Pine Creek Nature Trail leads to an interesting geological feature in Heber Valley that is just right for families with kids. It begins in Wasatch Mountain State Park, so there is a $7 fee, but we never mind paying for our state and national parks.
The Pine Creek Nature Trail starts at the entrance to the Pine Creek campground. Parking is right next to the kiosk where you pay the fee. The trail heads north parallel to the campground and runs slightly uphill for about a 1.8 miles. During this stretch, the trail runs in and out of the shade, so it would work well on a hot day. Since the trail is following a small stream, it also has several bridges to cross. There are even benches along the way.
We started this 3.6 mile loop by taking the right trail. Since we picked up the Junior Ranger booklet for this park, we were answering questions about our hike. There was also a map inside the booklet, but you can pick up a map at the Visitor Center, too. The map helps with the lollipop loop at the top.
There were helpful signs that told us about the vegetation in the area. We also enjoyed the wildlife including ospreys, towhees, woodpeckers, and small mammals like chipmunks. Though the hike was a gentle climb, it took us awhile to get to the end.
At the top of the hike, there is a large boulder field. This interesting area is the result of a glacier moving through this area thousands of years ago. The rocks were deposited by the glacier where they still sit. Our boys enjoyed leaping (carefully) around the rocks for a few minutes at the midway point.
The journey back downhill on the left side of the trail seems much easier because it is slightly downhill. It took us only half the time to return to the car than it took us to get to the boulders. This hike was perfect if your kids are older than toddlers, but not yet big enough for a long difficult hike. The park literature says that the trail is easy, but we would list it more in the moderate category based on length and the uphill climb.
For more info about things to do in Wasatch Mountain State Park, read this post about our visit.