On a Friday after school in January, we decided to hike the American Fork Canyon Nature Trail. It’s only a half-mile roundtrip, and since it was getting toward 4 o’clock, we needed to keep it short (see our Tips for Winter Hiking). This is also our fourth hike in our 52 Hike Challenge this year.
It had snowed over an inch earlier in the day, so we were the first people on the trail. We were able to follow the trail just fine, but we were blazing our way through 6-8 inches of snow, which was actually really fun. This hike is a gentle uphill out-and-back trail, and it is beautiful in the winter. The trail walks in and out of trees, and offers beautiful views of the mountains.
We love the American Fork Canyon Nature Trail for a few reasons. One: it is so short. Most people can hike this trail since it is only 0.5 mile roundtrip. Two: there are interpretive signs along the way, and we love to learn more about the canyon and the trees and animals that live there. Three: The trail is paved. Even though that doesn’t help in the winter, in the warmer months, you can push a stroller or wheelchair. And Four: there are bridges at the beginning and end. Our boys love crossing the river, and it makes the hike fun for them.
We like to do this hike by parking at the lower lot near the bathroom (The Swinging Bridge Picnic Area) and hiking uphill. After winding through the snowy trees for a quarter mile, you drop down to the upper bridge, which crosses over to the upper parking area near Timpanogos Cave. From there, we simply turn around and walk back to the lower parking lot. You can also park near the upper bridge because there is a small pull out, but we like to park at the picnic area because there is a lot of parking, and bathrooms (even though they weren’t open in the winter).
American Fork Canyon Nature Trail is a great place to try winter hiking with young kids. For other winter hike ideas with kids, check out our list of Family Friendly Winter Hikes.
The Swinging Bridge Picnic Area is about 3 miles into the AF Canyon, just before you reach the Timpanogos Cave National Monument. It is located on National Monument lands, so there is no fee to hike this trail. It’s a FREE hike. Make sure to tell them this is your destination at the fee station. If you would like to read about hiking this trail in warm weather, click here.