Last month I wrote about the Bonneville Shoreline Trail and what a valuable community asset it has become. This month we feature a milestone in the development of Weber County's urban trail system.
In a similar vein, I would like to highlight some favorite local springtime hikes, many of which are accessed by the Bonneville Shoreline Trail.
Many of the higher-elevation hikes can be covered in snow until summer. That doesn't mean you can't or shouldn't go spring hiking in the high country (spring snow hiking and snowshoeing is a fine pursuit), but for me, spring is the best time to hit some of the lower elevation canyon trails in the area.
Trees, flowers and other plants are at their lushest of greens in May and June, and streams swollen with spring runoff rush dramatically toward the valley. Oh, and keeping in mind that people are busy, the trails I am highlighting can be done without having to commit an entire day to the excursion.
This is the first hike I took among the canyons east of Ogden, and probably remains my favorite, if only because of the namesake waterfall hikers encounter at the end of a steep but short journey.
The quickest way to access Waterfall Canyon is the 29th Street trailhead. After a short uphill jaunt, you come to a signed intersection. The shortest and quickest route to waterfall is to head right (south), but you can also do a scenic detour by heading north toward Taylor Canyon for several hundred yards, then heading right on a trail that takes you up higher on the mountainside for great views of Ogden and the surrounding area before taking you down into Waterfall. The detour doesn't add a whole lot to the journey (about an extra mile), and is well worth the views.
Waterfall is probably the shortest among the Ogden east bench canyons. The trail gets pretty steep and rocky right after you enter the canyon, and doesn't relent much for the rest of the way, but it's only about a mile to the gem of the hike -- an approximately 200-foot high falls tucked away in a natural rock amphitheater that ranks as the tallest sheer, natural waterfall in the Top of Utah.
Mist from the falls cools hikers who have worked up a sweat climbing the steep trail to get there. It's a great spot to stop and enjoy a pack lunch.
There are at least two good reasons to wear hiking boots with good ankle support on this trail (and many others in the area): First, the steep, rocky trail is fraught with uneven surfaces that can lead to twisted ankles; and second, rattlesnakes.
Rattlesnake bites are a relatively rare occurrence. The venomous snakes generally try to avoid humans, but can be prompted to instinctively strike out in defense if an unsuspecting hiker walks by too closely.
High-top boots are a good defense against these inadvertent encounters, as is a sturdy pair of pants.
In any case, late spring and early summer are generally the best times to hike and view the falls, which typically slow to a trickle later in the summer as fall approaches.
This is a popular trail that follows a route once used by Shoshoni Indians to avoid high water at the rocky narrows located at the mouth of Ogden Canyon.
From the 22nd Street trailhead, follow the signs leading northeast through a network of paths. The trail climbs steeply, turning east into Ogden Canyon, then winding in and out of Warm Water Canyon until it reaches "Nevada Viewpoint" at 6,100 feet. It then descends to meet Cold Water Canyon Trail, which you can follow downward to the Cold Water Canyon Trailhead in Ogden Canyon.
The Indian Trail impresses hikers and offers some variety with sheer cliffs, massive geological formations, and the cool shade of an evergreen forest. While not as steep overall as Waterfall Canyon or some others, is not recommended for bikes or horses because it does have its steep and narrow moments.
This short, steep, and sometimes poorly defined trail is best accessed from the 22nd Street trailhead.
From there, follow the Indian Trail for about one-half mile. Then, at an indistinct fork, turn sharply right and upward. The correct fork is marked by the words "Hidden Valley" painted inconspicuously on a rock. After a relatively short but steep climb, the trail dead-ends in Hidden Valley, a lush, green nook on the mountainside.
The views to the top of Taylor Canyon and of the north flank of Mount Ogden are well worth your while.
The trick with Hidden Valley is choosing the correct spot to branch off from the Indian Trail. Beware of the numerous false paths just before you reach the fork to the correct one.
The Beus Canyon Trail is probably the best choice for climbing Mount Ogden from the west side.
Start at the Forest Service Trailhead on 46th Street (take 46th east until it ends). The trail makes its way up the bottom of the canyon before climbing the ridge to the south. It's almost six miles one-way to the top of the mountain, but many choose not to hike the entire length.
Don't be surprised when the trail peters out after you reach the high ridge.The Forest Service and Weber State Recreational Center are working together to improve the trail here. But, in the meantime, follow the rock cairns that will mark the rest of your way to the top.
Beus Canyon is named for the Beus family, a family of Italian immigrants who came as Mormon pioneers. They were the first to use the canyon's creek waters for their farm, and actually got the receipt for their land from Brigham Young.
Of course, there are many other fine options for spring hiking in the Top of Utah, and hikers on the Ogden east bench trails can come up with dozens of trail combinations, thanks to the extensive Bonneville Shoreline Trail network.
As the snow continues to recede, local hiking options will only become greater and more numerous.
Jeff DeMoss is the outdoors editor and reporter for the Standard-Examiner. He can be reached at email@example.com or (801) 625-4263.