Free Fun: The Great Outdoors

Springtime is great. The weather gets warm, the drab greyness of winter melts into new growth and you can finally go outside without a massive coat. I always start getting antsy to spend more time outdoors this time of year. And since I can’t go anywhere (there’s a global pandemic, did you hear?) I’m even more stir-crazy than usual. Luckily, here in Utah, there’s plenty of great hiking and walking trails within a close distance.

Some quick general instructions: when hiking, it’s always important to wear good shoes, bring water, and go with other people in case there’s an emergency situation. But of course, keep your groups under ten right now and make sure everyone is healthy and hasn’t been in contact with anyone who is sick.

Now that’s out of the way, here are 3 great trails within an hour drive from Bingham to help scratch that spring fever itch.


1) Jordan River Parkway Trail

This modest, paved walking path spans most of the Jordan River. It’s definitely not one where you would plan to start at the trailhead and walk to the end—it spans about 40 miles—but there are plenty of parking lots along the trail to walk a portion of it. I’ve spent a lot of evenings taking a short walk along this trail. The trail allows bikes and horses as well as walkers, so you do need to be aware that they might be coming up behind you as you go. As it’s right next to the Jordan River, there are a lot of trees for shade and plants and animals to make the scenery more enjoyable. I know from experience that bird watching is very good. 

2) Ensign Peak

This one is a bit more of a hike than a leisurely stroll, and the only trail on this list that is not at least in part wheelchair accessible. It can be steep to the top of the peak, but once you get up there the view of Salt Lake City is worth it. No matter how many times I go, I always find it breathtaking. Go in the spring or the evenings when it’s cooler, rather than at noon in the middle of July. Maybe even try to time it so you can see the sunset from the top, making sure you leave yourself enough light to get back down. You could bring a flashlight for this, but be aware that it is very steep. The trailhead is north of Salt Lake, about a 35-minute drive from Bingham.

3) Silver Lake

This lake is a huge part of my childhood. I don’t think a summer has gone by where I haven’t spent a day at Silver Lake. Since this one is a bit farther, you should plan on spending some time there. And since it’s so far up the canyon, you may want to wait until summer when the snow melts. There are picnic tables available around the lake. The trail goes around the lake and through the surrounding trees. Closer to the lake, there are boardwalks that go over more marshy areas of the trail. The lake itself is up Big Cottonwood Canyon, between Brighton and Solitude ski resorts. You cannot bring pets. Fishing is allowed on the lake as long as you have a license. These trails are fantastic for getting outdoors and doing something different this spring.