I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not much of an outdoorsy type of girl. Sure, I grew up camping and taking trips to Lake Powell with the family but we had a 5th wheel and a houseboat with nearly all of the modern conveniences of home. I don’t exactly enjoy “roughing” it, and in my mind the epitome of roughing it is going hiking. I thoroughly despise the activity. It’s a hot and sweaty business, surrounded by bugs, poisonous plants and other such “nature” crap.
That isn’t to say that I haven’t given hiking and nature the old college try. I’ve tried really, really hard to like hiking and be “one” with nature, but it’s never really worked out so well. This one time, I went hiking up the Mt. Timpanogos Summit via Timpooneke Trail with my friends. I was so miserable and angry about my situation, I ended up calling one of my friends a “dirty pirate whore.”
Given my unabashed distaste for the activity, when it comes to recommending hiking excursions, I’m not exactly an expert in the traditional sense. My knowledge is based solely upon which trails -- to me -- suck the least. And luckily in Utah County, there are some to choose from.
First off is Timpanogos Cave. I really don’t hate this hike that much. This might be due to the fact it’s technically not a true hike until the actual cave part. A mile and a half of paved trail takes you up to the mouth of the cave, but it is pretty steep switchbacks and considered a moderately difficult trail. If you’re out of shape (like me), a few breaks and breathers may be necessary. While the hike up to the cave is free, to actually have a tour of the cave requires permits purchased in advance and picked up at the National Monument office at the base of the trail. To get to Timpanogos Cave Trail, take exit 284 off of I-15, then take State Route 92 east about nine miles. The entrance is on the south side of the road.
A much easier hike can be found at Battle Creek Falls, just east of Pleasant Grove. This is one I also don’t detest. It’s considered an easy trail, the type pretty much anyone can handle. The path starts from the trailhead and goes into the canyon. It’s marked by really obvious trail markers so even a directionally impaired person like me can get along just fine. It stays on the bottom of the canyon most of the 1.2 mile trek but then climbs up to the bench of the waterfall. It’s quite refreshing to be misted by the waterfall after the hike, especially if the day you choose to go just so happens to be sweltering. To get to Battle Creek Falls, just follow 200 South to the east side of Pleasant Grove. It ends at the trailhead.
If you’re looking for something similar to Battle Creek Falls but half the distance, check out Grotto Falls just above Payson. The trail is super-easy and only 0.6 miles in and out. It ends at a pretty little waterfall that is really refreshing in the heat of summer. If the summer heat isn’t to your liking, it’s also nice during the fall with all of the autumn colors. To get there, follow 600 East south into Payson Canyon. The road becomes Nebo Scenic Loop and the trailhead is about seven miles up.