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Hiking Maple Lake
In the Mountains above Mapleton, Utah, a challenging course and exquisite beauty lie in the wooded area. The hike to what is know as Maple Lake is popular to the locals from the Mapleton/Springville area, but not many other people know about it.
In the same area there is Provo canyon, Diamond Fork Canyon, Spanish Fork Canyon and Hobble Creek Canyon, so many times the small Mapleton Canyon is overlooked, forgotten or never even known of. Despite its size as a smaller canyon in the area, I believe it to be one of the prettiest I have ever seen.
The hike begins at the top of Whiting Campground in Mapleton. It is about 10 miles all together at a steep incline all the way to the top. Depending on the pace of your group this hike could take anywhere from 4-8 hours.
The group I traveled in took a fairly slow pace due to the fact that there were 8 of us. We rested a lot and goofed off, and once we had reached our two destinations we stayed for quite a while at both and the nearby mountain summit. So in all, we started at about 7:30 am and finished at about 5 pm! We made it quite a long day of hiking!
It was well worth it! This part of the Wasatch Front looks similar to the Heber area, but has its own distinctions that make it its own. There are many aspens and pine trees, surrounded by wildflowers and of course the beautiful riverbank.
My group played games and talked the whole way up the trail. There were hills that were still completely covered in snow, and we laughed as we fell through and got our legs stuck periodically. We enjoyed resting on the trail, snacking, singing, and just made a ton of fun out of it.
It was still early in the season (end of May), and the weather was chilly. The people that had the best luck seemed to be those who dressed in layers. It is cold around the snow and up at the lake where it is high-elevation. But there were some times when you were grateful you had shorts underneath your sweatpants! Be sure to have good, broken in hiking shoes, and a warm jacket over a warmer-weather shirt. The snow most likely melts by the end of June, depending on the year. The August weather would make the hiking conditions extremely warm. Make sure to have a Camelback or a couple of water bottles no matter what season you hike Maple Lake in.
After the snowfields and a couple more hills, hikers will hit the small lake. It is formed by the snow and water runoff from the peaks. It dries up later in the summer but when we were there it was as full as ever! We stayed and rested at the lake, ate lunch and played around for quite a while. My friends noticed a large log resting in the water. It was slightly hollowed and looked like it could potentially be a kind of a boat. Well it wasn't ideal, but it did work for me. It was fun and it passed the time. Once it started leaking and breaking apart we figured that the water was too cold to risk trying it more!
Our group then decided to hike up to the summit that overlooks the entire Utah Valley. As we started hiking up a ridge, it was decided that it was too snowed in to go up to the summit, but the next peak over looked passable. The summit is the highest point in the area, but the peak that we hiked to was only slightly lower. It was beautiful and entirely worth it. We ended up directly above Spanish Fork but could see past Payson, and all the way to Point of the Mountain. None of us could believe that that hike took us so far up!
After signing our names on a bottle message we found on top (it told us to leave our names and when we were there - we decided to head back down. Downhill turned out to be a whole lot easier, in fact almost no effort at all, the whole 400 yards (just estimating) back to the lake. One face of the mountain was entirely a rockslide. And after two steps and falling, we all found it easier to just sit down and navigate with our legs and hands. Down about 200 feet we went. (And my pants didn't even rip!) Then we walked straight by a stream for a minute, which was followed by snow glaciers. The snowy hill took us straight down beside the lake and our packs. Rather than climbing down such a steep slope we easily decided to sled down on our bottoms! It was great, and very steep (meaning fast!). Four of us even decided to climb back up the big hill and do it again! It seemed colder that time, but to me it was so worth it.
Our group then split into two groups of four. Some people had to be back earlier than others, so four of them took off while the rest of us waited for to all reunite back at the lake. Once the rest of us were set to go, we were back on the trail going home.
We took a different route back than we did up. We followed a small trail beside the river until it took us back to the main trail. We got the opportunity to slide down some more snowfields and fall into the river some more! No, not all of us fell in, just me. It was sad. And cold. But the way back was even more dazzling, I thought. The trail was shaded by trees and the sun was streaming in. It was better overall because it was a lot easier than the way up! But both ways, no matter the trail, was as gorgeous as nature ever was.
It is a great area for family traditions, friends to have an adventure or even alone to collect your thoughts and test your strengths!