We all know how hard it is to find the time to get out and play, so we thought we would compile some of our favorite hikes to save you time in looking for your next hike. If you ever thought there was no peace to be found in San Diego, think again. Rae lets us in on a sanctuary just a few miles from town. While J, a newcomer to Salt Lake City, gives some insider secrets to one of Big Cottonwood Canyons' treasures. Jeremiah ends the article by revealing one of the easiest and most family friendly hikes in the Wasatch. We hope this article will help you, as well as us, to get out and play a little more often.
Sycamore Canyon Open Space Preserve by Rae Costa
When I go hiking, I like to hike the trail less traveled. I take to the trail to get close to nature, to hear the wind blow, the birds’ chirp, not to bump elbows with strangers on an overcrowded path. It’s rather difficult to find even a hint of solitude in a county with a population of over 2.9 million people. Outdoor recreational areas can become quiet congested, especially on the weekends. I have a few places I like to hike that afford me the peace and quiet I desire, but Sycamore Canyon Open Space Preserve in San Diego is one of my favorites. Not only is hiking among huge oak trees, sycamores, wildflowers, and chaparral incredibly peaceful and relaxing, but the Preserve is only a few miles from home and doesn’t draw the crowds as do some of the other trails in the area.
Goodan Ranch abuts Sycamore Canyon Open Space Preserve and together they make up about 2100 acres with 10-miles of hiking, biking, and horse trails. In 2003, Goodan Ranch and Sycamore Canyon were devastated by the Cedar Fire when over 95% of the Preserve was burned. The area was closed for a short time, but life in the Preserve has come back stronger and more beautiful than ever. On a recent hike, I took a lunch break near the charred remains of Stone House, which was built in the 1930s, but burned during the Cedar Fire. I was able to sit undisturbed and watch a Red Shouldered Hawk, a woodpecker, and numerous other birds fly between the trees. On the hike back to my car, I was accompanied by only a cool breeze and a Turkey Vulture circling overhead. These are the moments I cherish during my hikes and why I always return to Sycamore Canyon Open Space Preserve.
Lake Blanche Trail by:J
I am relatively new to the Salt Lake area, this being the case I hit the internet to find info on some hikes I might enjoy. I heard an assortment of good things about Blanche Lake so off I went. For those who don't know Blanche is located at Mill B South in Big Cottonwood Canyon. It is approximately a 6 ½ mile round hike. I have been told that the Blanche trail is actually the Mill B South trail, I'm not big on technicality so call it whatever you like. The word I would call the trail is awesome, the word for the lake is... we'll get to that later.
I hit the trail late fall which meant a little snow and ice traveling; I would suggest bringing micro spikes or some sort of crampon. If you choose not to heed my advice your hips and knees will be sore before the journey ends, I can personally guarantee that. We managed to lose the trail a few times but if you continue heading up you will get there. I suggest when the trail is visible to stay on it. Not for personal safety but because it is the right thing to do. There is quite a bit of sun exposure so dress appropriate and bring sun screen. The first 1 ½ miles is a moderate hike, the last 1 ½ becomes strenuous, the trail starts to weave through rock out croppings just before you summit the lakes. Yes, lakes there are 3. Blanche had a couple sisters their names are Lillian and Florence. I was unaware of that so it was exciting to get more than I bargained for. Once you reach the cirque you have an excellent view of sundial peak. This area would make an excellent base camp for summiting sundial.
I'm going to throw down some insider information that no other website will tell you about this area. I was a bit disappointed when I discovered this info. First, at the top of the outcropping there is a tremendous amount of graffiti on the rocks as well as the aspen trees, I'm sure some day (1,000 years from now) an anthropologist will look at it and say "stupid kids"; which is a nicer reaction than I had. Second, there is a sign that states NO SWIMMING ALLOWED!! This is part of our watershed. Please respect it! I would have been disappointed but the lake was frozen, I wished I would have brought Ice skates.
The last bit of info and also the word I would call the lake, is Man made. I'm sure the lake would still exist if it was not for the series of dams. They have dismantled it so the water can run free, for the most part. I'm sure there is a good piece of history about the dams but I have been unable to track down that info. I will defiantly be hiking this spot in the summer, I'm sure it is amazing when everything is in bloom.
Donut Falls by Jeremiah
If you are wondering where you could take your family on a quick hike or you don't think you have enough time to see anything spectacular on a hike, Donut Falls is the hike for you. Only 9 miles up Big Cottonwood Canyon and less than a mile of easy walking distance from the trail head, this hike is a great hike for families and anyone else who only has an hour or two to spare.
The trail leads up the canyon and is mostly shaded by pines and quaking aspen. You will cross a creek over a foot bridge and then continue to follow the trail for about a 1/3 of a mile to the falls. Right before you arrive at the falls, there is a short drop-off that requires a little scrambling, but nothing extreme. As you enter the small canyon where the falls lay, plan on a spectacular view! In spring and early summer the shallow creek will fill the base of the small canyon, but the view is worth a little rock hopping. When you arrive at the falls you will see the creek rushing through a hole in the rock; hence Donut Falls.
Even though this is a great family hike, some caution is needed. Scrambling up wet and slippery rocks is required to get within a few feet of the falls, and during the winter there is also avalanche danger. Many times I have found myself spending over an hour hiking and playing around the falls. The only downside to this hike is it can be very popular during the summer. This can make this a very crowded hike on the weekends, so if you are looking for peace and quiet, I would not recommend this hike.