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6 great park hikes to go on during the winter

Utah State Parks

6 great park hikes to go on during the winter

By Faith Heaton Jolley | Posted - Dec. 29, 2015 at 12:57 p.m.



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THE GREAT OUTDOORS — If you are tired of hibernating and have a hankering to get outdoors, but skiing isn't really your thing, here is another great alternative — hiking.

While hiking in winter may not be very plausible in some areas of the state, there are a few spots that lend themselves to the activity year-round.

Some areas of Utah don't get a lot of snow during the winter months, even when most of the state is getting pounded. Here are six areas you can hike at this winter; and if you want to go with a group, Utah State Parks personnel are leading a hike on New Year's Day in each of these locations. Remember to dress warmly when hiking and to always bring water with you.

Antelope Island State Park

Antelope Island State Park has 28 miles of hiking trails and park manager Jeremy Shaw said the island only gets about 10 inches of snow each year, making it a great destination for hiking and mountain biking during the winter months.

The shore is about 4,200 feet in elevation, but hikers can climb to the 6,596-foot summit of Frary Peak, the island's highest point. The 7-mile roundtrip hike will take the better part of a day.

The 5-mile moderate hike at Beacon Hill is another great hiking option at Antelope Island State Park.

The New Year's Day hiking group will meet at the Gravel Pit Trailhead and the hike will start at 10 a.m., according to Utah State Park officials. A park ranger will lead the hike and will teach about the wildlife and history of the island.

Well-behaved dogs on a 6-foot leash can join the hike. For more information and to check for last-minute weather cancellation call the park at 801-773-2941.

Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park

Located in Southern Utah, Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park offers 3,000 acres of colorful sand that forms several big and small pink-colored sand dunes, the largest more than 300 feet high. Hikers can find ancient ponderosa pine trees growing out of the coral sand as they go on various hikers through the park.

The New Year's Day hike will begin at 11 a.m., and hikers can meet at the park's visitor center. A park ranger will help hikers use GPS coordinates to find several ancient ponderosa pine trees and will explain their history. The 2-mile hike is moderately difficult and dogs on leashes are welcome to join.

Anyone with questions about the New Year's Day hike can contact Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park at 435-648-2800.

Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. Photo credit: Utah State Parks
Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. Photo credit: Utah State Parks

Dead Horse Point State Park

Located 30 miles from Arches National Park and 10 miles from Canyonlands National Park, Dead Horse Point State Park has 8 miles of hiking trails available. Visitors can also hike on the 17 miles of single-track mountain bike trails.

The Big Horn Overlook hike features red sandstone areas dotted with Swiss cheese-like holes and leads to one of the most amazing views in Utah, according to Utah State Parks officials. The trail is uneven and can sometimes have snowy and icy patches in winter, but those who make the hike are rewarded with the breathtaking scenery.

The hike to the Big Horn Overlook is moderately difficult and is 2.5 miles roundtrip.

The New Year's Day hiking group will leave the park's visitor center at 12:45 p.m. Dogs on leashes are welcome to join the hike. To check for weather cancellations, call Dead Horse Point State Park at 435-259-2614.

Dead Horse Point State Park. Photo credit: Utah State Parks
Dead Horse Point State Park. Photo credit: Utah State Parks

Red Fleet State Park

Located about 12 miles north of Vernal on Highway 191, Red Fleet State Park is most famous for its trackway featuring more than 200 dinosaur tracks. The Red Fleet Dinosaur Trackway Trail takes hikers from the campground area to the northeast side of the reservoir, where the trackway is located across from the boat ramp. The mike is 3 miles roundtrip.

The park manager will be the guide for the New Year's Day hike. Hikers should meet at the Dinosaur Trackway Trailhead at 9 a.m. If conditions are snowy, the hike will still be held — just be sure to bring some snowshoes.

For more information about the New Year's Day hike or weather cancellations, call the park office at 435-789-4432.

Red Fleet State Park. Photo credit: Red Fleet State Park
Red Fleet State Park. Photo credit: Red Fleet State Park

Snow Canyon State Park

Due to its proximity to sunny St. George, Snow Canyon State Park doesn't receive very much snowfall and is a great place for winter hikes. The park offers 38 miles of hiking trails and around 22 different hikes, according to park manager Jordan Perez. Because the landscape varies so much in the park, each hike is unique and offers a different experience. People can hike through sand and reach a slot canyon with the Jenny's Canyon hike, or they can enjoy an "off-trail" experience of scrambling across slickrock when climbing to high peaks in the Petrified Dune area.

The Petrified Dune hike is moderately difficult and is 2 miles roundtrip. It will be the featured New Year's Day hike and hikers should meet at 9 a.m. in the Upper Galoot Picnic area. Pets are not allowed on the hike.

Anyone who joins the New Year's Day hike can listen as an interpretive ranger explains the fascinating geology of the area while gazing out at the stunning landscape. For weather cancellations and more information, people can call Snow Canyon State Park at 435-628-2255.

Snow Canyon State Park. Photo credit: Utah State Parks
Snow Canyon State Park. Photo credit: Utah State Parks

Willard Bay State Park

Located about 12 miles northwest of Ogden, Willard Bay State Park has several nice nature trails that are good for hiking year-round. The Willard Bay Nature Trail is about 1 mile and goes from Eagle Beach through several of the campgrounds.

The New Year's Day hike will begin at noon at the Eagle Beach group pavilion. An interpretive ranger will lead hikers along the easy 1-mile hike along the Linda C. Higley Nature Trail. Hikers may see bald eagles and other wildlife.

Well-behaved dogs are allowed to join the hike, as long as they are on a leash, Utah State Parks officials said. For information about weather cancellations call 435-734-9494 or check out the Willard Bay Facebook Page.

Do you have any other hikes that you enjoy during the cold, winter months? Let us know in the comments.

Willard Bay State Park. Photo credit: Utah State Parks
Willard Bay State Park. Photo credit: Utah State Parks

Faith Heaton Jolley

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