While Utah is home to some incredible outdoor space and National Parks, I encourage travelers to consider making the trip up to Montana to visit Glacier National Park. I recently did this sojourn myself and was well rewarded by some awe-inspiring scenery and amazing hikes.
In particular, I recommend Glacier as this is a very easy trip for residents of Salt Lake and introduces some remarkable scenery apart from the red rock and sandstone we are accustomed to with many of the National Parks here in southern Utah. There are several direct flight options from Salt Lake International to Glacier Airport in Kalispell, Montana. From there it is easy to rent a vehicle and head to the parks West Entrance to begin your adventures.
In particular, I suggest the many hikes and lookout points of the popular Going to the Sun Road and strongly recommend the eastern side of the park and the Many Glacier areas. Stay at the Many Glacier Hotel and awake the following morning to hikes that you can embark on directly from your hotel. Prepare yourself for jaw dropping snow melt waterfalls and crystal clear lakes.
I especially suggest staying at a few different lodges in various parts of the park to get a sense for unique scenery in each area and also to gain access to the different trails and hiking options. They are well managed, reasonably priced and offer evening lectures from park rangers as well as high-quality dining.
While there were once a recorded 150 glaciers at the park there are now only 25 and it is estimated that by the year 2030 even those will be gone. Therefore, don’t delay, I highly recommend taking the time to make the visit to enjoy the majesty of Glacier National Park. I have included some pictures I took that provides a visual sense of the breathtaking scenery.
While this blog is dedicated more toward outdoor recreation, the vigorous lifestyle, and the various sports I enjoy like hiking, biking, skiing, kitesurfing, I thought to take a post in order to shed some light on Maui dining options or at least what I have learned of dining on the island over my travels.I am the first to admit I am not much of a foodie but am certainly always on the lookout for good healthy food that is also filling and flavorful. I am generally not very price sensitive but am looking for quality ingredients that are fresh and if possible vegetarian based. There is no shortage of these options on Maui. Most travelers to the island come prepared to spend quite a bit of money and indulge at some of the marquee restaurants that are concentrated around the hotels and resorts in Hawaii. The west and south side of Maui have no shortage of such options.Be forewarned, however, that Maui is one of the most expensive places for fine dining in the United States. These menus can be extremely pricey and not for every traveler.Moreover, dining at the hotels themselves (i.e. room service, cafes, or casual dining options) offer very unremarkable food at high prices.
First, let me say I think the best option for travelers is to resist the temptation and eat in.There are quite a few short term vacation rental options all over the island and the vast majority of these come equipped with full kitchens so one can cook and dine at the rental. There are a slew of great grocery stores on Maui including natural options like Whole Foods. There is also a Costco a few hundred feet from the airport in Kahului that has a wide selection of grocery products at the equivalent of mainland prices.You can also find many local items they have included to their inventory with fresh fish options like Opah and Ono. I have seen dragon fruit, rambutan, and various other fresh fruit options as well.I would encourage travelers to stop in upon arrival and load up on provision for their trip.Certainly things like snacks for the car rides as well as breakfast and lunch items can be purchased at the Costco and for many traveling the Maui on a budget this will be a significant cost reducer. (As an aside, the Costco is also the only one I have seen in the chain that includes a ahi tuna bar in the store.)
For those intent on eating out, what I generally suggest is for travelers to spend some time traveling to the North Shore in order to experience some of the restaurants and dining options. These restaurants will be substantially less expensive and offer some incredible culinary options. In fact there is a food culture rapidly growing on the North Shore with smaller, more intimate restaurants that are generally owner operated that offer some amazing dishes.
One enclave of great restaurants is in the Haiku Marketplace.My favorites includes Colleens which offers a variety of options at reasonable prices. The menu can be described as American fare, and the options range from $15 upcountry beef burgers to $30 fish specials. I would strongly suggest looking at the daily special options as the difference in price is negligible but my feeling is they provide daily specials as good as many of the entrees one would find at the trendy resort restaurants.
The Haiku Marketplace is also blooming its own outdoor food scene with food trucks and kiosks that offer some great options as well. Prices are very down to earth and outdoor seating is offered so one can dine al fresco. I suggest this options for folks looking for good food without spending a lot of time on their meal.
The other North Shore options you don’t want to miss is Maui Kombucha, a small hole in the wall eatery that offers raw food options that are true culinary ambrosia. While they are famed for the probiotic drink they brew at their location (claimed to have essential amino acids and possibly even anit cancer properties) I would strongly suggest looking at their food options as well. Look for their Hawaiian Toast and the salads they offer with fresh local ingredients.You also can’t miss with their hearty filling soup options as well.
I also suggest exploring the many dining options that are centered in Paia. This spans the range – from great pizza to locally made gelato to Mexican and Mediterranean food. It is always fun to go explore these options and one typically can’t go wrong as the competition in this small town to attract diners can be fierce. Happy Hawaiian dining!
For those that want to spend some time engaged in water sports in Hawaii, Kanaha on Maui’s North Shore is a great option. Apart from the incredible trade winds that create world class conditions for windsurfing and kiteboarding, the beaches are spectacular and offer outdoor showers, public restrooms, picnic tables and lightly populated beaches.
I would recommend this area for those beginners looking to enjoy some kitesurfing on their trip. While this sport offers a steep learning curve, once you have picked up the basics it is well worth the effort and one can spend countless hours careening along the water enjoying the sport. There are no shortage of outfits that offer private lessons and many are concentrated at Kite Beach. Just keep an eye out for the vans and converted milk trucks.
If you are looking for a break from the beach and on the lookout for some adventure, the Hana Highway on Maui, Hawaii is an incredible spot to visit and offers far more than just sightseeing. Apart from the fact that you experience a very authentic Hawaii in this area, you will have a chance to take a respite from the tourist crowds as well. I recommend the bamboo hike, which is sometimes mistakenly referred to as the “Commando Hike”.
This hike combines the some incredible features including hiking through a dense bamboo forest which opens up to some jungle streams and waterfalls. The hike is accessible right after the single lane section of the Hana Highway with the blind corner.
While I wish I could be more specific to readers, this hike is not labeled (few things on the Hana Highway are) and there is no signage. Therefore, this description is the best I can provide. Please note, it is also across from the rainbow eucalyptus grove off to the side of the road which is generally a spot where many folks pull over, stretch their legs and take pictures.
I would surmise this is about 15 to 20 minutes from mile marker 1 at the outset of the Hana Highway. The bamboo hike is certainly not for the faint of heart but it is not a dangerous or technically challenging hike either. I would rate this largely a beginner to intermediate hike although I would not suggest it to children.
During periods of intense rain the waterfalls on this side of Maui can really be breathtaking and this is a location where you can see several in succession and also swim in the pools they create. Be aware that there can often be muddy conditions so be prepared to get some dirt and mud on your feet. I typically perform this hike in flip flops.
I would also suggest wearing shoes that you expect to get wet. Remember also that the mud on Maui has a heavy mineral content and has earned the honorific “Maui Mud” for its ability to stain clothes a dark brownish hue. Therefore, don’t wear or bring items that you want to protect. I would also recommend bringing your own water on this hike.
A 12-16 ounce water bottle should be enough to suffice given the length of the hike which is about 2 hours in totality. There will be portions of this hike as well that require some climbing and the final push will require swimming through some pools to access Angel Fall which is the final waterfall of the adventure. If you are up for some climbing, swimming and hiking this hike is a must do when in Hawaii.
Riverview Walkway Trail, Ogden Botanical Gardens, and Dinosaur Park, Ogden, Utah.
There are some great outdoor hikes and activities directly in Ogden, Utah that offer quite a bit of family fun. In particular, these include the Riverview Walkway Trail, the Ogden Botanical Garden and Dinosaur Park. Due to the fact that these are all within direct walking distance of one another, it is easy to enjoy all of these attractions in a single morning or afternoon. My suggestions would be to park in the parking lot for the Ogden Botanical Gardens (there is always plenty of parking and it is free).
This is accessible by heading south off of 12th Street onto Monroe for a couple blocks. From there, one can walk through the gardens and enjoy the many flower species and varieties that are on display and fastidiously attended to. I would also suggest strolling through the various tree varieties as well.
These are labeled with genus species and common name information. This is a great place to teach children about horticulture and for them to learn firsthand about the many indigenous tree and flower varieties in the area. The Ogden Botanical Garden is easy to explore and opens up the Riverview Walking Trail which is a biking, running or walking trail that is a double lane asphalt path. Dogs are welcome on the trail and the trail runs alongside the Ogden River. Therefore, dogs have a source of water and one can enjoy the pleasant sounds of running water.
The trail is largely shaded and is open to the public at no cost. As you reach the east side of the trail there is an elaborate outdoor play area for kids with swings, climbing bars, slides etc. There is also covered picnic and outdoor bbq areas. If one continues east along Park Blvd (an easy short walk from the playground) you will reach the George Eccles Dinosaur Park which offers life sized prehistoric giant displays and is great fun and education for kids. This is an incredible offering in Ogden with over 100 dinosaur sculptures on display. Many are robotic and brought to life with state of the art sound. For more information on park I suggest visiting: http://www.dinosaurpark.org/.
n my view the most stunning portion of the hike to Malan’s Basin, is stopping at the summit of Malan’s Peak. The peak provides majestic and panoramic views and is the true reward for making the 2000 ft elevation uphill charge. However, for those interested in the history I would also suggest Malan’s Basin which is a short 20 minute downhill hike from Malan’s Peak. You will know you are there because of the bronze placard commemorating the location.
The basic also boasts a small stream for fresh water for any pets. This water would need to be filtered before it is fit for human consumption. The basin is also a favorite spot for campers and evidence of camp fire pits abounds. From the basin you no longer have any views of the city but can look up to the one towering peak of Mount Ogden up above.
This is easy to identify because of telecommunication equipment and an antenna tower. While it is possible to make the final leg of the hike to Mount Ogden, I have never identified the trailhead. On one occasion I ran into another hiker that conveyed they located the trail but it was heavily overgrown. He claimed that transgressing the trail would require a machete to cut back the foliage.
I am not sure about this but do know that if one has made the ascent to Malan’s Peak, dropping into Malan’s Basin below is a good idea. There are also some interesting tree and root formations. The shade on the Peak is non-existent as you basically stand atop craggy rock but as you make the descent to the Basin you will enjoy additional tree cover.
Note, at this elevation it is not unusual to be almost level with hawks and even eagles and you can spot them as they circle directly overhead.
The most avid mountaineer or hiker would appreciate the miles of first class hiking and mountain biking terrain afforded by the Ogden Trails Network. This network is composed of over 35 miles of extremely well maintained hiking and mountain biking trails. The incredible trails are generally lightly populated and very easily accessible from various trailheads just a few minutes from downtown Ogden. They offer cool shade in the summer and one of a kind breath taking views as one gains in elevation.
The accessibility of this network is really quite remarkable. The trail network is accessible through a series of well marked trailheads that run north to south along the eastern periphery of the city. In particular, one of my favorites it Malan’s Peak which is a phenomenal hike that provides a good uphill exercise and plenty of vistas and viewing locations to survey expansive views of the city and the western reaches beyond. There is no shortage of awe inspiring viewing locations and the hike is a reasonable one for hikers of all skill levels. The hike is also easy to find as the trail is well marked with trailhead markers and signage and is well visible despite moderate growth along the sides of the trail in some areas.
The first time I did Malan’s peak I was not quite prepared for the length of the uphill climb. While was a fairly easy grade in most places it does feel interminable during the last couple of miles of the uphill. The length of the hike depending on your starting location can be around 8-10 miles. I would classify the hike as a morning or afternoon hike and would encourage one to bring snacks and to bring plenty of water (at least 60 ounces) and to don sturdy hiking shoes. For those not prepared for this length of a hike, there are no shortage of stopping points and one can cut the hike short, take in the views and backtrack. The hike begins in a deciduous environment, mostly scrub oaks and shrubs. As one continues the climb and ascends to higher elevations the environment turns coniferous, with towering evergreen trees and the fragrant scent of pine. One will follow the trail that continues on to Taylors Canyon and turn right at the well-marked sign that crosses a short 8 foot wooden bridge.
What is especially nice about the hike up until this point is that you are accompanied by a stream that lightly cools the shaded trail and provides the soothing sounds of running water. This stream is fed by a cave spring up above. You will at one-point traverse almost directly on top of it and this is a great stopping point for views. In particular, this is a spot where one can drop in below the trail to refill water bottles. The water is renowned for its purity and gushes from the cave spring all year long (although I hear does sometime freeze in the coldest times of the winter). I have consumed water from the spring many times and have found it always to be very refreshing and have never had an issue with stomach upset. Moreover, given the purity (I am assuming the waters source is the snow melt from Ogden Canyon up above) I have never once had to filter the water or purify it in any way. Given the high mineral content, it is always very flavorful. As an aside, I have come across individuals with handcarts and large water containers that make the hike to this point simply to “harvest” the water. When speaking to some of these individuals they claim that the water has certain unique properties that make it a desirable spring water. While I cannot comment on that, I do appreciate the stopping point on the way up (as well as again on the way down) to fill up on water for the miles ahead.
In terms of the history of Malan’s Peak as well as Malan’s Basin beyond, this used to be the location of a hotel in the early 1900’s. Apparently, the hotel burned down but one can still see evidence of the structure including the old boiler where the hotel once stood.
I would suggest that hikers make their way to the summit as this is truly a phenomenal hike and the views from the peak are panoramic. Depending on when you begin your hike be prepared for a stunning sunset to the west over Antelope Island and the Great Salt Lake. The hike is dog friendly, has great visibility, and is generally always lightly populated. Spring and Fall are the best times to conduct this hike but I have made the summit in the hottest parts of the June or July and have still enjoyed it. I would recommend bringing a flash light if you begin the hike in the afternoon and also pack bug spray as there are mosquitos at the higher elevation although they are not overwhelming. One other caveat is to keep an eye of for rattlesnakes. While they are not aggressive and will not go out of their way to strike, you are in their natural habitat, therefore, a curious off leash dog could be a target for a rattler in a defensive posture. Please note, it is unlawful to harm the snakes. I would ask that you keep your dog on leash and just keep an eye out for the snakes. You will see them with regularity and I generally spot rattlesnakes about once every other time I perform this hike – so the odds you will see one is about 50-50. Having said that, they are not aggressive and provide ample warning if they feel they are threatened.
I have includes some images from my last visit summer of 2016. This is truly a great day hike in Utah and a hike that will leave you with a sense of accomplishment having made good use of your morning or afternoon.
If you have not yet been to Moab, Utah, I would strongly urge you to put it on the top of your list for a visit. There is a great deal to see and do in Moab, Utah, including the biking, hiking, climbing, rafting and off road adventure.
First, I would strongly caution against visiting in the summer months given the extreme heat. The best time of the year to make the trip is in the Spring or Fall. Given the profusion of activities I would suggest allocating at least a few days for your trip. However, if you are making it a short visit the activity I would recommend that one put on the top of their list is a side by side tour. These may be rented from the various outfits in Moab and will run a few hundred dollars for the day and these tours are self-guided. Most trails are very well marked so a self-guided tour should not pose an issue and most outfits will both recommend trails as well as drop the side by side off for you directly at the trailhead. While I am not generally much for motorized sport, I do think that the 4 wheel drive Razr’s can be a great way to cover substantial ground and therefore see more of the amazing landscape.
There is also technical skill involved in navigating up and through the various rock formations. One of my favorites is Poison Spider which will provide a good mix of challenging climbs as well as breathtaking scenery.
This trail will require the better portion of the day and will get you some elevation as you make the snakelike climb to the top of the plateau. Keep an eye out for white stripes painted on the rock that will guide you along the trail. I would also suggest bringing plenty of water and snacks and a can of tire repair or Fix-It-Flat in the event that you catch a sharp rock and have a puncture.
One of my favorite summertime activities in Utah is mountain biking. There is certainly no shortage of trails in and around Salt Lake City. While I am also open to riding trails and single track or conducting uphill climbs to improve conditioning, I often suggest to riders to experience the downhill with the bike haul at the many ski resorts that offer this feature.
Snowbird offers the bike haul on the tram. Snowbasin offers the chairlift bike haul and lessons for $25 every Saturday. For a $30 day pass, you can head up to Park City, Utah and can ride the Crescent Chairlift which will take you and your bike to the top of the mountain.
There are then a series of downhill trails to enjoy from there. Jenny’s Trail and Loose Moose are always great fun and these trails allow you to really accelerate and focus on your downhill riding skills. I have taken these trails at 35 or 40 miles per hour and have never experienced a safety issue. However, always be on the watch of uphill rides and hikers and be sure to yield to this uphill traffic.
The Park City downhill can be a fast paced experience. However, there are many riders that prefer to enjoy or more relaxed speed. This is also good option for riders as the views from the trail are scenic and there are various lookout spots with majestic views that stretch for many miles. In some parts, the trail does narrow and you will fly by the trunks of Aspen trees within less than a foot. Therefore, have fun but make safety your number one concern. I advise riders to maintain a comfortable speed and to always stay in control of their bikes.
If you feel yourself losing control, slow down and take a more leisurely pace. Also, always be sure to wear protective gear. This starts with a good helmet as well as gloves. I also recommend knee pads and a long sleeve tee. There are many sporting goods shops in an around Park City, Utah that offer a full range of gear at reasonable prices.
One of my absolute favorite hikes just minutes from downtown Salt Lake City, Utah is Black Mountain. Despite it ominous name, the hike is a uniquely memorable hike given the panoramic nature of the views from the summit.
The trail is well suited one for those willing to gain some altitude and engage in a more strenuous day hike. I would not recommend this hike for younger kids but for experienced hikers who are looking for a half day hike with significant elevation.
There are spots of this hike that are a virtual climb and even some short sections where there may be some light scrambling. While there is virtually no shade along the way and no additional sources of water other than what you have with you, I would recommend this hike in the spring or fall.
However, if you are visiting Salt Lake and have the time I strongly suggest it. The views from the summit and along the trail are truly breathtaking. If you are a resident of Salt Lake than this hike is perfect for a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. I would advise allocating at least 5 or 6 hours for this hike depending on your pace. Also packing wisely for this hike is a must. This includes bringing at least 40 ounces of water per hiker as well as sun screen and snacks or sandwich.
Personally, I would suggest that one pack at least 60 ounces of water so that you won’t have to ration water along the way and so that you can stay adequately hydrated.
The summit of Black Mountain is an ideal spot to take a break and enjoy a meal prior to making the descent back down to the base. My preferred starting point for the hike is North Bonneville Drive where one can easily park. This is a dead end street and there is a gate that leads to designated Forest Reserve land. There is a short 2 minute hike that winds to a small stream.
In recent years, the stream has been dry but the dry stream bed is easy to identify and if you take a right at the fork immediately past the stream bed this will provide you with a direct uphill climb that will take you past the Bonneville Shoreline Trail and to the Avenues Twin Peaks.
The nice thing about this access trail is that is very rarely utilized by casual hikers therefore allows one to have the trail largely to themselves. While other trails in this general area are heavily utilized by mountain bikers this one does not lend itself to bikes given the steep grade. Nearby is the well-recognized Bobsled Trail which is a favorite among locals.
The first phase of this hike is a series of uphill climbs and plateaus that step climb toward the Avenues Twin Peaks. There is moderate foliage largely scrub oaks and in the spring the area is replete with wildflowers and grasses. This portion of the hike is exactly one mile. When you reach the first peak you will see City Creek down below on the north slope. You will take the right and head toward Black Mountain whose telltale black peak serves as an identifiable beacon so that one can gauge distance and remaining mileage.
When one reaches the Avenues Twin Peaks there will be another fork. You will take the left side of the fork and the single trail will lead you to the summit. Therefore, these is little risk of getting lost or off track along the way.
The second phase of the hike shall be several miles and will follow a ridgeline to the base of Black Mountain. This third phase of the hike is the challenging segment of the hike with a very steep pitch to the trail and quite a bit of loose rock and shale.
Be prepared for some measure of scrambling in some spots. This last portion of the hike will be about another mile and the scrub oak will turn to evergreen.
Note, if you have dogs with you and you allow them off leash, this hike has quite a bit of prickly pear that can be difficult to spot. On more than one occasion I have had to extract these from the paws of my pets. The summit of the Black Mountain is well worth all the effort with stunning panoramic views that allow one to see although way to Mount Bonneville in Ogden, Utah and you have a clear view of Mount Olympus and even view to Park City.
This is one Salt Lake City hike you will not want to miss!