The shoulder season of September is actually a perfect time to visit Jackson Hole & Park City as the weather is still dry and the parks are still open, the fall colors are changing with incredible wildflowers and beautiful mountain scenery. The fall’s wild palette of colors makes these areas a heaven for the photo enthusiast or viewers of nature’s annual colorful spectacle. Be prepared for backcountry hiking with knowledge of the area, water and food, and bear spray for the remote chance of a close encounter.
AROUND PARK CITY
The whole family will love the best in the state wildflowers, the easy and lovely hike to the Cecret Lake holds incredible sunsets just below Sugarloaf. The popular day trail begins at 9000 feet of elevation running west from the campground, it climbs a gentle slope, with about 300 feet of elevation gain and is located right by Albion Basin Campground, you have the option to continue hiking up from this trail to Sugarloaf Peak. Take the time to relax at the beautiful alpine lake in the Little Cottonwood Canyons Albion Basin near Alta Ski Resort and Snowbird Ski Resort and take lots of photos of your family with the mountains as a backdrop. Along the way, there are interpretive signs with information about the basin, its plants, animals, and geology. From the lake, you can return the way you came, or explore the area. Remember, swimming is not permitted in the lake!
Summer is always a good time to go hiking but fall is even better because colored leaves are breathtaking in the Sundance area. Stewart Falls is one of the most scenic and photogenic waterfalls in northern Utah. Hike to the two over 200 feet tall tiers before it freezes during the winter. It is an easy but steep hike through a beautiful forest on the east side of Mountain Timpanogos, you will spot beautiful vistas and little friends along the way. The recommended trail starts at Aspen Grove, along the Alpine Loop Road. Several trails start here so pay attention to the signs. The Stewart Fall trail is a 3.2 mile moderately trafficked out and back and easy to find trail, it is wide and well maintained. And for the adventurous that want to get to one of Utah’s most recognizable mountains, Mount Timpanogos, take the Aspen Grove Trail, which runs 8.3 miles one way, starting at the Theater-in-the-Pines picnic area on the mountain’s east side. That trail is very scenic and passes several waterfalls. Daytime temperatures along the trails are usually warm but it can get very chilly at high altitudes so dress in layers and bring a jacket!
An easy one mile hike featuring high mountain meadows, pine trees and wildflowers takes you to a popular lake with a rope swing. The trail forks at the trailhead/parking lot but the forks are unmarked. Take the left fork for Bloods Lake. The first three quarters of the trail is a light downhill through meadows and patches of pine trees. The last bit is a moderately steep downhill to the lake. The trail around the lake is flat but there is a section that walks across a boulder field. The trail and lake are heavily trafficked towards midday, especially on weekends. There are some great places for hanging hammocks near the rope swing. This is a kid-friendly and dog-friendly hike. Good to know: The parking lot is shared for several trails in the area and gets full very quickly. Avoid parking on the shoulder of the road outside of the parking lot, Police will ticket cars illegally parked.
AROUND JACKSON HOLE
Making noise and bringing pepper spray is not a choice, this hike is in BEAR country. Those looking for a more secluded hike will enjoy looping Two Ocean Lake. Leaving from the Two Ocean Lake Trailhead, you can head around the lakeshore for views of the Teton Range. Wildflowers populate the area, brightening up the landscape and making for stunning views. If you hike this trail in September you might see the sunflowers in bloom. The fall colors are in full swing and are just wonderful to look at, on the southern side of the lake you will be in a dense forest then the north side opens up into more open patchy aspens/shrubby terrain, pretty fun! Due to the wet, marshy nature of the landscape, Two Ocean Lake is a popular area for mosquitos so don’t forget your bug spray! Grand Teton National Park charges a fee to enter that varies by vehicle or if entering on foot, horse, or bike. For more information, please click here.
Fall is going to be your absolute favorite season in Jackson after doing this trail. Taggart Lake and Bradley Lake Loop is a 6 mile heavily trafficked loop trail. Located roughly 2.5 miles north of the Moose Entrance Station in Grand Teton National Park. This hike visits two of the six glacially-formed lakes that lie at the base of the Teton Range, colorful leaves and fresh snow on the mountains makes it a great place for pictures. Make sure your camera is charged! Grand Teton National Park charges a fee to enter that varies by vehicle or if entering on foot, horse, or bike. For more information, please click here. https://www.nps.gov/grte/planyourvisit/fees.htm
Tons of wildlife live in this area, you might be able to see bears, elks, deer and moos getting ready for the winter. Carrying bear spray should not be optional here. Take a moderate 7 miles and only 725 ft gain elevation, out and back trail for the closest views of Phelps Lake. The trail takes hikers through a wooded section, before opening up at the Phelps Lake Overlook. The overlook will place you high above Phelps Lake, with views of the lake and valley. If you are looking to access Phelps Lake you will need to continue another mile down to the lakeshore via a series of switchbacks. In the northeast side of the lake you will find the Jumping Rock, a large 30 feet boulder where people jump from to the lake. Considering that the hike back to the overlook is an uphill climb, relax on the shore of Phelps Beach before heading back.