5 Fall Leaf Viewing Destinations in Utah to Visit Even with Back Pain!

As I was backpacking with our local scout troop over the weekend, I was shocked by how vibrant and colorful our fall leaves are this year.  Hiking through the beautiful mountains was amazing and made me grateful I live in such an amazing place.

Sleeping on the ground while backpacking has become a bit more painful as I have gotten older though.  It used to be that I could sleep without a pad, and be fine with a rock or two poking into my kidneys, but that is not as much the case anymore.  I woke up with my shoulder hurting, and then had quite the stiff back.

Having some back pain, along with seeing some amazing fall views, got me thinking about my back patients and how I try to get them to be as active as possible.  During this time of year, taking a drive, and possibly a hike, to view leaves is a great way to stay active.  It may also help with your mood and stress level too!

Here are 5 great destinations for fall leaf viewing in Utah County!


  1. Pine HollowThis is one of my favorite short hikes and is where I was backpacking over the weekend. A short drive up American Fork canyon, just .5 miles past Mutual Dell campground you will find a parking lot with a trailhead right across the street.  The parking lot is a great place to take pictures of the leaves, but if you want a real treat, hike up the Pine Hollow trail which winds through the trees and opens into a large meadow at 1.2 miles.  You can then continue on through a great network of trails or make your way back to the car.  The views of Timpanogos are amazing!
  2. Silver LakeAlso up American Fork Canyon, take the turn to Tibble Fork, then stay on the paved road until just before the granite flats campground, you will find a dirt road. Take this dirt road on an amazing ride up to Silver Lake Flats.

    The road has been maintained better in recent years, but it is probably a good idea to have a car with a little more clearance, although I have seen mini vans and small cars on it.  At the North end of Silver Lake Flats you will see a trail head for Silver Lake.This trail head, along with the whole drive up gives some amazing views, but if you want an adventure, take the short hike to Silver Lake which is 4.5 miles round trip.  There is quite a bit of elevation change, but it is totally worth it when you get to the lake.
  3. Squaw Peak RoadEvery year when I was young, we would take drive up the Squaw Peak road to look at leaves. It is just a few miles up Provo Canyon, and is still one of my favorites.If you are in a vehicle with more clearance, consider taking the dirt road behind Squaw Peak which turns off to the left just before the lookout.  This goes through Hope Campground, and opens up into amazing views of Cascade Mountain and the valley.You can take this road as far as you want, and eventually come out in Hobble Creek Canyon above Springville, but even a short drive is worth it.
  4. Alpine LoopOne of the most popular drives to look at leaves has to be the Alpine Loop. If you don’t mind traffic, and want to stick to the pavement, this is your destination.  The Alpine Loop starts at the mouth of American Fork Canyon, and goes up and over to Sundance in Provo Canyon.There are quite a few pull outs to stop and take pictures, and even a few awesome places to take a short hike.  One place I would recommend stopping is at the summit parking lot.  There are many short trails you can wander on and get some amazing views of Timpanogos as well as both canyons.
  5. Diamond ForkAbout 11 miles from Spanish Fork, up Spanish Fork Canyon, take a left into Diamond Fork. Just the drive up American Fork Canyon makes for a good leaf viewing experience, but Diamond Fork is a little more out of the way and can offer some great Fall views.If you are more adventurous, you can even do the 2.5 mile hike to the Diamond Fork Hot Springs, but keep in mind, it is a hot spot for skinny dipping.

There are so many other places to go to view the Fall leaves.  Just getting out of the house and doing something active can significantly help back pain and improve your stress levels along with your overall health.

If you would like to learn more about easing back pain or sciatica which may be stopping you from getting out there and being active, check out my FREE Report on Busting 6 Back Pain Myths.  In it, I also give some suggestions on how to ease back pain and get on the road to recovery.

Please email me with any questions you have, or if you have a great hike or Fall destination I should try out!  david@utahphysicaltherapy.com

David Butler, Physical Therapist