Hikes with Lower Elevation in Salt Lake City

Hiking in Salt Lake City is a treat for any outdoors lover. Between the Wasatch, the Uintas, and the foothills, you have an almost endless amount of trails to explore.

Don’t let the tall peaks frighten you, though. There are plenty of trails at lower elevations where you won’t have to worry about burning lungs and tired legs. Here are some of our favorites.

Ogden River Parkway

Distance: 6.8 miles out-and-back
Elevation Change: 4,432′ at trailhead, with no significant rise

As it emerges from the mouth of Ogden Canyon, the Ogden River still thinks it’s a mountain stream. It tumbles and careens off large boulders, its banks lined with the quaking aspens and bigtooth maples common to mountain tributaries. But as it enters the city limits, the river becomes more urban. Its pace slows, and the boulders give way to dirt banks. Towering cottonwoods—characteristic of desert streams— replace the aspens and maples. The Ogden River Parkway parallels the river and captures the transformation.

The Ogden River originates in Ogden Canyon, cuts through Ogden, and flows west toward the Great Salt Lake. Along the way, the Ogden River Parkway connects many of Ogden’s most popular parks and recreational venues. The parkway currently extends 3.4 miles, but the most scenic and enjoyable section is the first 1.4 miles, from the mouth of Ogden Canyon to the Ogden Botanical Gardens.

The Living Room

Distance: 2.3-mile out-and-back to Living Room, 2.7-mile out-and-back with Red Butte extension
Elevation Change: 5,000’–6,340′

The Living Room invites a relaxing stay. A man-made arrangement of angular sandstone slabs provides a comfortable observation point complete with several chairs, armrests, ottomans, and coffee tables. There’s no better place to sit and watch a sunset, take in the spring wildflowers or fall colors, or just relax and enjoy a snack. The hike leads through foothill vegetation and offers an onward scramble to a higher sandstone outcrop on a ridge above Red Butte Canyon.

The Living Room overlooks the University of Utah and Fort Douglas, where athletes were housed during the 2002 Winter Olympics. The extended views stretch from the Great Salt Lake to the north to the Oquirrh Mountains in the west, and down to the southern end of the Salt Lake Valley, clear to the Point of the Mountain.

City Creek Canyon

Distance: 3- to 12-mile out-and-back
Elevation Change: 4,370’–5,005′

City Creek has served as Salt Lake City’s primary water source since 1847, when Mormon pioneers first arrived in the valley. No other hike in the United States allows you to be in an urban center, within a block of the state capitol, and then so quickly find yourself following a tumbling creek through the depths of a protected canyon filled with undisturbed wildlife and dense vegetation.

With the 28-story LDS Church office building to your back and the Utah state capitol in front of you, follow a creek through a city park, quickly leaving the city behind. Within 2 miles you’ll be walking in a national forest and nature preserve shared with elk, moose, and mountain lions.

For more great hikes, check out 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Salt Lake City by Greg Witt.

Tanya Twerdowsky
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