Located in the northern part of the state near the Idaho border, Logan, Utah, serves as a base of operations for some of the best hiking in the region. You’ll find excellent trails throughout the Wasatch-Cache National Forest and Cache Valley that are easily accessible for any level of hiker. Logan Canyon offers incredible, picturesque landscapes, and the weather in the spring, summer, and fall make it a joy to spend time in the outdoors. You could spend years exploring the area and still not cover everything, but here are 10 of the best hikes to give you a taste of this scenic section of Utah.
1. Wind Caves
This is one of the area’s signature hikes. Located just outside of Logan along the Logan Canyon National Scenic Byway, the popular Wind Caves feature a triple arch near the top of the China Wall geographic formation, located on the north side of the canyon. The trail is steep, gaining more than 1,000 feet, but it features switchbacks along the two-mile route (one way) to make it doable for most hikers in moderate shape or better. The trail starts about 5.2 miles up U.S. Highway 89, and you’ll find the trailhead across from the Guinavah-Malibu campground. The trail is usually dry enough to hike starting in the early spring, and the views of Logan Canyon from the top are well worth the climb. Explore the small Wind Caves themselves, fascinating structures to see up close.
2. Crimson Trail
This trail gets its name from the fact that it was once the "senior walk" for Brigham Young College—which had the colors of crimson and gold—that the class did upon graduation. The college closed in 1926, but the name stuck. The trail starts about 4.3 miles from Logan at Spring Hollow Campground, which is just beyond Third Dam. You cross the bridge, turn right, and park. Most of the 3-mile trail follows the limestone China Wall along the south side of the canyon, which gets more water than the north side and has more vegetation. Of course, this means it can also remain wet and icy until late spring. The views are great, with Cache Valley to the west, Beirdneau Plateau to the northeast, and a the Wind Caves directly across the Canyon.
3. Riverside Nature Trail
Located in the same area, the Riverside Nature Trail is short—1.3 miles one way—and a good option for those looking for a shorter and less-strenuous hike. There’s still about 500 feet of elevation gain here, so it isn’t easy, but it’s also filled with interpretive signs and some benches, so you can take your time and learn more about the area. You can access the trail from either Spring Hollow campground or the Guinavah-Malibu campground, and you’ll walk through a good number of wildflowers and trees.
4. Jardine Juniper
This nearly 12-mile, round-trip trail is for those looking for a serious hike. You’ll start at an elevation of 5,400 feet at the trailhead 10.4 miles from Logan, just off US Highway 89 at the Wood Camp turnoff. The trail takes you farther and farther away from civilization, so be prepared with everything you need. Along the way, you’ll find scenic views of the Bear River Range, as well as the paths of several winter avalanches. In the spring and summer you’ll find lots of flowering plants and shrubs, and the fall colors are excellent, usually peaking in late September. The trail’s namesake, the magnificent Jardine Juniper is estimated to be 1,500 years old, and considered to be the oldest living Rocky Mountain Juniper tree.
5. Right Hand Fork Trails
The Right Hand Fork Area actually offers a number of interconnected trails just off of Right Hand Fork Road. To access the trails, take Highway 89 for 9.2 miles up Logan Canyon until you get to Right Hand Fork Road. Turn right and travel one mile up to the first junction, where you’ll stay to the left as the road turns to gravel. You’ll find the trailhead .6 miles farther. Once you’re there, you can choose from a number of options, most in the two to four mile range. The Rick’s Canyon Trail (4.4 miles) and Steel Hollow (2.8 miles) are good places to start. Many hikers take Ephraim Cutoff (3.6 miles) to see the final resting place of the giant grizzly bear Old Ephraim, considered one of the largest grizzly bears in the country. His skull was on display in the Smithsonian Institute for many years and is now at the library at Utah State University.
6. River Trail
The River Trail is a relatively easy option to begin exploring Logan Canyon. The 3.7-mile trail has five entry points, with no section longer than a mile and a half and only 500 feet of elevation change. The trail follows the Logan city water line, which is buried beneath the road. You’ll also go past the Stokes Nature Center, which holds lots of kids activities to help them understand the flora, fauna and geology of the canyon. The trail runs parallel to the river, and you can sometimes see moose there. Chances are you’ll see plenty of birds. The first entry point is just off Highway 89 across from the forest boundary sign at the mouth of the canyon. Park at the boundary sign and cross the road to the trailhead.
7. White Pine Lake
This 4.5-mile (one-way) trail features alpine hiking at its best in the highlands of the Bear River Range. Hikers will get to explore stands of fir, spruce, and aspen trees, and the glacial lake among the cirque cliffs and high mountains is one of the highlights. The trailhead starts at 8,000 feet, so you’re up in the sky, but once there, the elevation change stays within a moderate 800 feet. In July and August you can enjoy the wildflowers in bloom. The trailhead is located at Tony Grove Lake, where day hikers are welcome to park for a nominal fee.
8. Naomi Peak
Naomi Peak, which rises to 9,979 feet, is the highest point in the Bear River Range. This trail to the summit winds through a scenic meadow that offers spectacular views all the way to the top. Here you’ll find wildflowers at their peak in July and August, making it a popular time for this hike. At the summit you’ll take in breathtaking views of Cache Valley and surrounding peaks in the range. The trailhead, which is located at 8,000 feet in elevation, is located at Tony Grove Lake. The trail is well-defined, but it can be steep in a few places (and, of course, you’re going up nearly 2,000 feet). Snow banks last into the summer, and a cold wind is on top on most days. Come dressed for a variety of weather conditions.
9. Green Canyon to Tony Grove
Many of these hikes start at the Tony Grove Trailhead, but you can also start at Green Canyon (at about 6,100 feet in elevation) and hike to Tony Grove (8,100 feet in elevation). The bulk of the 12-mile trail is in the Mt. Naomi Wilderness, and hikers will pass Jardine, Beirdneau, and Elmer peaks. You’ll follow the crest of the Bear River Range for several miles, allowing you to view some of the most rugged areas of the range. The trail will take you to just below the summit of Mt. Elmer, where it will circle around and down into Cottonwood Canyon, before going back up about 800 feet to a cold water spring near Tony Grove Lake.
10. Temple Fork Sawmill Trail
This 5.8-mile trail will take you to the site of a sawmill built in 1877 to provide lumber for the town of Logan. You can still see remnants of the road from Logan to Temple Fork from the trail. The mill was closed in 1883, and burned down three years later, but some of the remains of the mill are still there. Apart from its historical significance, the trail offers a very scenic route with about 600 feet of elevation gain. The first 3.5 miles, the path follows the Great Western Trail, the north-south route that goes from Canada to Mexico. At the second bridge, the Temple Fork splits off on its own, going to the left.
Written by Jeff Banowetz for RootsRated Media in partnership with Utah Office of Tourism.