We finally did it! We hiked the Y! We were worried that our boys wouldn’t make it, but they did great. And you can, too. So here’s the run down for hiking the Y, which is the largest mountain side letter in Utah, and the entire United States!
First of all, try to avoid busy days. We went on Labor Day so the trail was filled with people. The parking lot was full, so we parked further down the road. There were lots of people who parked almost two blocks away and then they had to hike that much further. We had a great time even though there were scads of people sharing our hike with us, but if you want a more peaceful hike, we recommend avoiding weekends, and definitely any holidays.
The hike starts right next to the mountain and there is a huge Y sign, so you can’t miss the start of the trail. The hike begins to climb pretty soon since it is a letter hike! This hike is definitely a steady, steep climb all the way to the Y. So plan on taking lots of breaks and go as slow as your little ones need. One of the nice things about the Y hike is that they have counted the number of turns you make on your hike. This proved to be very useful for the kids because they could keep track of our progress. They loved coming to each sign and finding out that we had made it to the next turn, and we had only a few more to go. The signs also tell you how much further until the next turn, as well as the elevation. We really appreciated the sign set up they have on the trail.
The hike to the Y isn’t very beautiful. You walk through the scrub oak for a bit, but you are mostly out on the bare mountainside. So our recommendation is to go early in the morning. We arrived at 9:30 am and we were in the shade for most of the hike up to the Y before the sun came over the mountain and warmed the trail. This is also a great hike to do in the Spring or Fall so you can avoid that burning Utah heat!
The hike is a little over 1 mile to the Y. You can hike to the bottom, middle, or top, depending on which turn you break off over toward the Y. At turn #10, you can follow a trail over to the bottom of the Y. This cuts an extra .2 of climbing off the hike. It’s only .1 over to the bottom of the Y from turn #10, but it’s a flat trail. If you continue up to turn #11, you will continue to climb and then head directly to the middle of the Y where the top lines meet the big bottom line. There is also another turn here that takes you up to the very top of the Y. We decided to land in the middle of the Y, but we later walked up to the top on the white stones.
Once you’ve made it to the Y, sit down and rest! We brought snacks to enjoy while we sat and overlooked the valley. You can see quite far and it’s fun to pick out familiar landmarks in Utah Valley. After sitting for a bit, we walked to the top, and then all the way to the bottom. There were lots of people sitting, walking, and taking pictures all over this huge letter. The Y is made out of concrete and is painted white. It’s not completely smooth like the Bountiful B or the Block U, so it makes it easier to hike around on.
After we spent our time at the Y, we walked the trail from the bottom of the Y over to turn #10 and headed back down. Going down is always easier, but be careful not to fall. We saw quite a few children slip and fall as they ran down the mountainside. The trail has lots of loose rocks, so take your time going back down.
There are restrooms located at the trailhead which we needed on the way up and down. Here’s how to find the trailhead. From 900 E in Provo, turn east (toward the mountains) on 820 North. The road will head left and become Oakmont Lane. Take a right on Oak Cliff Drive and veer right. Take a right on Terrace Drive and this road will wind around as you make your way to the Y Trailhead parking lot. You will pass another parking lot for a different trail, but the trailhead is at the 2nd parking lot. Hopefully it won’t be full when you arrive. When you’re done, make sure to get ice cream at the BYU creamery–then you will have had a full BYU experience!