A week or so ago, most of us woke up to a sprinkling of the season’s first fallen yellow leaves across our yards, patios, and sidewalks. The first signs of fall always inject no small dose of exhilaration into this skier’s heart. But before ski season actually arrives, we have much else to look forward to, from pumpkin everything and Halloween, to glorious fall foliage. If you’re a foliage fiend, here are five places to strike autumn gold in the Park City area.
1. Hike Wasatch Crest Trail from Guardsman Pass
Sometimes, you have to get high to get the best view—and I don’t mean Colorado high. Topping out at nearly 10,000 feet, the Wasatch Crest will give you a boost in elevation that also boosts your foliage view. Access the six(ish)-mile out-and-back trail from Guardsman Pass, where you’ll also catch some beautiful leaves. You can also mountain bike this trail if you prefer a faster, more adrenaline-filled tour de leaves.
2. Snowbasin’s Blues, Brews, & BBQ … and Bouquets of Foliage
While you might think of the Cottonwood Canyons as primarily winter destinations reserved for when you want to explore new mountains, Snowbird, Snowbasin, and other area resorts also have great hiking trails, scenic lift rides, and events that should motivate you to make the trip any time of year. Snowbasin hosts a free Blues, Brews & BBQ event every Sunday afternoon through September 30. Pair your local beer and brisket with the breathtaking fall colors.
3. Lunch at Moosehorn Lake in the Uintas
For those looking to get a little further off the Park City foliage circuit, Moosehorn Lake awaits just past the summit of Mirror Lake Scenic Byway. Drive through Kamas and continue into the Uintas. Stop at the Byway’s peak to take some killer panoramic photos, then descend a couple of switchbacks until you see Moosehorn Lake on your left. In the shadow of Bald Mountain and ringed by trees, this is a beautiful place for fall canoeing, fishing, camping, or just destination picnicking. Turn it into a full day trip by stopping at other photo opps on the way there and back.
4. Drive the Long Way to SLC via Emigration Canyon
Have a trip to Salt Lake you must make this fall? Turn it into a mini road trip with gorgeous views by hopping off I-80 at the East Canyon exit. From there, turn right on East Canyon; after a couple miles, hang a left on Emigration Canyon. Immensely popular with road bikers, this alternate route switchbacks up and down through forested areas overlooking East Canyon Reservoir. Eventually, you’ll pass This is The Place Park and Hogle Zoo until you intersect with Foothill Drive in Salt Lake. Stop along the way and grab some grub at Ruth’s Diner.
5. Make a Scarecrow at McPolin Farm
One of the perks of living in a place that prizes open space, trees, and trails is that you don’t have to venture far to take in the foliage. We’re right in the thick of it! You can catch shimmering golden Aspens and hills that resemble jars of pumpkin spice potpourri right in Old Town or nearby at, say, the McPolin Farm. This Park City landmark is a great spot to take foliage photo shoots and, if you need another excuse to visit, is hosting its Scarecrow Festival on September 22. Kids will have a blast with face painting, pumpkin painting, and scarecrow crafting, while you bask in the alluring autumn setting.