As summer’s warmth surrenders to the crisp embrace of fall, Utah County undergoes a breathtaking transformation. The landscape awakens with a burst of vibrant hues, making it an ideal time to embark on autumn hikes. Trails in southern Utah County offer an escape into nature’s most magical season.
Whether you’re seeking a rejuvenating soak in natural hot springs or yearning for panoramic views from lofty summits, this region boasts a collection of trails that showcase the magic of fall in every step. These captivating hikes highlight the vibrant hues, serene landscapes, and moments of tranquility that define the season.
Devil’s Kitchen Viewpoint Trail
Distance: 0.2 miles
Utah County’s iconic Nebo Loop Scenic Byway is a quintessential autumn road trip, boasting captivating vistas at every turn. The Devil’s Kitchen Viewpoint Trail, a simple, easy hike along the Nebo Loop, is a must for fall foliage. The trail leads through groves of aspens, allowing you to immerse yourself in a kaleidoscope of colors. The real treat awaits at the end of the trail—a unique rock formation known as Devil’s Kitchen. Set against a backdrop of flaming leaves and vibrant undergrowth, this geological wonder is a photographer’s dream.
The path is paved and quite short for a leisurely hike to enjoy some of the most vibrant colors that Utah’s autumn has to offer.
Hobble Creek Trail
Distance: 1.8 miles
Hobble Creek Canyon is a treasure of Southern Utah County, and the Hobble Creek Canyon Trail is a delightful introduction to its seasonal charm. The trail meanders through picturesque meadows and dense woodlands, punctuated by the vibrant hues of changing leaves. As you explore, keep an eye out for the dance of golden leaves drifting gently to the ground, creating a scene straight out of an autumn fairytale.
It’s a pleasant trail that’s paved along the creek, which makes it a great choice for families with children.
Grotto Falls Trail
Distance: 0.6 miles
Venturing into Payson Canyon unveils the charming Grotto Falls Trail, a local favorite for autumn escapades. This family-friendly hike features a well-shaded path that winds through a canopy of aspens and oaks, providing an intimate connection with nature’s transformation. The trail leads to a hidden cascade, a serene alcove surrounded by colorful foliage, where hikers can pause and reflect amidst the tranquil beauty of the season.
Fifth Water Hot Springs Trail
Distance: 4.5 miles
Amidst the stunning beauty of Diamond Fork Canyon lies the Fifth Water Hot Springs Trail, a mesmerizing journey through vibrant fall foliage. The trail is flanked by groves of aspen and maple trees ablaze with red, orange, and gold. As you traverse the path, the air is imbued with the soothing scents of autumn, leading you to the soothing embrace of natural hot springs. Immerse yourself in warm waters while surrounded by the serene beauty of the canyon’s colorful foliage.
As it’s a popular trail, there have been reports of trash being left behind by some hikers. Those who want to help keep the area clean can bring a sack along to collect any garbage they may find.
Loafer Mountain Trail
Distance: 11.2 miles
For those seeking a more challenging expedition, the Loafer Mountain Trail near Santaquin offers a spectacular adventure. As you ascend through thickets of aspens and evergreens, the vibrant foliage unfolds around you, offering breathtaking panoramas of Utah County’s southern landscapes. The summit rewards hikers with unobstructed views of the Payson Lakes area, Mt. Nebo, and the surrounding valleys, all painted with the rich colors of autumn.
Some sections of the trail can be steep, so trekking poles can be very useful. There’s also no water, so anyone taking to the trail will want to bring plenty of their own.