The dramatic topography around Park City that makes it so well-suited to skiing also makes it ideal for hiking. One of my favorite hikes during our recent trip to Utah was on the property of The Lodge at Blue Sky, which led through mountain meadows up to the Tavern — a converted and transplanted 19th-century schoolhouse — where our efforts were rewarded with a gourmet picnic. But of course, it’s not necessary to stay at that resort to enjoy great hiking.
We walked to a trailhead right from downtown Park City. Take the stairs located at about 597 Park Avenue up to Woodside Avenue, where you’ll see a narrow trail continuing uphill. It leads to a gravel road that doubles as the Quit’N Time ski run, affording fine views over the center of Park City. We continued gently uphill by following Sweeney’s Switchbacks, which lead through scrub oak and pine groves as they weave up the slope, passing beneath the Town Lift from time to time. Gaps in the foliage afforded memorable views of the valley containing Park City.
We also tried a hike farther afield, stopping at the panoramic Empire Pass viewpoint en route to the Bloods Lake trailhead. The ample new parking lot had already started to fill by the time we arrived at 9:30 a.m. (early enough to avoid the summer heat but late enough to enjoy a civilized breakfast). We crossed the road and started along the trail, which greeted us with a succession of aspen stands, their white trunks gleaming against the blue sky and emerald leaves. In between the groves of aspens and conifers were steep mountain meadows, ablaze with crimson, purple and golden wildflowers. Every now and then, a break allowed us to see for miles down a sweeping valley. We passed people with regularity, but not so much so that the trail felt crowded.
The hike was relatively easy except for the last leg, a steady uphill slog to Bloods Lake itself. The lake has no murderous history of which I’m aware; its name comes from a former governor of Utah, Henry H. Blood. A peninsula near the end of the trail is a popular spot for photographers, and it’s also possible to circumnavigate the lake on a path through pine forest. We headed to the right, where an enchanting expanse of buttercups led from the path to the shore. Nearby, we observed two young women taking photos of each other. “I’m going to stand on that stump in the lake — can you take a picture?” I suspected that her plan would not end well. A small marsh stood between her and her intended pedestal. And indeed, before she even reached the log, she encountered mud so thick that she became stuck, requiring a rescue!
This hike, which takes 90 minutes to two hours round-trip, requires only a moderate fitness level. The path is well-maintained — it was refurbished in 2019 — and only the uphill section at the end is a bit strenuous. We spotted families with young children as well as people in their 70s on the trail. It’s an ideal way to get some scenic exercise.