Southern Utah was our favorite part of the first Big Trip, and we were excited to explore Northern Utah a bit this trip. We chose Park City as our base for our first big hiking stop on this trip, and we also got out to several restaurants, knowing we’d likely be cooking at home for the next little stretch post-Park City. Downtown Park City is adorable, and the hiking we did was incredibly gorgeous!
[Read about our second visit to Park City in 2020 here!]
We stayed at Park City RV Resort, a full-amenities campground with pretty views and a little trail along the creek backing the property. A paved trail goes by the campground and leads into Kimball Junction, the satellite commercial neighborhood of Park City that has a Whole Foods and some other non-Whole Foods stores that we didn’t patronize. The cutesy ski town-section of Park City is about a 12-minute drive up the mountain; Ubers and Lyfts are plentiful for evening excursions into downtown. The campground is beside the interstate, so you do hear some traffic noise, but it didn’t bother us, and we were in the front section (D–pull-throughs) near the road. The E section (back-in) of the park seemed to be best for quiet and views.
Look at a map of Park City and you’ll see lots of green to the east, west, and south. We wanted to sample from each of those green areas, so we did one hike to the west, three to the south, and one to the east. The different green chunks on the map are a bit confusing: much of the non-contiguous green space is different ranger districts of the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest. (The Uinta Mountains, a subrange of the Rockies, are in Northeast Utah, and the Wasatch Mountains run vertically down the center of the top half of Utah. I don’t think there are any Cache mountains.)
One important note about hiking with your dog near Salt Lake City: no dogs are allowed on trails within protected watersheds in Salt Lake County, and the penalties are hefty. This article lists the areas to avoid, but be extra careful when you’re researching hikes to make sure they’re dog-friendly.
West: Salt Lake City
Our sweet friend who’s in grad school at the University of Utah took us up to The Living Room, a hike basically across the street from the school. It’s about four miles total, an out-and-back up to a neat overlook of downtown Salt Lake City complete with stone “furniture.” Someone even left a remote on the “coffee table”! It was fun and convenient–and so pretty crowded, but still dog-friendly. [Oh yeah, by the way: we saw a TARANTULA on the trail. No big deal.]
South: National Forest
Butler Fork Loop is a 7.5-mile (or 9-ish if you add Dog Lake, which wasn’t worth the side trip) trail in Mount Olympus Wilderness. This hike does NOT allow dogs! Bugsy’s feet got scraped up by the ice on the Jupiter Peak and Lackawaxen hikes (see below), so she took this day off. This loop has gorgeous views and is an enjoyable jaunt through a beautiful forest, with a short but very steep climb at the beginning and descent at the end.
Silver Glance Lake is a 6-mile hike to two alpine lakes in Lone Peak Wilderness. The best part is the view down toward Silver Lake–Silver Glance Lake itself isn’t too special. This hike is a long drive from Park City, but it was tough to find a lake hike that allows dogs (if you’re without a dog, check out White Pine Lake, Red Pine Lake, or Lake Blanche).
Jupiter Peak and Shadow Lake and Lackawaxen and Bloods Lake loop share a parking area, so we combined them with a lunch break at the car so we wouldn’t have to schlep our food on the trail. It being late October, there was some snow in the ski resort areas and adjacent mountains… Jupiter Peak and Shadow Lake were manageable with the snow and we enjoyed the big views along the way, but the Lackawaxen hike was not fun (stupidly steep, hard to follow the trail) and seemed like it wouldn’t be great even without the awful snowy conditions.
East: National Forest
We are obsessed with alpine lakes, so for our last day of hiking we headed east to Mirror Lake Recreation Area and pieced together a couple trails for a lovely afternoon of exploration. We have the Gaia app and used that to make a loop around Wall Lake, and then did an out-and-back to Long Lake.
Our first night in town we craved sushi, and Yuki Yama was on multiple “best of Park City” lists, so we ordered carryout (which they don’t usually do, but they did it) and it was incredible. Sushi in Utah seems kind of strange (although we love our sushi place in Moab, and that’s even more random) but give it a shot.
I love a cocktail, and High West Distillery has the best cocktails in Park City, made from their own whiskeys and vodka–and their burger is supposedly the best burger in Park City. J tried it and loved it, and my trout salad was delicious. We went back a second night for another cocktail.
We read all the “best of” lists we could find, and Handle kept appearing, so we ate there our last night in town. It’s on those lists for good reason! J’s favorite dish was the slider, and mine was the butternut tagliatelle.
Another top restaurant in Park City is J&G Grill, and we got dressed up for a special night out there. The food was stellar, but the best part of the experience was riding the funicular up to the restaurant!
I already talked about High West‘s cocktails. Yum.
We went to No Name Saloon for a beer on two different occasions. It seemed to have a mix of locals and tourists and was a fun spot. Of the bars in Park City that we tried, we’d happily return to High West and No Name.
After we hiked The Living Room, we swung by the Epic Brewing taproom in Salt Lake City. It was a friendly but strange place, with music buzzing from a cell phone rather than actual speakers, and because of Utah’s silly beer laws, a tasting flight cannot have more than 2 samples.
Park City Brewery is just down the road from the campground, and is a cool enough spot to drink a beer, but the alcohol laws are SO backward in Utah that we had one beer and went home.
We tried to have a drink and hear some music at O.P. Rockwell, but they were closed.
High West has a larger distillery in Wanship, Utah, which isn’t too far from our part of Park City. We planned to stop by on the way home from Mirror Lake but were too late.