Utah: Stewart Falls Hike
Last Monday, Memorial Day, we had the day off, and an appreciated freedom to go outside and explore around us. We decided to hike Stewart Falls — only a 15–20 minute drive from where Matt and I live — along with our friend Katie.
Stewart Falls was listed as an "easy" 3.5 miles out and back hike. I think any hike in Utah that has a semi-paved trail with trail markers and is under 5 miles is considered easy. This hike is relatively easy in the sense that there is a clear trail, and has minimal slopes, but it's not a casual walk in the park easy. You definitely feel like you had a good work-out by the end of it.
I'd recommend to start the hike as early as possible. We got to the Aspen Grove parking lot at 8:30am (the lot is just past the Alpine Loop paid entrance which opens at 9am, so you may miss the payment part if you get there beforehand).
There's a clear path to the falls. The best part about the trail is even without going to see the falls, it's an absolutely beautiful hike with incredible viewpoints along the way. This time of year is so vividly green too! Everything feels brand new.
After the 3.5 miles, you get to an overlook of the waterfall. You can see the water going into the mountains in the distance, people down below, and the waterfall above. There's a slightly steeper trail going down to get to the water below. It felt harder going down than when we came back up — it was a lot quicker and shorter than I initially thought.
Once you're at the bottom of the falls, you can dip your hand in the refreshing water. It's the right kind of cold. Some people went under the falls and got soaked. I thought about it, except walking back like that wasn't very appealing without some kind of towel or change of clothes, so I decided against it.
There's two levels to the waterfall, and you can take a short, but steep and sliding climb up to that second level to see small pool of water. I wouldn't recommend it for kids, but it was kind of fun to see another viewpoint and watch Matt almost surf down the dirt slope.
We saw many people as we hiked back. I was really glad we got there early as it was also getting more hot. I also hadn't even thought about the limited parking, but as we came out to the parking lot and saw cars parked along the side of the mountain road going as far down as I could see, I realized another reason for getting there early.
Because we had time, and it really was a beautiful day, we decided to drive the rest of Alpine Loop through to American Fork. I love this drive, and I've only really seen it during the fall so this was a special treat.
Speaking of treats, it was about noon by the time we drove through the loop and we were ready for some good food. Katie suggested Purple Turtle, well-known for their milkshakes, and we didn't need any convincing. I got a combination oreo and cookie dough milkshake. I have no regrets.
This hike could not have been any better. Between the views, the waterfall, the drive and lunch after really culminated into a great excursion. I had apprehensions about Utah, but having access to places like this makes me love it even more.