Davis County offers the best of summer, with long days, brilliant sunshine, and the Wasatch Front towering over the Great Salt Lake. A succession of towns spread along Interstate 15 north of Salt Lake City—from the city of North Salt Lake to South Weber—provide quick access to canyons, peaks, and the largest island in the Great Salt Lake. Outdoor adventurers find plenty of ways to fill a Davis day, including hiking to waterfalls, mountain biking along hilly singletrack trails, tossing a fishing line in a still pond, relaxing on a sandy beach, enjoying Lagoon Park and four other amusement centers, and watching shorebirds in fertile wetlands.
1. Explore Antelope Island State Park
Antelope Island, a 28,022-acre Utah state park, is a unique natural area as well as also a haven for outdoor recreation. The mountainous island, reached by a seven-mile causeway, protects a diversity of wildlife, including its namesake pronghorn antelope, a herd of 600 bison, and huge flocks of waterfowl. Almost 20 miles of trails thread across the island’s grassland, offering adventures for hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians. One of the best trails climbs to the 6,596-foot summit of Frary Peak, the island high point. The northern part of the island offers three campgrounds, picnic areas, a visitor center, and a marina with a boat ramp for kayaks, sailboats, and powerboats.
2. Davis County Birding Hotspots
The Great Salt Lake, bordering Davis County on the west, is Utah’s most important birdwatching area, with more than 2.5-million shorebirds stopping at the lake. Birders congregate along the wetlands to see the huge flocks of birds. The seven-mile Antelope Island Causeway is famed for migrating shorebirds, particularly eared grebes and Wilson’s phalarope. Antelope Island State Park offers over 250 species, including great horned, short-eared, long-eared, barn, and burrowing owls. The Fielding Garr Ranch on the island attracts migrating songbirds. Another great Davis County hotspot is Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area north of Bountiful. Look for migrant shorebirds and waterfowl, wading birds and rails, and in winter, dozens of bald eagles. Other good birding areas are Jensen Nature Park, Kaysville Ponds, and Glover’s Lane Ponds with its large heron rookery. The Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve is another great option, with a wetlands area that’s accessible with a mile-long boardwalk, plus a 30-foot tall observation tower to oversee the whole preserve.
3. Hike to Waterfalls in Adams Canyon
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. Don’t get discouraged in the first half-mile as the trail gains 500 feet before entering the canyon. The shady trail twists alongside the North Fork of Holmes Creek, passing a lower waterfall and many cascades before reaching Adams Canyon Falls. 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. Summers can be hot, especially on the lower trail, but it’s fun to cool down and splash in the falls.
4. Davis County is Utah’s Playground
Davis County is filled with options for families looking for a day of fun. Start with Lagoon Park, the area’s largest amusement park, which features more than 50 rides and a water park. The Cherry Hill Waterpark has a wide variety of slides, pool, and lazy rivers to cool off and entertain the whole family on a hot summer day. Boondocks Food & Fun in Kaysville, Utah, offers attractions ranging from laser tag and bowling inside, to bumper boats and go-karts outside. The Rush Funplex in Syracuse, Utah, is Utah’s largest indoor funplex, offering bowling, bounce houses, go-karts, arcade games, glow-in-the-dark miniature golf, and more. Finally, the SeaQuest Interactive Aquarium in Layton, Utah, lets you get up close and personal with a wide variety of land and sea animals as you explore rainforest, desert, and deep-sea ecosystems.
5. Mountain Bike Tracks and Trails
Davis County is mountain bike central for northern Utah, offering miles of trails from family rides to technical experts-only tracks. Family-friendly trails include the 1.3-mile Kaysville East Mountain Wilderness Park Trail, the five-mile Farmington Flats Loop, and the flat 12.6-mile Legacy Parkway Trail, which runs from Farmington to North Salt Lake. Advanced riders head for the hills. The 13-mile Mueller Park Trail from Bountiful is a singletrack, out-and-back classic to Rudy’s Flat. The best Antelope Island ride is 22-mile, out-and-back Mountain View Trail, with birds, bison, and great views. The island also offers the singletrack Shoreline and East Shore trails, and the doubletrack Split Rock Bay and White Rock Bay trails. The Bonneville Shoreline Trail, following the high-water mark of ancient Lake Bonneville, is a fun intermediate ride from I-84 to Farmington. It features both doubletrack and singletrack trail with some hilly sections.
6. Utah’s Best and Biggest Beach
If you miss the ocean in land-locked Utah, then head over to 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 and never sink. 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. The park has showers, shaded picnic tables with grills, a restaurant that specializes in buffalo burgers, and three campgrounds.
7. Rustic Fishing Holes Beckon Anglers
One of life’s great pleasures is tossing a line and hook into a fishing hole on a summer evening and watching the sun go down. Davis County is Utah’s smallest county but rivals bigger Salt Lake County with its eight urban fishing holes. The State Division of Wildlife Resources and local governments developed the fisheries as places to not only catch fish, but to walk a trail, eat a picnic lunch, feed ducks, enjoy the scenery, and channel your inner Huck Finn. The best ponds are 50-acre Bountiful Lake; Jensen Nature Park Pond, a jewel in Syracuse; and scenic four-acre Farmington Pond. Some have fishing piers, are handicapped accessible, and allow non-motorized boats. What you catch is often what’s been recently stocked, including rainbow trout, bluegill, largemouth bass, channel catfish, and walleye.
Written by Stewart Green for RootsRated in partnership with Utah Office of Tourism.