Utah’s mountainous scenery is best complemented by a dramatic sunset...
From north to south, we've done the research to help you get your sunset hike fix. We recommend coordinating your hike with a full moon for maximum effect (and a safer descent)! Don’t forget to pack your headlamp and your camera before you set off to enjoy one of Utah’s many jaw-dropping landscapes draped in the beguiling light of golden hour.
Malan’s Peak Trail, Ogden
For dramatic views in Ogden, consider Malan’s Peak Trail. Though steep, there are several excellent viewpoints along this 4.5 mile out-and-back trail and you can bail early before reaching the summit, if desired. However, the vantage point from the summit provides huge views of the Great Salt Lake to the west. On partly cloudy nights, the cloud cover can lend drama to the backdrop of the sun setting behind the lake. Most users find this hike steep, but well worth the views from the top.
Snowbasin Trail System
Snowbasin Resort maintains three trails just for hikers and over 26 miles of mountain biking trails. Trails are open seven days a week once the snow up top has melted out. The Strawberry Trail and the Ridge Trail will allow hikers to gain the ridges at the top of Snowbasin, providing expansive views to the west of the Great Salt Lake and Antelope Island. Keep an eye on Snowbasin’s website for updates on their summer operating plans and lift-accessed hiking/biking options for summer 2020.
Antelope Island State Park, Davis County
On a clear or partly cloudy night, the west-facing vantage points from Antelope Island offer a sight unlike any other. I don’t know if the density of the highly saline water causes refracting sunlight to behave differently, but there is something otherworldly about watching the sun set behind the Great Salt Lake. I do recommend calling the visitor’s center to inquire after current conditions as there are times when the biting gnats can be unpleasant. It’s best to view sunset when there is a slight to moderate breeze or in the spring or fall months.
You'll also be likely to spy bison and antelope! (Don’t forget to give these dangerous creatures plenty of room.) Antelope Island has a number of trails to choose from, but you’ll want a trail that faces west to catch the sunset. Hearty hikers may want to venture to Frary Peak, the highest point in the park with stunning 360-degree views. A shorter trail more appropriate for families is the Buffalo Point Trail, a 1-mile out-and-back with about 200 feet of elevation gain. From this hike, you are almost certain to spy buffalo in the distance. A more moderate hike is Dooley Knob, an outcropping that places hikers atop breathtaking views of the lake and the Wasatch range.
McPolin Farm Nature Trail, Park City
Enjoy the scenery and atmosphere of life on the farm while winding along the undulating property of the old McPolin Farm near Park City. Behind the barn, in a grove of aspens, lies a nature trail ideal for all ages. This short, 1-mile trek offers interpretive signs and information about the area’s natural history. Though the western horizon is enveloped by the picturesque slopes of Park City Mountain Resort, the sunset views from around McPolin Farm offer a spectacular sight in partly cloudy weather.
Lost Prospector Trail, Park City
The Lost Prospector trail is perched atop the ridgeline above Park City’s Main Street with excellent views of all the quaint historic buildings and the slopes of Park City Mountain and Deer Valley Resort.
As with many Park City trails, keep an eye out for mountain bikers! Pups are allowed but should be leashed. This trail is particularly stunning amid the changing of seasons when fall colors pepper the landscape. There are a number of access points and intersecting trails, so a hike on Lost Prospector can easily be customized to your needs or converted to a loop hike.
Bells Canyon, Cottonwood Heights
Located at the base of Little Cottonwood Canyon, this hike offers a short walk to Lower Bell Canyon Reservoir. From here, there are trails leading up into a basin offering unobstructed views due west. You may continue hiking on up to the Bells Canyon Waterfall for a pleasant view to the west complete with a roaring water soundscape. Based on the time of year, the setting sun may be tucked behind the northern flank of the canyon wall, but you’ll have a beautiful view of the Oquirrh Mountain Range to the west.
Please note that because this hike is located within the Salt Lake City watershed, dogs are not permitted on these trails. To understand why dogs aren’t permitted or if you’d like more info on our amazing watersheds, see my article here.
Brian Head & Cedar Breaks National Monument
There are a number of stunning hikes and outlooks in the mountainous red rock country around Brian Head Ski Resort and its neighbor, the Cedar Breaks National Monument in Southern Utah. Within the monument, there are hiking options for all levels but the most obvious bet is the Sunset Trail. This is an easy, 2-mile ADA-ABA accessible trail that is paved and it runs through a grove of woods, provides many resting areas and unsurprisingly, sunset views.
Spectra Point is a more strenuous 2-mile roundtrip hike that winds through ancient bristlecone pine. Though not long, the Spectra Point hike hovers around 10,500 feet in elevation, so it’ll definitely suck some wind from your lungs. The Ramparts Overlook adds additional mileage if Spectra feels short.
For those who are looking for rapid-fire sunset access, the monument offers several pullouts like the North View Overlook, Chessmen Ridge Overlook and the Sunset View Overlook. You could pack a romantic supper and enjoy a sweat-free sunset if hiking isn’t your jam.
Brian Head Resort offers up tons of mountain biking for all abilities in addition to a few hiking trails. The Twisted Forest Trail is located near the resort and encompasses meadows of wildflowers, wildlife watching and the dramatic and ancient bristlecone pines, for which the trail gets its name. For additional hikes in the area, check out Erika's article for Six Dramatic Hiking Trails Near Brian Head - Click Here
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10 Most Common Wildflowers in the Wasatch - Click Here