We read about a cool, short hike that would be perfect to take the kids on down in Utah county, near Payson. It had a waterfall, tons of bridges, a grotto (a cavern-like recess—I had to look that one up :), was fairly well shaded and was only about a half a mile, round trip.
Literally the perfect hike for a mom alone with 4 small children, or so I thought. Apparently every other human in the entire area had the same thought though, because despite going in the middle of the day on a Friday, it was PACKED!
Crowded as in, waiting so long to cross the bridges that my kids gave up and started wading through the water instead. I had plans to try to set up a tripod and practice taking some of those cool waterfall photos… no chance of that though, there was never a time that the waterfall wasn’t surrounded by people packed in waiting for a quick turn to stand under the falls. I brought our Kelty hiking carrier for the 2-year-old, but really was almost over prepared for just going about a ¼ of a mile each way. He easily could have walked it and would have only needed help crossing the bridges.
Our kids love the old, “Going On a Bear Hunt” rhyme and this hike was perfect for that. Every little obstacle, real or imagined, was greeted by a chorus of “Uh, oh, a ________, we can’t go under it, we can’t go over it, oh no, we’ve got to go through it!” followed by them splashing across the water or rushing up a hill. There was even that little cave-like grotto at the end for them to pretend was the bear’s cave.
Kids just seem to make everything into a fun adventure!
When you get to the falls at the end there is a little space to stand on dry ground, but most of the area, including the grotto, is covered by a couple of inches of water so be sure to bring footwear that can get wet just for exploring near the waterfall (or if it is overly crowded and you need to cross through the stream, rather than over it!).
It really was an amazing hike, short, well marked, easy to access, lots of parking, but oh man, those crowds really did turn me off to the whole experience. We may have to try going during a less popular season next time.
0.6 miles out and back
To reach the trailhead from the north, follow 600 East in Payson as it goes south into Payson Canyon. This becomes the Nebo Scenic loop Road. Signs show the way. The trailhead is about 7 miles up the road. (You can also reach the trailhead by driving north on the loop, from Hwy 132 east of Nephi.)