July brings peak wildflower season to the high alpine meadows of Utah. What more can make your heart want to sing than strolling through fields bursting with the colors and scents of these wild blooms? Whether you prefer an easy stroll or miles of hiking in solitude, you’ll find just the right place to take in all the wildflowers your heart desires. This post will cover Utah’s 7 best wildflower hikes and walks starting from the north to the south.
Tips for your best visit
Visit at Peak Bloom Times
To ensure the best peak blooms, I use two tools as a guide to help me to determine the best time to visit. First are the dates of the Wasatch Wildflower Festival. This free event offers guided hikes in both Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons near Salt Lake City. The festival dates vary by year, determined by the weather patterns of that year. Second, consult the comment section of your favorite hiking app to see what people are saying about local conditions. Generally, you’ll want to plan for about mid-July for peak blooms.
Observe Leave No Trace Principles
Alpine meadows and trails are fragile environments. Wildflower fields and meadows take many years to establish and thrive. Observing all seven principles of leave no trace will ensure that everyone can enjoy these blooms for years to come, and the ecosystems that thrive off them can stay healthy. Most importantly, don’t pick the wildflowers. In some places, it is even illegal to do so. Stay on the trails, so we don’t trample the flowers. Learn more about leave no trace.
The weather in high alpine environments can change quickly. Always check the forecast before you go and be prepared for rain as thunderstorms can move in quickly, especially in the afternoons. As with any hiking adventure, always carry your 10 essentials. As to what to wear, I typically like to wear a tank top, bike shorts, and hiking shoes. I always carry a rain jacket and long sleeves in my pack in case the weather changes.
In some places, cell service can be spotty to nonexistent; if you are planning more than a roadside stop, do your research so you are familiar with the trail, or better yet, bring a map, either paper or downloaded from an app such as OnX (my personal favorite), Alltrails, or Gaia GPS.
7 Best Wildflower Hikes and Walks
Tony Grove Lake
Opening July 1st with wildflower peak season, usually around mid to late July, the Tony Grove Lake day-use area hosts 6 picnic sites and multiple trailheads. Come up and spend an afternoon enjoying your picnic (no campfires in the day-use area), floating on the water, fishing, and hiking the trails. Dogs are permitted on leash. $10 Fee or free with your National Parks Pass.
Tony Grove Lake Nature Trail (easy) 1.3 miles loop with 59 ft elevation gain.
This family-friendly adventure is just bursting with wildflowers at peak season. The trail is a little rocky and trickier to negotiate for a short section on the far side of the lake.
White Pine Lake (moderate) 7.9 miles RT with 1,391 ft elevation gain.
This hike is the one that made me fall in love with Logan Canyon. You cross stunning fields of wildflowers before you descend down to the lake nestled below Mt. Gog and Magog is the perfect place to spend an afternoon in a hammock in the shade of some trees.
This ski resort offers some great wildflower meadows with top-of-the-world views with a fraction of the crowds you may see at the other locations. All the hiking trails at the resort are free.
Paper Airplane Trail (easy) 1-mile loop with 246 ft. elevation gain
Enjoy views of the valley below, and take in the wildflowers and fun installation larger than life paper airplane sculpture.
Brim Trail (moderate) 6.5 miles with loop with 511 ft elevation gain
A perfect mix of flower-filled alpine meadows, aspen and fir groves, and of course, views!
Big Cottonwood Canyon
The Solitude and Brighton Ski resorts host one of the weekends of the Wasatch Wildflower Festival each year, and for a good reason! There are many trails here of many ability levels that have spectacular bloom displays of many varieties. You can register for free for a guided hike and learn about all the blooms you see here. However, I prefer to always hike one of the local trails here so I can go at my own pace. My favorite trail here is Lake Catherine (4.5 miles) will take you by 4 lakes (if you take the quick pop over to dog lake, too) with a large chance of seeing some moose. Please keep in mind that this canyon is a watershed which means no dogs are allowed (not even in your car) and no swimming or wading in the lakes and streams.
Lake Solitude trail (easy) 3 miles RT with 495 ft elevation gain
Contrary to the name, this hike is popular for a good reason. It’s a beautiful, family-friendly hike.
Brighton Lakes Loop (moderate) 7 miles RT with 1,830 feet elevation gain
Seven lakes in just as many miles. Yes, please. Enjoy the wildflowers among the lake and peak views. You’ll hike through forests, climb rocky paths, and cross boulder fields.
Broads Fork Trail (hard) 5.6 miles RT with 2,041 ft elevation gain
Shares the same trailhead as the iconic Lake Blanche hike but sees a fraction of the visitors. Make sure to get to the trailhead early, and you’ll be rewarded for your climbing with the rushing creek, aspen groves, and fields of blooms nestled under O’Sullivan Peak.
Little Cottonwood Canyon
If you could only choose one place to enjoy wildflowers in Utah, make this your destination. Year after year, the Albion Meadows in Alta, Utah, is just bursting with blooms, not just in quantity but in variety. It’s a rare opportunity to experience these types of blooms with so little effort.
Albion Meadows Trail (easy) 3.6 miles RT with 744 ft gain.
Sound of Music worthy fields with a kaleidoscope of color encircled by the peaks of Big and Little Cottonwood canyons. Extend this adventure by another 1.5 miles to enjoy Cecret Lake (no, that is not a typo).
Mount Wolverine via Twin Lake Pass (moderate) 5.2 miles RT with 2,047 ft elevation gain
This more challenging trail sees a fraction of the visitors of the Albion meadows because of the steep, sometimes loose rock terrain but the rewards of not just the wildflowers but bagging to mountain peaks with views of the Wasatch range and beyond are so sweet.
This iconic peak along the Wasatch Front can be accessed by the Alpine Loop Road (Highway 92) which is 20 miles of eye-popping views via some hairpin turns, but you wouldn’t want to rush this drive anyway because of the views. Recreation opportunities abound with Timpanogos Cave National Monument, Tibble Fork reservoir for paddling away from the summer heat, picnicking, camping, off-roading, and of course hiking. There is a $6 fee to use this recreation area. Dogs on leash are permitted.
Mount Timpanogos can be accessed by two trailheads. Both offer spectacular displays of wildflowers, waterfalls, and if you are lucky enough mountain goats. If you choose to hike past the falls on either of the below hikes you can hike all the way to the summit or here for 15 miles with 4,425 ft elevation gain or 16.8 miles RT with 5,613 ft elevation gain. Even if you don’t want to hike all the way to the summit, I suggest going a mile or two past the falls for the best displays.
Scout Falls via Mount Timpanogos Trail (moderate) 3 miles with 833 ft gain.
Timpanogos Lower Falls (moderate) 2.4 miles with 774 ft elevation gain.
Big John Flat
Most Utah natives haven’t even heard of the Tushar Mountains outside of Beaver, Utah. This is mostly a local’s playground. High above the valley floor up Utah Highway 153 and then 4 miles down forest road 123 you’ll find the meadows of Big John Flat with all their beautiful flowers. The area has dispersed camping, UTV trails, horseback riding, and of course hiking.
Mud Lake to Blue Lake (hard) 8.8 miles RT with 2,073 ft gain.
This hike has incredible views, then you descend through fir forest to this incredibly blue water. The climb back out is hard but so worth it. You need bear spray for this one.
Delano Peak (hard) 3 miles RT with 1,650 ft elevation gain.
Enjoy the wildflower meadows at Big John Flat, then get top-of-the-world views from this county’s high point peak.
Cedar Breaks National Monument
Cedar Breaks is like a mini Bryce Canyon at 10,000 ft. They hold their own wildflower festival for two weeks, typically around the last week in June and the first week in July. So after you enjoy the beautiful hoodoos and rare ancient bristle cone pine trees in the amphitheater at the Point Supreme overlook head over to the Alpine Lakes Trail for fireweed and other beautiful blooms. $10 per person or free with your America the Beautiful national parks pass. (Credit cards only)
Alpine Pond Trail (easy) 2.2 miles figure-eight loop with 196 ft gain.
Amphitheater views, wildflowers, and of course the pond views.
Bartizan Arch Trail (moderate) 5 miles RT with 1.148ft.
Ok, you will see a few wildflowers on this one, but the real star of this trail is the amphitheater and bristlecone pine views, Shooting Star waterfall (it thought this was an overstatement), and of course the arch itself. You don’t want to miss this one if you’re already here. Just keep in mind this is a backcountry trail so make sure you have downloaded an offline map.
Do you have plans to see some wildflowers this season let us know where you’d like to go or if you have any questions in the comments.
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