Hike the Y in Provo


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.

There were so many people on this hike!

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.

You’ll know that you’re at the right place when you see this sign.
You can see the Y to the left of the telephone pole in this picture. That’s your destination.
The trail signs make the hike fun and doable for families.
This is the hike overview map.
Here’s the fork in the trail. A right turn will take you to the top or middle, while a left turn goes to the bottom. There are often benches at the turns for a resting spot.
We thought this hike would be much harder than it was, but we were grateful for the resting places.

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 trail is wide and well-traveled, and hiking in the morning was perfect. Our boys said it was cold for the first 30 minutes.
This isn’t really a forest habitat, but this trail is more for where you end, not the actual hike.
At some of the corners, you can see the Y in the distance, luckily. It helps you continue on when you can see your goal.

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.

This is turn 10. You can either take the trail in the top left corner of this picture to the bottom of the Y, or you can continue on to the top!
This is the trail that walks over to the bottom. It is fairly flat from the turn 10 sign.
This the trail after turn 11. It ends at the middle of the Y. You can also, take turn 12 and head up to the very top.

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.

A lot of folks were resting at the Y.
This is the view looking down the Y.
Though the hike up isn’t so beautiful, the view from the top is striking!

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.

Be careful on the way down. Little ones will want to run, but it’s a bad idea!

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!

At least it’s easy to find someone to take your family picture.

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Chris

    Thanks for writing this up – super helpful as I was wondering about how the hike would be with little ones. Much appreciated!

  2. Millie

    We are headed there today, and of course I had to check out your website before starting the trek. Thanks for your information!

    1. Natalie Ockey

      So glad you came to our site to check out info! And I hope that you had fun hiking the Y!

  3. Shayleen

    Thanks so much for your pics of this hike. I have two special needs children and I’ve been wondering for awhile if they could do this hike. I’ve had people tell me yes and people tell me no. Your pic of that map helped me tons! I think we’ll give it a try this summer! Less than 1 mile and about 1100 ft gain….hope we can make it! Thanks again!