The Fishlake National Forest is one of Utah's hidden gems. Out-of-state travelers often pass it by on I-15 as they drive between Salt Lake City and the red rocks of southern Utah. Locals know that away from the interstate you're greeted with sweeping mountain ranges, leafy forests, and open meadows bisected by meandering streams. In one visit, you can fish for massive trout on Fish Lake, hike through mining ruins in Bullion Canyon, or take a wild mountain-bike ride on the state's most thrilling singletrack. When Utah's long summer ends, the fun is just getting started. In the fall, the aspen groves turn an almost neon shade of yellow, and winter brings heavy snow that's perfect for skiing, snowmobiling, and ice fishing.
Enjoy the views of Fish Lake from Section 2 of the Lakeshore National Recreation Trail. This route is easily accessible; it starts at the trailhead near Bowery Haven Resort. From the resort, you'll climb high above the lake to Pelican Point. The point is a great place to rest and enjoy the panoramic vistas. Section 2 continues downhill to Lake Creek. There's another trailhead at Lake Creek, so you can leave a second car there as a shuttle or make the return trip for a fun out-and-back hike. If you're up for a longer trip, it's another 5.5 miles to the third overlook on Mytoge Mountain.
Length: 5 miles round-trip
Some of the best views in Fishlake National Forest are found on the Skyline National Recreation Trail. The path lives up to its name — it climbs steadily from the Big Flat Trailhead, taking you high into the Tushar Mountains. After the initial push, you'll hike along ridgelines, enjoying 360-degree views. July through October is the best time to go; in October, the changing leaves add bold swathes of yellow to the mountainsides.
Length: 17.5 miles one way
Hike to a beautiful 75-foot waterfall on the Bullion Falls Trail. From the Bullion Falls Trailhead on Bullion Canyon Road, it's about 1 mile to the falls. From there, you can keep hiking to access the five different trails in the canyon. The trip to the waterfall is relatively easy, but the remainder of the trails can be exceptionally challenging. Make sure to wear sturdy boots to protect your ankles on the rocky ground, and bring plenty of water.
Length: 2 miles round-trip
Intensity: Moderate to Difficult
The Middle Ranger Trail starts on Sun Glow Road, just before the Sunglow Campground. You may also see it called the Durfey Canyon Trail or the Boy Scouts Trail. From the trailhead, the path travels up into Crescent Canyon, continuing on to Red Canyon. It's a beautiful hike if you're looking for a great workout and excellent red rock views. Keep an eye on the trail as it can be challenging to follow in some sections.
Length: 5.5 miles round-trip
If you're interested in Utah's gold-mining history, head to the Miner's Park Interpretive Trail. This short, easy walk takes you through a historic mining settlement. As you hike through the forest, you can check out the Mill Stables, a boarding house, an old cabin, and a gold mine. This area tends to be cool and breezy, with plenty of shade. There's plenty to see along the way, so it's a fun hike to do with kids.
Length: 2.5 miles
Spend a pleasant afternoon hiking through forested mountains on the City Creek Trail. Starting from City Creek Campground, it follows the South Fork of City Creek. When the creek is running, the valley is green and beautiful with lots of shade. At the 3-mile mark, you can turn around for an easy day hike or keep going on the Skyline Trail.
Length: 6 miles round-trip
If you want to get off the beaten path and enjoy the Fishlake National Forest in relative solitude, head to Indian Creek Trail #054. It starts at the Indian Creek Trailhead and travels for more than 20 miles until it ends at the Cove Creek Trailhead. Keep in mind that this route starts at 7,900 feet and includes plenty of climbs and descents; come prepared with a supply of water, and leave plenty of time for rest. The trail is occasionally used by horses, but you'll usually have long sections to yourself.
Length: 20 miles one way
Bring your fishing gear to Fish Lake to catch perch or one of the enormous lake trout that live in the cool waters. Motorized and non-motorized boats are welcome; there are several boat ramps on the western shore. For shore fishing, head to the reservoir at Indian Creek, and cast for rainbow trout.
Geocaching is permitted throughout the Fishlake National Forest. Some notable sites are the old plane crash site, Pando Grove, and Redview guard station.
After dark, spend time outside enjoying the forest's fantastic stargazing. Most sites offer a clear view, but the southern end and eastern side have the lowest levels of light pollution.
Address: 115 East 900 North, Richfield, UT 84701
Fee: Entry fee $0
The Fishlake National Forest is one of Utah's most underrated gems — you can hike, bike, and fish without ever encountering a crowd. With its year-round adventure and spectacular scenery, this forest is perfect for a weekend camping trip or a full family vacation. Bring an RV for comfortable camping in all kinds of mountain weather.