The 6 Most Adventurous Family Friendly Trails in Utah

Sometimes we hear “family friendly” and think it means a simple nature walk along a paved trail. That is not what these six trails are. These trails are the family friendly trails that will make your kids AND you feel like you are really adventuring together!

These trails would also be good for families that are new to hiking and want to work their way up to the harder trails.

Each hike on this list had to meet the following criteria:

  • 1-2 miles round trip (not too long, but not too short)
  • no switch backs
  • dirt trail (not paved)
  • partial shade
  • something big to impress the littles (aka: waterfall, lake, dinosaur tracks, etc.)

*We made this list pretty specific in order to help parents with young kids find exactly what they are looking for. If your family can handle more than this, maybe you should check out the other family trails on Wanderookie like Stewart Falls, Donut Falls  or the Utah Hot Springs hike.

The title says it all! You need to check these out!

If you like the idea of crossing a rushing river via narrow tree trunks and a thundering waterfall finale - this trail is for you. Perfect short adventurous trail for families, dates or youth groups!

1. Grotto Falls: If you like the idea of crossing a rushing river via narrow tree trunks and a thundering waterfall finale – this trail is for you. This is my favorite family friendly trail in Utah hands down! The whole hike you have to cross these tree trunk bridges that will make you feel like Calvin and Hobbes out on one of their explorations! Some will ignore this trail because of the length, but that would be a big mistake! The Grotto is a secret gem located right next to Payson, Utah that is about one mile round trip. For more trail info click here.

20 Reasons to Hike Battle Creek Falls! This hike is short and sweet for both families and outdoor enthusiasts!

2. Battle Creek: Battle Creek Falls is a short-and-sweet hike with a big waterfall payoff at the end! Your kids can stand right under the waterfall if they want to. This hike also has some great views of Utah Lake at the top of the waterfall! I can’t list all the reasons to hike this trail here, but check out our post on ’20 Reasons to Hike Battle Creek Falls’ for more details! Located near Pleasant Grove, Utah, and only one mile round trip.

Skip the crowds at Stewart Falls and try Timp Falls instead! This short hike is located one mile up the Timp Summit hike! More details on Wanderookie.com

3. Timp Falls: Timp Falls is located near Provo, Utah. The trailhead begins next to the extremely popular Stewart Falls trailhead, so it is often overlooked. However, this trail is 1.5 miles shorter than Stewart Falls! This hike also has a beautiful cascading waterfall and amazing canyon views. It does have a bit of old crumbled pavement on a portion of the trail, but I chose to add it to the list since it is not being up-kept. For more info on this trail, click here.

The Red Cliffs Utah campgrounds is home to natural water slides and swimming holes, dinosaur tracks, Native American archeological sites and more!

4. Silver Reef Trail: Have a kid obsessed with dinosaurs? Silver Reef trail at Red Cliffs Recreation Area is a dinosaur-track trail located near Leeds, Utah. The Silver Reef trail is not a mile long by itself, but if you are visiting Red Cliffs anyway, you will want to check out their Red Reef trail (swimming holes and small waterfalls) and Native American archeological trail too! Each trail is about a quarter mile long and you can choose to stay at Red Cliffs and camp or use one of their day use parking spots! This place will become your all in one place camping destination! For more info click here.

The Secret Treasure of Zion National Park: Canyon View Trail! Also, How to do Zion in a Day!

5. Canyon Overlook Trail in Zion: If you want your kids to see a breathtaking view of Zion (without the Angel’s Landing switch-backs), view parkouring mountian goats or trek across cliff-side bridges – this is the trail for you! This family friendly trail is the secret treasure of Utah Zion National Park! It’s my favorite family hike in Zion. For more details click here.

1280px-Cecret_Lake_Panorama_Albion_Basin_Alta_Utah_July_2009

6. Cecret Lake: I haven’t been up Cecret Lake yet, but it is an extremely popular family friendly trail. The lake is known for it’s beautiful water and the wildflowers that blossom around it. This 1.5 mile hike is located at the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon road. For more trail info click here. *Update: Some commenters have let us know that this hike is popular for families, but it does have some switch backs at the very end! Keep that in mind if you choose this hike! If this is a deal breaker…check out Lisa Falls or Hidden Falls instead! Hidden Falls shown below.

Hidden Falls is the perfect micro trail adventure for a rainy day, busy day or a day with a toddler.

Honorable mention goes to a recent hike we discovered called the Buffalo Peak trail! Finally, a kid friendly summit trail! Read more about it by clicking here. (The photo below is a preview of the Buffalo Peak trail!)

Buffalo Peak trail in Utah is a triple threat trail! Absolutely breathtaking and with three different access points, it can be a longer adventure or a kid-friendly adventure!

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A photo posted by @wanderookie on

Think we missed a trail? Let us know in the comments! Don’t forget to follow us so you never miss a hike!

Comments

  1. Sam says

    Are these trails easy enough to do carrying a baby in a baby carrier on your back?

    They all look great, and I’m definitely excited to try some of them.

    • wADMIN says

      Yes – Grotto falls does take a little bit of careful stepping when crossing the log bridges (see the bridge pic in the Grotto post), but it was quick and easy with Riley (on a front-carry). I hope you like them! -Zach

    • Jennette says

      I hiked to the Grotto 39 weeks pregnant and not because I was some super athletic preggo. It’s very doable.

    • wADMIN says

      Hey Sheri! If you click through to the posts, you will see a dog friendly category for each of these hikes. That will tell your if the trail is dog friendly or not. :)

  2. Kelly says

    There is an awesome hike in Sandy. It’s off Wasatch Blvd called the Rocky Mouth Trail. The trailhead is literally locked in between to mansions in the hills above Pepperwood, but it opens up into a surprisingly private and fun hike. There is a waterfall at the top with a nice, flat, shallow area for the kids to play around in the water. I would guess it’s about a mile round trip. I highly recommend it and remember doing it as a kid and even brought my kids back to do it last summer.

      • Angela says

        We like Rocky Mouth trail too! Nice short hike close by. My newly turned 4 year old had no problems making it on her own with just a hand hold.

        • Cindi says

          Yes! We just hiked there on Sunday. I carried my 18 month old and my 3 year old daughter had no problem walking the entire distance. Beautiful waterfall!

    • Michelle says

      We just did this hike last week. It is a beautiful short hike that gets very challenging if you choose to keep going up the trail into some rocks. We have a 5 year old who can handle the walk fine but she insisted on hopping up the rocky trail and there was a lot of loose gravel on steep ground- not a great combination. That being said it is a GREAT short hike. Have the kiddos wear long pants to protect them from scraping their legs when they slip and you are good to go. Thank you for this fantastic blog!! I just found several new areas I want to explore this weekend and I’ve just read 4 entries!

      • wADMIN says

        Thanks for commenting Michelle! Which hike did you do out of these 6? And I am glad you are finding new places to explore!

  3. Gary says

    The Grotto Falls are my favorite also, but with all the talk you forgot to add Stewart Falls and a picture with it.

    • wADMIN says

      Hey Gary! As stated in the post, all of these hikes had to meet really specific requirements, one of which was a length of 1-2 miles round trip. Stewart Falls is listed in our family friendly section on Wanderookie, but it did not make this list due to the length. This list really caters to those with young kids (but not young enough to carry). I agree that Stewart Falls is definitely an amazing hike! One of my favorites!

  4. Linda Westover says

    Cecret Lake is beautiful and worth the climb, but I do not consider it little children friendly. The last climb up to the lake is steep and along a rocky hillside. The kids may make it up fine, but I’ve seen many a kid get going too fast on the way down and collect a lot of scrapes when they stumble. Children 5 or 6 years old are usually okay with it.
    It is also good to make sure the snow is at least mostly gone from the area before going up for the hike.

    • wADMIN says

      Thanks for the tips Linda! As stated in the post, I have not hiked Cecret Lake yet, but it is so popular among families in Utah that I felt it should be added. When we do hike Cecret Lake I will be sure to take a picture of that steep part for our readers!

      • Angela Smith says

        Just to add to Linda’s comment, and also because it is listed on your criteria, the last section up to Cecret Lake is quite steep with switchbacks to manage the climb. Many adults hack and wheeze on it…the kids, actually, tend to do better… So, with that, it doesn’t really make the cut. People would be surprised how difficult it can be, yet it is still a very fun hike (just take breaks when you need to) and LOTS to explore off trail. The wild flowers are phenomenal when you catch them the last couple of weeks in July. One of my favorites for sure, but I just wanted to give readers more info so they are not caught off guard.

        • wADMIN says

          Oh! Good to know Angela! Like I said, that is the only one I have not hiked so I didn’t know it had actual switch backs! (I had heard it was steep at the very end, but I was thinking like Battle Creek Falls.) I’ll add an update to the description!

    • wADMIN says

      Hey Mark! We actually featured that hike on our “The 5 Most Unique Waterfalls in Utah” post. This list is just for family hikes suitable for young children. In the post it talks about how each hike is only 1-2 miles long round trip. Otherwise, I would totally agree because I love Calf Creek Falls!

    • wADMIN says

      Hey Kate! That’s good to know! Last time I tried to hike Lake Mary, I was told it was practically dry. Maybe it was the season?

      • Sandra says

        We hiked Lake Mary last weekend and it was full of water and quite beautiful. Our 4yo walked the whole way and our 17 mo loved being in the carrier.

        • wADMIN says

          That is so surprising! Guess you can’t trust everyone you meet :/. I will have to re-add it to our list!

  5. Joann Stephens says

    Years ago I hiked from the top of rock canyon behind y mtn and came out the canyon on tbe soutb side of y mtn. Is tbat Buffalo? It was gorgeous with hip high ferns and tons of wildflowers.

  6. Tina H says

    Are there any trails that a person in wheel chair can get to?? I’m also a photographer and would love to get some photo ops.

  7. Amy Benson says

    I was just wondering if the Rocky Mountain Waterfall and the Rocky Mouth Trail are the same thing? By the way, WONDERFUL blog! Very helpful!!

    • wADMIN says

      Sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you! To answer your question: I don’t think so. We personally haven’t hiked a ‘Rocky Mountain Waterfall’ yet, but the sign at the trailhead at this location says ‘Rocky Mouth.’ Hope this helps!

  8. Jackie says

    Lower Bells Reservoir in Sandy is also a beautiful hike with littles and one of our family favorites.

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