium, Calcium, and Sulfate. The hot spring feeds Crystal’s enormous soaker pool and three hot tubs while a cold spring feeds the venue’s Olympic-sized pool. The springs are popular with families and also feature a pair of 365-foot-long water slides.
Written by RootsRated Media for Utah Office of Tourism.