Magical Grotto Hike

Last year I found a really cool hiking book at the Farmington City Hall in Davis County, Utah.  It has details on over 30 trails in Farmington, Utah (where I grew up).  Even after living in Farmington for 18 years I had never hiked this trail before.  So I grabbed a friend and we went on this hidden gem of a hike to “The Grotto”.  Picture mossy rocks, waterfalls, butterflies and magical dripping weeping rocks.  If fairies are real, they live here.

Farmington Grotto Hike (Steed Creek Trail to Hornet Canyon)

Little Mountaineers Rating: Moderate (around 3 miles round trip.  This hike starts out easy along the Bonneville Shoreline Trail, then as you hike along the Steed Creek Trail it becomes more steep and often very narrow.)

Since my first hike here, I have been back several times and I never see other people around.  The first time I went the waterfall was flowing strong.  This spring the main waterfall was barely a trickle (we’ve had a dry winter).  If you go in the summer the plants can get huge and the trail will seem more overgrown.

My 4 year old hiked part of the way on her own, and I also carried her. My 8 year old hiked this on his own just fine.  I would not recommend this hike for toddlers or preschoolers unless you plan on carrying them and watching them carefully around the tricky/dangerous areas. This hike is better for older kids who are familiar with hiking and being safe on the trail.

My advice when trying a new trail is go without kids the first time, then you can make a better judgement of how your kids will do. For this trail do your research and find good directions because it can be easy to take the wrong turn if you don’t know where you are going.

In the photo below I’m standing right where there is sometimes a big strong waterfall!

Happy hiking!

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Logan Canyon Adventures

So my mom and several of my siblings live in Cache Valley.  They moved there when I was 18 and had gone off to college so I never lived there.  So for the last 11 years I have made the 1 hour drive to Logan at least once a month.  It has been fun getting acquainted with beautiful Cache Valley.  We’ve been able to explore lots of fun hikes.  Here are our reviews of some of the classics.

Wind Caves

Little Mountaineers Rating: Moderate Hard (3.5 miles round trip that is uphill all the way to the caves.  Over 1000 ft elevation gain and not shaded, some drop offs and cliffs.)

This hike is probably best done Spring, Fall and on shady cooler days since it is mostly exposed.  The caves are cool at the top but they are at a slant so you need to hold on to your little’s so they don’t tumble down!  I carried my 3 year old the whole way and had major anxiety as she wanted to explore the slanted caves that have zero protection from the huge drop off.  Not to scare you or anything but I wouldn’t recommend super little kids on this one!  Older kids will do better, but we went on a hot sunny day and my son was miserable, he did like the caves when we finally got there.  Great workout if you are carrying a 40 lb toddler ha ha.

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Crimson Trail

Little Mountaineers Rating: Hard (3.8 miles round trip, steep climb to the top and steep final descent back to finish the loop.  The top is walking along cliffs.  Mostly not shaded with exception to some forested areas)

I absolutely love this trail.  It has some stunning views at the top and walking along the cliffs is pretty cool.  It is however a steep climb and can be hard for the kids.  I carried my 3 year old the whole way and it was a killer workout.  Older kids who are experienced hikers should do okay but there are definitely some dangers.

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White Pine Lake

Little Mountaineers Rating: Moderate Hard (7.5 miles round trip, mostly mild elevation gain, a little bit of a climb at the beginning and one steeper climb when you turn around and make your way back from the lake, mostly rated hard for distance)

This trail is absolutely incredible!  Even if you only do part of it with your family I totally recommend it.  I know the distance can scare most people away, but there are many flat areas and while the lake is a great destination, the whole hike is scenic so even if you do the first mile or two it will be worth it.  My 7 year old did the whole hike no problem besides the typical “when are we going to be there mom??” and my 3 year old was in and out of her carrier.

This hike makes you feel like you are in the middle of the wilderness, far from civilization.  It was stunning when we went in the summer during peak wildflower season, I bet it would be awesome in the fall before the snow comes.  The lake is incredible too!  I seriously can’t rave enough ha ha.  This is a popular trail for backpacking, there are several little campsites near the lake.

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Tony Grove Lake Nature Trail

Little Mountaineers Rating: Easy Moderate (1.2 miles round trip, 100 ft of elevation gain)

This is a beautiful nature trail around the Tony Grove Lake.  Lake loop trails are the best!  This trail also has great wildflowers in the summer.  We did the trail and then hung up our hammocks and had a relaxing afternoon.  You can also bring kayaks, paddle boards, etc and play in the water!  There is a campground right by the lake as well.

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Hobbit Caves

Little Mountaineers Rating: Easy (less than .5 mile, flat, mostly exploring not so much a hike)

This is a funny little area for kids to explore.  It is near the stream and a little waterfall so just be careful with the little ones.

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Canyonlands: Island in the Sky

For spring break we decided on a spontaneous trip.  Our only requirements were that it was somewhere south with warmer weather!  We ended up staying at a hidden gem of a campsite in Green River, UT (more info at the end of this post!) and found ourselves exploring Canyonlands National Park for a couple days.

Island in the Sky district is the most accessible area of Canyonlands so with our limited time we decided to check it out and leave Needles and Maze districts for another time.  I was also super smart this trip and forgot my hiking shoes (slip on Tevas for the win) so I wasn’t going to be able to do any super long hikes.  We ended up getting a great little taste of Canyonlands and can’t wait to come back!

Whale Rock

Little Mountaineers Rating: Easy-Moderate. 1 mile round trip fun trail with climb up on top of a giant sandstone rock.  Great views on top, just watch little ones so they don’t tumble down.

Upheaval Dome

Little Mountaineers Rating: Easy-Moderate. 1 miles round trip to the first viewpoint and some elevation gain with some stairs.

Grand View Point

Little Mountaineers Rating: Easy-Moderate. 2 miles round trip and very little elevation gain.  You are following the trail along the canyon edge so you are close to the cliffs edge.  Definitely keep your kids close to you!  As long as you stay on the trail you are safe.

Mesa Arch

Little Mountaineers Rating: Easy-Moderate. .5 miles roundtrip and only a little elevation gain.  The Arch is a drop off to a cliff so be careful with your kids around that area.

BONUS:

Make sure to stop at some of the many stunning viewpoints throughout the park!

Camping in Green River Utah:

We found a riverside campsite at Lower Gray Canyon Rec Area in Green River, UT.  This is a small campground (11 regular sites 1 group site) all along the gorgeous river with stunning backdrops of this remote desert.  There are no signs or advertisements in town so it seems like it is still a little bit of a hidden gem.  I’m sure it gets busier in the summer, but it was spring break and there were only a couple of other campers when we stayed.

Right next to the campground is Swasey’s Beach, a large, soft, sandy beach area and some day use sites.  My kids had a blast playing on the sand and in the calm, shallow water on the rivers edge.  We can’t wait to come back again!

Green River, Utah is less then an hour away from Moab, Arches NP and Canyonlands NP, making it a great place to stop along the way.

Willis Creek Slot Canyon

As much as I love our National Parks, some of my favorite trails are just outside the parks, down dirt roads, and just on the border of a new strange land.

Willis Creek Slot Canyon is a place you wont want to miss and just so happens to be amazingly kid friendly.  My son still talks about this hike ALL THE TIME!  He can’t wait to go back.  Walking through water makes it fun for the summer heat and it is just outside Bryce Canyon National Park.

We decided to check out this trail last summer on a camping trip to Bryce Canyon National Park during the Astronomy Festival and we were glad we did.

The last 6 miles to the trail head are on a dirt road.  I recommend a 4 wheel drive, high clearance vehicle for any dirt road in Utah because then you are more prepared for unknown conditions.  Can cars make it okay on this road?  Yes, depending on the conditions, but I just don’t like taking that risk.  I’ve been the person in a car with a flat tire in the middle of the desert before and it isn’t fun.  It can be rocky at parts, some washboard, and you make a couple small stream crossings.  But don’t let this scare you away, it wasn’t terrible at all!

The trail head is about 25 miles outside of Bryce Canyon National Park.  The trail is part of Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument but there are no fees or permits required.  It can get super hot in the summer and depending on the time of day you will probably not have much shade (besides some shade of the canyons).  Wear water shoes, clothes that can get wet and dry quickly, and sunscreen!  Bring plenty of water, snacks, and GPS (my favorite app is Gaia GPS).  Have fun exploring!

Little Mountaineers Rating: Easy-Moderate. 2.5 + miles round trip depending on how far you go.  Most of the trail you are literally just walking in a shallow river through the beautiful canyons with minimal elevation gain.

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