To the Mountains and Back: 4 Easy Day Trips from Heber Valley

A short, paved trail at Cascade Springs leads to mini waterfalls cascading off rocky ledges.
A short, paved trail at Cascade Springs leads to mini waterfalls cascading off rocky ledges. Scott Teresi
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Tucked against the Wasatch’s majestic mountains, just beyond Park City, quiet Heber Valley is an adventurer’s paradise. Cool mountain temperatures make for comfortable hiking all summer long, and you’ll find over 200 miles of trails to choose from.

Whether you’re looking for a simple walk along the reservoir or an all-day trek up the towering giant, Mount Timpanogos, reaching it’s a quick trip from Heber Valley. After the trekking is done, refuel with some of the region’s best eats.

The Quickie: Cascade Springs

Located along Utah’s famous fall leaf and scenic byway, the Alpine Loop, Cascade Springs is a must for families. The short, paved trail leads to mini waterfalls cascading off rocky ledges, and the area’s filled with interpretive signs designed to teach you and little ones about local wildlife and vegetation. In summer, look for colorful wildflowers blooming along the trail. Note that lower paths are stroller- and wheelchair-friendly and accommodating for all ability levels.

Post-hike, visit hip Spin Café in Heber for inventive American eats that grown ups and kids love. Try the hickory-smoked barbecue, or mix it up with a Seattle BLT, a concoction that adds fresh grilled salmon to this classic sandwich. If you all scream for ice cream, save room for the from-scratch gelato that’s made each day from fresh milk and all natural flavors. Choose from a dizzying array of tastes: chocolate, coconut, pistachio, banana—you get the picture.

The Out-n-Back: Strawberry Narrows Trail

There’s more to do at Utah’s most popular fishing area than catch trophy trout. Go for a hike up The Narrows, the canyon connecting Strawberry Reservoir to the old Soldier Creek Reservoir, on this 12-mile path along the south shore. Begin at Aspen Grove Marina and enjoy cool, high-elevation temperatures as you amble past towering aspens and overlooks of the sparkling reservoir below. Turn back whenever you’d had your fill of the views.

Drive back to Heber and visit gourmet gastro-pub newcomer, Main Street Social. This summer hotspot boasts a spacious patio with views of the sun setting behind the Wasatch Mountains—and fire pits to warm up around once it’s gone down. Try the creamy burrata, an Italian cheese served with heirloom tomatoes and locally sourced oil and vinegar, from the menu focusing on seasonal flavors and local ingredients.

The Stair Stepper: Provo River Waterfalls

Find waterfalls along the 45-mile Mirror Lake Scenic Byway.
Find waterfalls along the 45-mile Mirror Lake Scenic Byway. JR P

Watch the Provo River tumble over naturally tiered waterfalls at this popular swimming spot along the 45-mile Mirror Lake Scenic Byway. You’ll find the falls at mile 24 on the road, but you won’t mind the journey. The Byway is one of Utah’s most breathtaking scenic drives, passing by 10,000–12,000-foot Uinta Mountain peaks, crystal clear lakes, abundant wildlife, and dense fir forest before reaching the falls.

A short trail leads to an overlook, but get up close by following well-trodden paths down to the rocky waterfalls. Brave the cold water—if wearing proper footwear—and hike up this natural staircase as water streams down. Be cautious in spring as strong run-off can make swimming dangerous. Stay out of the current altogether and wade in the calm pools below, or just relax along the water’s edge.

On the way back from Mirror Lake Highway, stop at State Road Tavern in Kamas, a tiny town near Park City, for lunch or dinner. The beautiful space is tucked away in the 1,100-acre High Star Ranch and has big windows with incredible views of the Uinta Mountains. Smoked cuisine’s the claim to fame, and you can’t go wrong with a rack of ribs or smoked turkey. Wash it down with one of 20 beers or a craft cocktail. If you hike on a Sunday morning, come for brunch, and don’t miss the Huckleberry Pancakes.

The Long Haul: Mount Timpanogos

Bag this glacier-covered peak by climbing the talus slopes to the summit.
Bag this glacier-covered peak by climbing the talus slopes to the summit. Michael Jolley

The granddaddy of Utah peak hikes, Mount Timpanogos is the Wasatch Range’s second highest peak—standing at a mighty 11,752 feet. The trail rises 6,000 feet over 12.4 miles, and summiting is an all-day affair.

Get an alpine start to beat afternoon storms at the Timpooneke Trail, about 30 minutes from Midway, and hike past a raging waterfall and up into the open wildflower meadow that overnight backpackers and a herd of mountain goats call home. Bag the glacier-covered peak by climbing the talus slopes to the summit where 360-degree views of the Uinta National Forest and Salt Lake Valley await. Sign your name in the Summit House’s register to denote your accomplishment. While this 8–10-hour trek is challenging due to its length, summiting is non-technical, meaning there’s no treacherous scramble like many other Utah peaks.

Refuel after a long day on the trail with farm-to-table cuisine in the heart of Heber Valley at Back 40 Ranch House Grill. This family restaurant uses ingredients from neighboring shops and farms whenever possible, and is known for indulgent appetizers like ranch house potato chips and chili cheese fries. Order the gourmet Back 40 Burger—you’ve earned it. Each one starts with a locally baked bun and comes topped with beef from a neighboring ranch, and is finished with special sauce and smoked jalapeno bacon cheddar from Midway’s Heber Valley Cheese.

Originally written for Utah Office of Tourism.

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