For Father’s Day this year, we gave ourselves the gift of outdoor adventure. We bought a hiking backpack, or as Sydney now lovingly calls it the “packpack.” We broke it in over Father’s Day weekend by hiking the Living Room Trail, a right of passage for Salt Lake City residents, a hike that neither of us had done after living here for 3+ decades!

Like everyone else, thanks to COVID-19, our 2020 vacation travel plans were canceled. We were planning to take Sydney to Disney World for the first time earlier this spring. Instead last week we both took time off, took a hike every morning, built a coffee table in the afternoon during naptime (more to come on that soon), and had lots of backyard playtime.

The major takeaway? Sydney loves hiking. Who can blame her? She has two grown men carrying her around, delivering snacks whenever she asks. Basically our modern-day Cleopatra.

We had so much fun enjoying the outdoors. It’s so nice that we have so many trails accessible within a 20-30 minute drive. Salt Lake City is amazing that way. In this COVID reality, we’re a bit spoiled too. Nature is good for the soul. But please, if you’re on the trails please remember to wear a face covering when you’re passing others.

With that, I thought it’d be fun to rank all our of family-friendly hikes:

Ranking Family-Friendly Hikes in Salt Lake County

  • 7. Granite Flume Trail. This would be a great hike for toddlers to walk on their own with supervision. It’s not very difficult after a few steep hills in the beginning. There are a few unshaded portions that could make it a bit hot depending on when you go. It gets a bit rocky near the end and it’s not as picturesque as the other trails we explored in Big Cottonwood Canyon.
Hiking the Alpenbock Loop in Littlecottonwood Canyon in Sandy, Utah
Hiking the Alpenbock Loop.
  • 6. Alpenbock Loop. This hike in Little Cottonwood Canyon would be great for slightly older toddlers or kids. Most of it is easy, but there are a few rocky parts with boulders. There’s very little shade (despite the photo above), so hit it early if you’re going in the summer. If you’re looking for a short (overall it took us a bit less than 45 minutes), but easy-to-moderate hike, this would be a good one for you.
  • 5. Mount Olympus Pipeline Trail. Including this hike is a bit of a “cheat” because we did it before our staycation. But it’s another hike that would be great with kids. It’s a bit narrow in parts but wasn’t too heavily trafficked when we visited. If you’re a dog lover, we passed quite a few dogs on the out and back. Sydney exclaimed “one more dog!” on more than occasion.
Three happy hikers at the top of Neff's Canyon Loop.
Three happy hikers at the top of Neff’s Canyon Loop.
  • 4. Neff’s Canyon Loop. For a short hike, this one can be a “booty blaster” especially carrying a toddler on your back. It’s a decent climb that’s shaded and with a river at the top of the loop. Sydney LOVED the “water sounds” so much that we did this hike twice. Definitely be sure to use the All Trails map or there’s a potential for you to get lost on one side of the loop.
At the top of Living Room Trail in Salt Lake City
At the top of Living Room Trail.
  • 3. Living Room Trail. The hike that started it all (and sort of another “cheat” for including here because we did it on Father’s Day weekend). Definitely start early. Very little shade and it gets hot. But it’s so worth it. The views of the Salt Lake Valley are amazing and the “furniture” at the top is a fun addition. Lots of dogs here too. It’s no wonder this is a must-do for any Salt Lake City hiker.
Two dads with daughter at Lake Mary in Big Cottonwood Canyon
Made it to Lake Mary.
  • 2. Lake Mary. This was the last hike of our staycation and it was worth it. It was BUSY. There were lots of beautiful wildflowers. The view of the lake at the top is beautiful. The hike is a bit steep in the beginning, but there is shade and becomes less of an incline after the first half. We even saw a moose, which was a highlight for Syndey of course. The only complaint here was that because it was so busy, it would’ve been nice if more people had considered wearing face coverings.
The view from the top of Lower Mill B North Fork Trail in Big Cottonwood Canyon.
The view from the top of the North Fork Trail in Big Cottonwood Canyon. Not too shabby.
  • 1. Lower Mill B North Fork Trail. We hit this trail early on a weekday, so we had very few other hikers. It had it all: a river, shade, good climbs, and a beautiful overlook. This was a great hike. Because we went early, it was actually a bit cool by the river and can imagine it cooling off quite a bit late at night or in fall months. But this is an awesome hike.

Hopefully we’ll get a bit more hiking in this summer and can revisit these rankings then. Until then, happy hiking!

Any recommendations for us on Utah family-friend trails (or at least those welcoming of a “packpack”!) we should check out? We’d love to hear them!