Happy Trails to You

The most desirable communities found in the United States have one thing in common — trails.

Heber City is no different. As the third fastest growing city in the United States for its size, the area offers an amazing 150 miles of trails to hikers, bikers, horseback riders, bird watchers and anyone who wants to enjoy the outdoors.
As people continue to move into the valley, the number of trails will increase as well. “As our population grows, there will be more trails; the trails will be more diversified and get more use,” said Wasatch County Planning Director, Doug Smith.
Heber hasn’t always been the outdoor recreation mecca it is now. Just seven years ago, the valley was much different. “Heber had everything an outdoor enthusiast could want — lakes, rivers, mountains, golf courses, resorts, and clean air — but it was lacking a decent trail system,” said Don Taylor, a member of the Wasatch Trails Alliance. Taylor built some of the first trails himself so he would have somewhere to ride.
Zachary Wood, manager of the local bike shop Slim & Knobby’s, is a huge advocate of trails. “Trails transform communities,” Wood said. “Trails make the community have a whole different feeling — more vibrant — and develop a sense of community,” Wood added.
According to AmericanTrails.org, trails add a myriad of benefits to a community.

BETTER HEALTH

Trails support an active lifestyle, improving the health of community members. Physical activity helps prevent heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, obesity, colon cancer, and depression. An increase in physical activity can save millions in health care spending. Physical activity also reduces stress and improves mental health. “With trails, more people get out and use the them — people who wouldn’t normally get out,” explained Wood.

STRONGER ECONOMY

Tourists will come to communities to use trails. “Trails are a huge economic driver for tourism,” said Taylor.
Tourism creates jobs and puts money into local economies. Many trail users buy goods and eat at local restaurants. Some communities have found that people living near trails take shorter vacations, closer to home.
Trails increase property values. A home near a trail can offer a pleasing view, quieter streets, recreational opportunities and a chance to get in touch with nature. Studies find that properties located near trails generally sell for five to thirty-two percent more than those farther away.
Smith echoes these claims. “Trails add value. Trails provide opportunities to have exercise where you don’t have to compete with cars.”

STRONGER COMMUNITIES

Communities are strengthened by adding new trails. Many of the trails in Wasatch County have been built by local volunteers. “People feel ownership when they help build something,” Taylor explained. “There are many more ears and eyes of people who want to keep the trails nice,” continued Taylor, which results in a decrease of vandalism and partying near the trails.

CONSERVING AND RESPECTING THE ENVIRONMENT

Trails often provide access to remote wilderness areas and stunning views. They provide meaningful outdoor experiences for many users, satisfying the need for wanderlust. Trails often cross lands which are environmentally sensitive in many ways. By leading users along well-worn paths, trails keep users away from more sensitive features that might not be able to withstand traffic.
In the future, Heber Valley will include even more trails. Since 2001, all new projects or developments in the valley are required to have a public trail component following the trend that exists in many other growing communities. Not only will the new communities include trails connecting neighborhoods, but trails continue to be built all over the valley. “The hope is to have a trail that’s accessible — hopefully right out your door,” Smith said.
Wood often directs customers to the trailhead near the local Utah Valley University campus. “It’s well marked, there’s plenty of parking,” he explained. For the more adventurous, there is the Coyote Canyon Loop which takes you into Kamas and Woodland. Dutch Hollow is another local favorite. Taylor is particularly proud of “The Barrel” found in Dutch Hollow. It was one of the first trails he built after moving to Heber. Now Dutch Hollow offers more than 40 miles of trails.
Heber Valley is known for its beautiful views, blue skies and picturesque mountains. What better way to take in all the beauty, then to get out and experience it for yourself?

What stands 11,749’ high, has a heart, a saddle, an emerald, a shack, and some goats?

If you’ve been in Heber for even a short time, you’ll know the valley’s pride lies in the great mountain that sprawls to the west where the sun settles each night. Mount Timpanogos creates a portion of the eastern wall of the Wasatch Front. Often folks claim we, here in Heber, reside on the backside of the great Timpanogos. We’d like to beg their pardon. They happen to be discombobulated, not realizing that we have the front seat to Timp’s right side. Of all the peaks in the Wasatch Mountain Range, the majestic summit is second in height only to Mt. Nebo. Each breathtaking foot is covered in alpine flora, fauna, and crag, while crystal clean water from white peaks, burbles over as falls, and meanders to rivers and streams.

Through The Year

Spring is when the falls of Timp and their gushing runoff are at their prime. Mount Timpanogos Trailhead in Aspen Grove, accessed on State Route 92, is the entry point to three sets of breathtaking waterfall hikes. Timpanogos Falls is made up of an upper and lower set of falls. Visiting both is approximately a 2.5-mile round trip hike. Stewart Falls and Scout Falls are also great options for late spring hikes.

Summer is the best time to beat the heat and get to the heart of the mountain. Timpanogos Cave National Monument leads tours deep into the geologic Timpanogos Cave System. In the depths of the cavern is a large stalactite known as the “Great Heart” of Timpanogos. Legends tell of two hearts joined at death to become one that now lies deep in the mountain.

Summer is also a great time for ambitious hikers and trail runners to reach the peak. But don’t forget your jacket — even in the summer months, the windy summit stays nice and cool. The trek begins at either Aspen Grove or Timpooneke trail. It careens through Mount Timpanogos Wilderness Area, where you may choose to take it slower and camp overnight, remembering there are no fires permitted. Another fun choice is to depart early and squeeze the full excursion into one day. These hikes are where you’ll discover the emerald of Timp — Emerald Lake. Just as a horse’s saddle is sweeping in shape, Mount Timp’s saddle is a sweeping field of boulders where the trail to the peak converges with the ridgeline. Keep your eyes open for the mountain goats, moose, and other wildlife among the profusion of wildflower colors. Marking the summit is an old surveyor shack.

Fall brings a chill to the air, and our trees take center stage. As the bright blooms fade, the deep hues of autumn steal the show. Be sure to take a drive. Throw in a picnic and your camera to make a day of the fully-paved, 20 mile Alpine Scenic Loop. Head out before October passes and our snow closes portions of the loop for the winter.

Winter may offer the best views of Mount Timpanogos from a distance. Adventure junkies sometimes choose to summit Timp in the winter with an ice ax and crampons. If you enjoy snowmobiling or snow biking, Wasatch State Park grooms 72 miles of trail throughout the winter months. They are also home to the 2002 Olympic Site contracted by the Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation. This venue allows for Nordic skiing, a tubing hill, and snowshoeing at the base of Timp. Those of you who don’t feel like competing with yetis or Sherpas may choose other ways to enjoy winters with Timpanogos. Relax while you wind leisurely around the base aboard a railcar of the Heber Valley Railroad. Are you an artist? Find a perch in town to paint to your heart’s delight. Or, simply take it easy and get cozy with a warm drink while enjoying the view from your favorite place.

Whatever the season Mount Timpanogos with its high summit, heart, saddle, emerald, shack, and goats, is definitely worth visiting — even if it’s only from your front porch as you watch the sun settle behind Timps peaks.

Hikes:

Timpanogos Falls
1.9 miles |  moderate  |  dogs allowed  |  kid approved

Stewart Falls
3.4 miles |  moderate  |  dogs allowed  |  kid approved

Scout Falls
4.2 miles |  moderate  |  leashed dogs allowed

Aspen Grove Timp Summit
15.7 miles  |  difficult  |  dogs and horses allowed

Timpooneke Timp Summit
12.8 miles  |  difficult  |  dogs allowed  |  $6 fee, pay at yourpassnow.com

For kids:

The Junior Ranger Program
Available at Timpanogos Cave National Monument. Kids explore
the culture and natural history. There is an event every Saturday
at 10:00 am throughout the open season, May-early September.
Go to nps.gov/tica/learn/kidsyouth for more information.

Legend Of Timpanogos:

As with any good story, there are many variations to the Legend of Timpanogos. In fact, at least 12 recorded versions exist today. The legend is centered on the outline of a woman that can be seen in the peaks of the mountain, and the large stalactite called the “Great Heart” found inside the caves.

The legend is “Romeo and Juliet”-esque, featuring the Indian warrior Red Eagle and the beautiful Indian princess Utahna. While their exact roles and circumstances vary from version to version, the story goes that Utahna was chosen as a sacrifice to the gods to end the great drought. When she was about to jump off the cliffs, Red Eagle begged her not to end her life. Thinking Red Eagle was the great God of Timpanogos, Utahna went to the caves with him, and they fell in love.

One day, Red Eagle was injured by a wild animal — which proved he was human after all — so Utahna left to finish her sacrifice to the gods. After she jumped, Red Eagle found her and took her back to the caves, where it is believed their two hearts became one, forming the stalactite that is now called the Great Heart of Timpanogos. People say you can still see the outline of Utahna lying on top of the mountain.

(Courtesy of nationalparks.org)

For more information on Mount Timpanogos and Wasatch State Park visit https://stateparks.utah.gov/parks/wasatch-mountain