Bear Canyon Suspension Bridge Trail
Your Guide to a Unique Hiking Experience

Bear Canyon Suspension Bridge

Ditching the ordinary, the Bear Canyon Suspension Bridge Trail, not far from downtown Salt Lake City, serves as a wonderful hiatus from the world below.  What will be the result of moving this one up your hiking wish list?  You will find this trail to be a special place particularly as the state welcomes the dynamic tones of autumn.

Located in Draper, Utah, the Bear Canyon Suspension Bridge Trail stretches across approximately 3.3 miles of mixed terrain.  It normally takes about 1 ½ hours to complete.  Draper is situated at the extreme southeast corner of the Salt Lake valley. 

Now, why should you choose the Bear Canyon Trail over the countless other scenic trails around Salt Lake City?  The answer is simple and alluring.  A unique suspension bridge crowns the summit of the trail providing a completely unique hiking experience.

The autumn season adds a distinct charm to this hike.  As this trek is ideally located at the lower elevations of the front range of the Wasatch Mountains, the fall colors are especially vivid.

The orange and red hues of oak leaves accompanied by the yellow splashes from maples and cottonwoods make for a fusion of autumnal colors that warms the soul.

Labelled as an easy to moderate level trail, whether you are a seasoned hiker or someone looking to delve into the world of hiking, Bear Canyon Suspension Bridge Trail offers a delightful balance.  It offers a time-saving test for veteran hikers but is also an achievable and rewarding one for beginners.

Orson Smith Trailhead

With notable activity options like hiking, walking, bird watching, or even running (the altitude changes are gradual) if you're the adventurous type, this trail caters to varied interests.  But remember, be respectful and keep your dogs on a leash as the trail allows for them.

The trail is best enjoyed from April until October but it truly shines in the autumn months when the colors are at their most vibrant and the temperatures are comfortable for hiking.

The trail itself is not just limited to hiking.  With mountain bikers often making use of the lower sections of the trail, it is not uncommon to share part of your journey with two-wheeled explorers.  Camaraderie in the great outdoors makes life so much more enjoyable.

The main highlight of the Bear Canyon Suspension Bridge Trail, of course, is the intriguing suspension bridge.  This unique architectural feature is extremely well-designed and delights hikers midway through the trail adding an element of excitement and novelty to the hike.  Not to mention, it's a picture-perfect spot to use your smartphone camera.

Walking across it can be a little disconcerting for some as the bottom of the canyon below is a long way down.  In fact, my oldest daughter … who doesn’t like heights … wouldn’t cross the bridge.  She hiked back down and met us where the two trails met. 

Bear Creek Trail View

I don’t like heights either but it really didn’t bother me as it a strong, sturdy, modern walking bridge.  It is quite wide so there’s no need to hang near the sides if you don’t want to. 

Whether you are hiking up to the bridge or making your way down, panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and especially of the valley below are presented all along the trail.  Their beauty is magnified in the autumn when the valley and surrounding hills are painted with hues of red, yellows and oranges.

The trail can get quite busy over the weekends.  Many hikers, attracted by the unique allure and accessibility of the trail, find themselves guided through its twists and turns when their schedule allows – on the weekend.  However, the crowd is usually a mellow, respectful one … often a family group … inclined to appreciate and preserve the natural beauty around them.

Early morning or late evening hikes during weekdays might allow you a more solitary experience if you want a little more peace and tranquility.  The landscape bathed in the golden glow of the rising or setting sun adds a different dimension to the overall hiking experience.

The charm of the Bear Canyon Suspension Bridge Trail doesn't end at the trail itself but extends into the surrounding area as well.  Mini-breaks for relaxed picnics along the trail or a time-out session to enjoy the panorama below promises an enjoyable experience beyond the physical trails.

Bear Canyon Suspension Bridge Sign

With respect to parking, there is plenty available at the Orson Smith Trailhead.  Google it.  It is easy to find.  In case you’ve got your four-legged buddy tagging along, remember that the trail mandates leashed pets for the safety and well-being of all who are using the trail.  I know it’s hard to believe but some people simply don’t want to be besties with your dog.

Basic necessities like water, snacks and good hiking shoes are all things you should take despite the relative “easiness” of this hike.  It still takes 1 ½ hours and if done during the summer, can tax your sweat glands. 

For you shutterbugs, don't forget your camera!  Or … need I even say … your smartphone camera.  Document your journey through the autumn-painted landscapes, the grandeur of the suspension bridge and perhaps some occasional wildlife too.  It's these visual memories that re-ignite our love for the outdoors even more.

For those who want a longer adventure, Bear Canyon Suspension Bridge Trail can be your starting gate for longer excursions.  Branch off from it to trek the surrounding Bonneville Shoreline Trail for an extended journey.

Last but not least, remember to respect the trail rules and preserve the area’s natural beauty.  Leave no trace behind of your visit apart from the footprints that will fade and take back only the memories and photos of the splendid views and heartwarming hues.

View From Bear Canyon Suspension Bridge

For its uniqueness, ease of access and the variety it offers, Bear Canyon Suspension Bridge Trail finds a special place on the to-hike list of residents and tourists alike.  The suspension bridge is more than just a construction of cables and footpaths. 

It is an interesting testament to man's ability to create structures that blend seamlessly into nature.  It adds a delightful surprise to an already enjoyable hike.  And will probably have you asking “How did they build that?”

In the end, regardless of your hiking prowess, one thing is guaranteed, you will remember this hike.  Memories of scenic trails, talks with family and friends, the exhilaration of crossing the suspension bridge and an incomparable display of autumn colors all under the Utah sky just a stone's throw from Salt Lake City.

The conclusion?  Bear Canyon Suspension Bridge trail is certainly worth ticking off your hiking itinerary especially in autumn.  We loved it and can’t wait until we do it again.

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