The Mormon Pioneer Trail technically runs for 1300 miles from Nauvoo, Illinois to Salt Lake City, Utah. It is an official National Historic Trail, and there are many spots along the way where you can hike on the Mormon Pioneer Trail. In Utah, there is an official Mormon Pioneer Trail hike that runs for 18 miles. We are going to share about two spots to hike along this trail.
Mormon Flats Trail
We hiked a section in Little Emigration Canyon in Utah. This trail begins at the Mormon Flats Campground where you can camp if you’d like. There is a large open field with picnic tables and a fire pit, as well as pit toilets, but no shade. A parking fee of $2 has recently been added. There is a sign that explains that the Donner Reed Party first climbed through this canyon, but the pioneers and other emigrants, pony express riders, freighters and many more used this same trail.
You begin the trail by crossing the creek that runs next to the campground. The first part of the hike walks through the bushes and reeds near the creek. It’s shady and cool, but watch out for thistles. We had to keep an eye out so our little ones didn’t get poked.
After about 1/2 mile, you come out into the open and there’s a sign that marks the trail as part of the Mormon Pioneer National Historical Trail, as well as the California National Historic Trail and the Pony Express National Historic Trail. After a few minutes in the hot sun, you will come into the canyon. The quaking aspens flank the trail and you walk next to the dry creek bed. The trail is very flat and is mostly in the shade.
This trail continues on for about 4.5 miles up to Big Mountain (elevation gain 1200 feet), but we only walked about 1 mile on the trail before we turned around. We told pioneer stories since it was Pioneer Day, and talked about what life would have been like during the time of the Pioneers. When our phone told us we had reached a mile, we turned around since we were walking with little ones. You can walk as far as you’d like, but the first mile that we walked was completely flat and easy. Our 3 year-old walked the whole trail, which was 2 miles round trip.
This is a great historic trail to give your families a bit of Utah history. And you can adapt the hike based on your families abilities. We have also heard it’s beautiful in the fall as the trail is surrounded by trees. In addition, there is a high potential to see animals along the trail. We didn’t see much, but we saw evidence of moose and deer, and elk could easily be seen here.
To find the Mormon Pioneer Trail in Emigration Canyon, take exit 141 from the 1-80 for Jeremy Ranch. Once you get off the exit, take a left, which is the 5th exit from the round about and cross over the 1-80. On the other side of the freeway, you will come to another round about. Take the 3rd exit (another left) onto Jeremy Ranch Road. Then there will be one more round about, stay straight on Jeremy Ranch rd. Follow this road for 5.1 miles and turn left at the Mormon Flat Historical Marker. Park here and you will find the trail.
Little Dell Recreation Area Trail
The other area that we hiked for the Mormon Pioneer Trail was near Little Dell Recreation Area. We hiked this trail in the fall, and it was beautiful. The other trail listed above would be beautiful in the fall, too. Much like the Mormon Flats trail, you can walk as far as you want and then turn around. We walk about 1/2 mile and then flipped, so only a mile roundtrip.
The trail begins next to a pit toilet, and then walks along a small stream. The entire hike was flat and easy, so this would be prefect for toddlers for a great fall hike.
To find the parking area, take exit 134 off of the 1-80 and head north toward Little Dell Recreation area on Scenic Highway 65. Follow for about 4.5 miles and there is a small parking area with a pit toilet. There is also a sign at the beginning of the trail that says “Mormon Pioneer Trail,” so you’ll know you’re in the right place. I pinned the parking area to help you find it!