Little Mountaineers Rating: Easy Moderate (1.3 mile loop, 550ft elevation change, some steep climb. Not always accessible during the winter, snow/ice will require extra equipment/precaution and will bump my rating up to Moderate during those conditions)
Rim Trail (Sunrise to Sunset):
Little Mountaineers Rating: Easy (1 mile round trip, paved mostly flat. Not always accessible during the winter, snow/ice will require extra equipment/precaution)
I’m not the biggest fan of winter, I’ll admit it. My 6-year-old went on a snowshoeing field trip this winter and loved it, which got me thinking that maybe some winter hiking wouldn’t be too bad. So in February we decided to try some winter hiking and it was a big hit. I’m actually looking forward to next winter and trying out some more winter hiking and snowshoeing.
Here in Utah, winter can mean terrible air quality. We can get inversions that last for days and weeks. Pair that with freezing cold temperatures and you might as well hibernate for the winter! Luckily once you get out of the valley you can reach some clear air and sunny skies. During a particular bad week in February we decided to ditch the inversion for the weekend and head south for an adventure to Bryce Canyon National Park and Escalante.
It was sunny, the air was clear, and temperatures during the day were 50’s and 60’s. It felt amazing!
Hiking on snow can be tricky. You definitely need snow boots or winter hiking boots. These need to have good tread and they also need to be warm and waterproof, especially for kids to keep them comfortable. You can use spike attachments to add to your shoes or use snowshoes and skis depending on where you go as well. A beautiful sunny day may get you excited for some hiking, but it brings its own risks. Warmer temps and sunshine can make it harder to navigate snow making it more slick and slippery. So when you attempt any winter hiking, please be careful! It is also important to remember hydration and even sunscreen in the winter, sometimes we forget these things since it isn’t summer but they are still important!
Bryce Canyon was absolutely breathtaking in the winter. I can’t wait to go back, and also go visit in the warmer months too. Not all the hiking trails are completely open, so you kind of just have to be flexible. We hiked parts of the Rim trail that was open and also parts of the Navajo trail. I only did the part of the Navajo trail with my 6-year-old though, I didn’t feel quite comfortable enough to bring my 2-year-old down the icy decent. I felt like Bryce Canyon was really kid friendly in general, however winter hiking isn’t probably the best for beginners. My kids did really great overall, but they have quite a bit of experience. In the late spring and summer when the snow melts there will be more kid friendly hiking options with several easy and moderate trail options. The viewpoints are breathtaking, I’m glad we made the trip this winter. I consider Bryce Canyon a must see if you ever come visit Utah, or if you live in Utah and haven’t ever been then you really need to visit!