Day hikes

Cecret Lake (and our top secrets to hiking with a little one)!

This is one of our favorite local hikes to do once a summer/fall. We don’t go up Little Cottonwood Canyon more than that because it’s a watershed and we can’t bring Moonshine along. The wildflowers are beautiful this time of year. Also, you will see people of ALL ages on this trail so that tells me it’s relatively “easy” with a 1 mile hike up and 1 mile hike back down. Although, I will admit that when we first started hiking, this trail felt difficult to me. But as a more experienced hiker now, it feels like a walk to the mailbox 😂 which makes me happy because progress is always good!! >>>>>>>> Trail info here

Anyone who has ever hiked with a little one (or two or three) or hiked next to them on a trail knows it can be mentally exhausting to say the least. But you can do a little preparation and save yourself a little trouble! Here are our top tips for hiking with a little one (or more):

* Know before you go! Check out the all trails app and read other hiker’s latest comments before you get on the trail. This will save you a lot of trouble if you need to bring something extra for mosquitos or pay to park etc.

*Wear appropriate gear (especially footwear)! It’s really irritating to hear caregivers continuously saying on the trail, “don’t get your feet wet! Don’t get your feet dirty! If kids have appropriate hiking shoes, which helps protect their feet and little bodies, getting wet and dirty won’t be an issue (it’s part of the experience)!!!!

* Pack enough snacks. And then pack some more and maybe more after that 😂 if your hiker is anything like Connor, they’ll want to be eat before, during, during, during and after. Basically he eats nonstop. Ya feel me? *not pulling my hair out, just handing him another snack*

*Bring enough water or bring a filter if that’s part of your plan (we always make sure to drink a lot in the car before even starting)!

*Think about facilities…if your child may need to do some big business out there, bring TP, wipes, bags etc.

*If you don’t babywear, plan to give piggyback or shoulder rides if necessary.

*Encourage them to look for wildlife on the trail! This is always a hit!

*Remember that difficult journeys always lead to beautiful destinations! This is one that Connor is starting to understand well; he knows that it may be tough but it’s always worth it!

*Start them young and make it a priority! The more they experience regularly when they’re young, the more they’ll enjoy it as they age!

*Be excited! It’s contagious! When you’re excited, they will be too!

*Lower your expectations and have FUN!!!!!!!! When Connor was much younger, just being out there was enough. If we didn’t get to the final destination, oh well!!!

What are your top tips for hiking with little ones? We would love to hear them!

Camping · Day hikes · family

Silver Lake in American Fork, Utah (and how I finally learned to get out of my comfort zone)!

I haven’t always liked the wilderness. It’s true. I won’t deny it. Jerry and I have been together for 12 years and in the beginning of our relationship I went along with small hikes we had available to us when we were living in Kentucky at the time because he enjoyed it and I wanted to spend time with him and his interests. Jerry even went on quite a few 1-2 week long backpacking trips without me over the years and I had absolutely no interest in going with him.

It really wasn’t until Connor was born and we moved cross country to Utah that I started hiking more (as a family and at times by myself). And it wasn’t until this past spring that I vowed I would be much more involved because I love seeing him in his natural element and I hate missing out. Plus, Moonshine gives us a huge incentive to be outdoors, too.

Connor and Moonshine at Silver Lake last summer

Me on that same trip – my first time actually backpacking to camp!

Last summer when Connor turned 4, the boys went on a lot of camping trips and I only went on a couple with them. Connor had just self-weaned and my hormones were all out of whack so I kept fighting going, just feeling a general melancholy and wanting to stay home and be by myself. But I was missing out and I was feeling that disconnect too and I didn’t like that one bit. But how was I going to fix what was I was missing out on? Surely, it didn’t need to be as difficult as I was making it out to be.

On our overnight backpacking camp to one of our favorite local places last night, Silver Lake up American Fork Canyon, I had a huge realization that it’s really ironic that the very thing I was avoiding last year (and previously), would be the very same thing that actually brings me peace and more happiness? All I had to do was get out of my comfort zone and just camp. The world would not end if I was super sweaty and gross and didn’t get to have my normal evening bedtime routine. I could shower when I got home (and learn how to use biodegradable soap on the trip). If I didn’t sleep that well camping, I would sleep well again when we were back home. All of these “ifs” I was using as lame excuses became insignificant with the more adventures we had because they bring me true joy. This is pure happiness that has to be experienced firsthand. I am so thankful for my 3 boys who have put up with me to get to this point 😊

Jerry and I really want to bring friends along backpacking and camping who are interested in partaking in our adventures while learning more about the hobby as well. That’s something we’re working on now as we speak. If you’re local to us and interested in joining us, please reach out and let us know!

Come and join us!!!

Camping · Day hikes · family

Ibantik Lake Trail in the High Uinta Mountains

We have the wasatch front, a beautiful mountain range, just 30 minutes east of our house. On the other side of that range lies the Uinta Mountains, about a 90 minute drive. Last weekend, Momma had a nasty virus so Connor and Moonshine and I left her to rest and headed out for an overnight camp.

We chose Lake Ibantik as our final destination, a backcountry lake we felt would provide beauty and solitude. The trailhead parking lot was packed, but Connor and I weren’t worried, we figured the backcountry would be a lonely place despite the number of people hitting the trailhead. We came upon Wall Lake after 1 mile, a huge and beautiful lake that Moonshine enjoyed swimming in, but too crowded for our tastes. About a mile later we came upon a smaller lake with no people and plenty of salamanders. Connor really loved seeing them for the first time in the wild.

After playing for a bit, we continued our journey upward toward a saddle in the mountain. From the saddle you can see numerous lakes in every direction. We dropped down on the other side of the saddle and played in a snow patch for a while. Then it was a short hike to our final destination. We started a fire for s’mores (and to keep the bugs at bay). We also tried fishing but we’re still no good! We can’t wait to go back and take momma next time, and hopefully we’ll figure out how to be better fishermen by then!

Day hikes · family

What intentional living means to us: actions equal priorities

A few weeks ago, we said forget all the things we thought we “needed” to do and did what we WANTED to do! We threw stuff in a pack, picked up Connor from morning preschool, grabbed lunch on the way and headed 1 hour away to our favorite hot spring hike for the afternoon. We hiked 5 miles in the pouring rain (and weren’t expecting that but loved every second of it) and then we soaked in the warm water under a beautiful cold snowfall. Spontaneity definitely leads to pure joy! Living in the moment while doing what we want and love to do outdoors is what intentional living means to us. A neighbor recently said to us that we take full advantage of the beauty Utah has to offer us and it’s true, we do, and that’s why we moved cross country to be here. If anything is a true priority, you’ll find a way to make it happen ✌️

Camping · Day hikes

Upper and Lower Calf Creek Falls in Escalante

We have wanted to camp in the Escalante National Monument area for some time and finally made it happen. It’s about 4 1/2 hours from our house and we left a little later than we hoped we would (such is road tripping life with Connor and Moonshine….and momma – I’m a little slow sometimes but I try to hurry)!

When we arrived at the Upper calf creek falls area around 5pm, it was thundering and raining pretty hard so we decided to go find a place to set up our tent and wait it out a bit.

That was a really good choice because it gave us something to do and luckily the rain didn’t hang around for long. We set up our tent and then made s’mores at Connor’s request. I think we’ve finally figured out the secret to success for Jerry getting a fire going; if we eat one s’more without the marshmallow heated (thinking he won’t get it going) and then he does, we have one…or two more! I love that he never gives up; he says no one in this family is allowed to give up (we’re all pretty strong willed)!

After our snack, we headed back to the hike and got going following the cairns and Moonshine; he is such a great leader for us on trails and we are very lucky he is so obedient off leash!

If you had no idea what you were doing on this hike, it may be easy to get lost. The terrain is a mix of rock and sandy trails. The evening hike was a perfect time of day to go – perfect temperatures as one would expect on a hike in the desert in the evening. Moonshine loved the pool at the end (and we loved watching him cool off as always)!

We made it back to the car as the sun was starting to set and then back to our tent right at sunset. There was a full moon that lit up the whole sky and we all slept as well as you do with 2 adults, 1 little kid and 1 dog crammed in a 3 person backpacking tent 😊

At 6am, Connor sat straight up in the tent and was ready to go. If we were home he would have slept a couple more hours but when camping, he’s always up when the sun is up! Jerry packed up the tent while the rest of us warmed up in the car. We made a quick breakfast and drove to Lower Calf Creek Falls .

We were so thankful to start at 8am when there were still some chilly shaded spots. By the time we finished up the 5.5 miles nearing 1pm, it was getting pretty hot out (even though it was only in the 70’s)! There were lots of deer and lizards to see on the trail and plenty of breaks in the trail where Moonshine could access the water to cool down. And of course, the Falls were breathtaking and worth the entire trip.

Once again on this trip, we were reminded about the importance of lowering our expectations as traveling, hiking and camping with a 4 year old and dog is totally different than doing all of that alone as adults. We’re pretty realistic at this point but it always helps to remind ourselves to chill, just go with the flow and most importantly, to be proud of ourselves for even trying at all! We didn’t see a kiddo Connor’s age on either of the hikes we did on this trip!

To us, there is nothing better for him to have these experiences in nature. He always makes time to enjoy all the little things like climbing a tree, looking for treasures and insects, burning his marshmallows extra crisp, sitting in the sand to rest and looking for fish while Moonshine takes a dip. I never loved adventures quite like I do now seeing his excitement for all these little things (which are big things to him) and that is why we continue to make family outdoor adventures our top priority!

Battle Creek Falls Trail · Camping · Day hikes · Uncategorized

Battle Creek Falls Trail overnight camp

We kicked off our family camping season at the end of April with an overnight camp up Battle Creek Falls Trail in Pleasant Grove, Utah.

Jerry found us an awesome hidden spot to set up camp about 2 1/2 miles up.

The coolest thing about this trip was an encounter with what we now know was a ruffed grouse. When we first set up camp, I thought there was a bug in my ear! I felt this low sound deep in my ear and I had no idea what it could be! And the the boys started feeling it, too. A little later about 20 yards from our tent, I saw something flutter in the distance on a log when I also heard the sound. Could it be a bird?! We all set forth to investigate. It was so still, at first Jerry didn’t believe me there was actually a bird on a log. Moonshine chased him up into a tree and it took us a few minutes to find him again because he was camouflaged so well. He continued to flap his wings and make this sound throughout the entire night (it didn’t keep us up, we just heard it when we were awake). They have a low vibrating sound that sounds almost like an engine trying to start up hot can’t. You can really feel it, not just “hear” it which was so awesome to experience as a family! Ruffed grouse

We are looking forward to LOTS of adventures this spring, summer and fall. Thanks for always planning everything out, sweets!!! We love you!!

Day hikes

Antelope island state park

Click here for park info
Our family has been making the hour trip to Antelope Island a handful of times a year since we moved to SLC 3 plus years ago. It’s best to come in early spring or mid fall (anytime in-between results so many bugs in the air it can be difficult to walk comfortably through them). The state park is also a great place to see antelope and bison when you can spot them!


Today Connor, Moonshine and I had quite the adventure at the island by ourselves. Our favorite spot to park at is the ladyfinger camping site. There is a soft sandy path from this parking lot down to this beach which we always enjoy. 

It’s fun to find animal prints in the sand!


While Moonshine and I take this photo….

Connor was having his own adventure!

On the way back to the car, Connor told me he had to poop RIGHT NOW! So that’s not Moonshine’s poop I’m holding but it is in his poop bags 😂 Connor kept saying he didn’t have to bring his toilet seat when we camp now and he could squat outside like us (yay – finally – no more strapping that huge toilet seat to our pack)! 


See what I mean? Hilarious!


When we finally made our way back to the car, I threw our coats in the car, my backpack and apparently my keys, too. I accidentally locked us out without realizing it! I stopped a passerby and asked to use their phone then called Jerry to tell him we needed help. Connor, Moonshine and I sat on the cold ground for about 1 hour plus until he arrived to help us out. In the whole time, no one passing ever asked us if we needed help (which was a good lesson for me to teach Connor about being observant and asking people if they need help if they look like they may). 

So there we have it – a funny adventure and a somewhat scary one (being stranded is always a little nerve-wracking) all in one outing! And I cannot believe Connor is over 4 years old and this is the first time I’ve locked us out of the car! Things just always feel a little more hectic with a kiddo and a dog in tow, ya know?! 

One of my favorite photos at the island when Connor was a little over 3 years old.

One more from a year ago….the shirt sure fits today’s experience and lesson, doesn’t it?

Day hikes

Fifth water hot spring trail – a must see and experience!

Look at the color of this water 😍


Trail info and directions – click here

In September, the boys did an overnight camp at this location in Spanish Fork, Utah and raved about how much they loved it. 

So a few days ago, I returned with them for the 5 mile out and back hike and we enjoyed a dip in the hot springs while our dog, Moonshine, kept watch. And then 4 days later I took Connor and Moonshine by myself because we loved it so much we had to go back again!

It’s a relatively easy hike (Connor let us wear him in our Tula most of the hike so we made good time) and the colors of the leaves are gorgeous this time of year. There were enough spots easily accessible for Moonshine to take a dip in the water himself which we always appreciate. We were able to filter our own water as well. Connor loves to help Jerry filter water and I am amazed that by 4 years old, he already understands the dos and don’ts and how to of filtering his own water! 

*This is a popular location so we recommend getting there as early as possible to get the best spots in the hot springs and to get a parking spot of course.