Postcards & Passports

Two Waterfalls and a Bridge — Utah Family-Friendly Hikes

I recently discovered three family-friendly hikes in Salt Lake County, Utah. In fact, I was able to do all three hikes in one morning, so you probably can too. Visiting two waterfalls and a bridge were highlights of my Memorial Day hiking.

My criteria for choosing hikes were:

  1. not too long (I’m recovering from a knee injury)
  2. not too strenuous (I don’t enjoy going uphill in steep terrain)
  3. not too exposed to the sun
  4. One more criteria — I still wanted to see beautiful views!

Yes, I know the most beautiful views are hard-fought for — longer or steeper hikes are often required to get you to those beautiful viewpoints.

I lucked out on these hikes. I didn’t have to expend too much energy and I still got to see two waterfalls and a bridge, plus views of valleys, canyons, and wildflowers. Want to try them, too?

Bear Canyon Suspension Bridge, Draper, UT

The trailhead for Bear Canyon Suspension Bridge is well marked on Google Maps, and you can’t miss it when you arrive. The trailhead is at the Orson Smith Park. The bridge is also more familiarly called the Draper Suspension Bridge. There is a large parking lot, restrooms, water-filling stations, sinks for washing hands, picnic area, a climbing rock and plenty of signage. It’s a popular hike, so you’ll probably see lots of other folks coming to enjoy the same views as you, especially on a weekend. This was by far the busiest hike of my day!

This hiking trail allows your dogs to join you, but please keep them on a leash, on the trails, and be prepared to clean up after them. As the sign on the kiosk says, “There is no ‘POOP FAIRY’ – Please clean up after your dog.”

The trail to the Bear Canyon Suspension Bridge is a 2.3 mile loop. It also has a 450 foot elevation gain. A horse-riding trail merges with it, as well as a bicycle trail, so you may see both bicycles or horses, although I saw neither on my hike. I did see lots of dogs, however! It might be tempting to cut across some of the hairpin turns in the trail, but this is not allowed, as it damages the habitat.

Views are expansive across the Salt Lake Valley. and you can easily see the Kennicott Copper Mine on the other side. Most of the trail is exposed to the sun, so be sure to start your hike early in the day to avoid heating up too much. Bring water for you AND your dogs, if they are accompanying you..

Getting to the bridge

Look for the sign that says ‘Bridge Loop’. At this point, you can get to the bridge by continuing straight or turning right off of the trail. I’ll confess right here, that I didn’t hike all the way to the bridge. I had my heart set on some waterfall hikes, so I only hiked to the point where I could see the bridge and chose to save my energy for another hike! The bridge is 185 feet long, and from what I hear, the views from the bridge are great! The trails are not rocky, so they’re easy to navigate.

Rocky Mouth Falls, Sandy, UT

In Sandy, you’ll find the trailhead for Rocky Mouth Falls at 11248 Wasatch Blvd. There is limited room for parking right at the trailhead, but it was easy for us to find parking along Wasatch Blvd not far from the trailhead. Alltrails lists this is a .7-mile out-and-back moderately strenuous hike. It felt a little longer than that to me, but I didn’t have a step-counter. Elevation gain is about 280 feet.

The trail begins with a steep staircase through the trees. At the top of the stairs, you’ll walk along a residential street for about half a block to reach the next portion of the trail. It’s a narrow opening, so keep your eyes open or you might miss it!  Also, don’t try to park further up the hill to avoid the steep staircase. Parking isn’t allowed in this portion of the neighborhood.

This is another hike with great views of the Salt Lake Valley.

What’s the hike like?

The Rocky Mouth Falls hike is mostly in the shade. Even at the end of May, I kept a sweatshirt on for this hike at 9:30 am. As I continued on the trail, I could eventually hear the waterfall even before I could see it. By this point, it is easy to spot the pretty little creek running downhill.

When I arrived at the waterfall, I had a choice to make. Walk in the creekbed to reach the base of the falls, or scramble up a rocky path to the left to reach a ledge with a view of the falls. Since I had no desire to get my feet wet, I opted for the ledge view. Behind me was a small cave from which I had wonderful views of the mountain above me.

The trail to the left seemed to continue, so I think I might have been able to climb to a point above the falls. Since I chose not to try it (remember the knee injury!), I don’t know for sure. If you know this trail or go hike it, comment below and let me know.

When I returned to my car, I spotted this beautiful lilac bush near the trailhead. I’m a sucker for flowers!

Lisa Falls, Little Cottonwood Canyon

The last hike I included was Lisa Falls. I guess I saved the best for last! If you only have time for one hike, this is the one to do. On this hike, you’ll get the most value for your time. It is a very short hike, with very little elevation gain (75 feet). While the trailhead is marked well on Google Maps, there is no sign at the trailhead or parking lot. There are parking lots on both sides of the highway and room to park along the highway as well. I guarantee you’ll enjoy the views driving up Little Cottonwood Canyon to get here. As soon as I got out of the car, I saw a deer not far from the highway. Love being close to nature!

Since the hike is only .2 miles up and back, it’s very quick. The trail is mostly shady but opens up to full sun exposure at the waterfall. Take the time to savor the beautiful trail and look back often to see the other side of the canyon. The waterfall itself is unique. The water drops down three tiers (that I could see anyway) sideways across the face of quartz monzonite cliffs. While I was there, a few climbers were set up with ropes to rappel down the waterfall. Looked a little crazy to me, but they seemed to know what they were doing.

Take Time to enjoy Lisa Falls

You can walk right up to the base of the waterfall, and there are plenty of large rocks to sit on for a picnic or just to rest. There’s even another tiny waterfall off to the left that flows into the stream. There were signs at the trailhead that said “no swimming, fishing, or wading,” so this is not a place where playing in the water is allowed.

Remember I mentioned to look back at the view to the other side of the canyon? This is what you’ll see!

I do wish I’d brought a picnic lunch for this hike. It was the most beautiful, and I would have liked to just sit there for awhile and enjoy nature. The air smelled so good, and it was incredibly refreshing. For how easy the hike was, I was surprised there weren’t more people. It wasn’t near as crowded as either of the other two hikes. But after three hikes and not having brought any snacks, I was a little tired and definitely getting hungry!

Summary of ‘Two Waterfalls and a Bridge’

You certainly don’t have to hike to two waterfalls and a bridge in one day like I did. But it’s definitely possible because none of these hikes are very long…and the trailheads are pretty close to each other. To be prepared, please follow these tips:

  • Start the more exposed hikes earlier in the day to avoid too much heat.
  • Bring enough water to stay hydrated.
  • Use sunscreen to protect your skin on the hikes that aren’t shady.
  • Bring some snacks for energy.
  • Use a small backpack to keep both hands free for climbing over rocks.
  • Bring a camera or your phone camera to capture the views!
  • None of these hikes required permits or fees.
  • My husband’s tracker totaled 5700 steps for the day, including walking from the car to each trailhead — not quite 3 miles.

Hope you enjoy these family-friendly hikes as much as I did!

I do enjoy hiking and have taken some more adventurous hikes. If you’re in San Diego, you might like reading Three Mountain Hikes and a Castle in San Diego County.  I’m also quite enamored with waterfalls. Be sure to check out Four Waterfalls near Manchester, TN You Have to See.

two waterfalls and a bridge

two waterfalls and a bridge

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 thoughts on “Two Waterfalls and a Bridge — Utah Family-Friendly Hikes

  1. Heather

    This was such an easy-to-read post and very informative! Thanks for all the behind-the-scenes information–it helps me choose the best one for my family with small kids! Beautiful photos, too! ⛰️

  2. Kathy

    Tami, thanks for the info for these hikes! I’m always looking for easy ones, and love being around water!

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