Those seeking a moderately family-friendly hike near Park City should consider Bloods Lake Trail. This trail was renovated in 2019 to make it more environmentally friendly and easier to navigate. Prior to that, the Blood Lake area was privately owned and slated for development, but Park City stepped in, purchased the land with the help of a private donor, and have been working diligently to conserve its abundant natural beauty. The trail is 6.5 miles southeast of Park City and is about a 15-minute drive.
Bloods Lake Trail Basics
The average hiker can complete this circular, 2.8 mile trail in less than an hour and 15 minutes without counting rest stops to enjoy the view or attend to children. Although this trail is relatively short, its ascent and decline are moderately steep, so be sure to take that into consideration if you're hiking with young children. The good news is that there are plenty of places to stop and enjoy the surrounding natural beauty, enjoy a light snack and a beverage, take photographs and videos, and give the children a chance to recharge. Also, you'll probably want to spend some time at Bloods Lake at the bottom of the trail whether you've got kids in tow or not. The trail is relatively flat until it's time to descend to the lake.
The Trailhead & When It's Open
The trailhead is located on Guardsman Pass on Old State Route 152. Although there is a parking lot in front of the trailhead, it's often full at peak times due to the popularity of this trail, and there are only 40 spots. Local law enforcement has been known to issue tickets to vehicles that are parked on the shoulder of the road. Try to go early to avoid the crowds and help ensure a parking spot. You'll see a big new sign marking the start of the trail. You'll find pit-style restrooms at the Trailhead. Due to heavy snowfall amounts, Guardsman Pass is typically open from May until October. However, late or early snow storms may cause the road to be closed during other times.
You'll see a variety of alpine flora on the hike, and you might even see some wild animals depending on the timing of your visit.
Animals and Plants
Early in the morning or near dusk, you might see a herd of deer or elk, a lone moose making its way through the high grass, or a graceful eagle soaring across the sky. In late spring, you might see a flock of sandhill cranes as they stop for a rest on their way north for the summer or meadows full of blooming wildflowers as you come around the corner on a wooded part of the trail. Wildflowers you might see include mountain bluebells, rock clematis, longleaf phlox, and common yarrow, which is Utah's state flower. During early autumn, you'll see plenty of gleaming golden foliage in the dense Aspen stands that intertwine with towering conifers.
Swimmable, emerald-green Bloods Lake lies at the bottom of the trail and serves as its turnaround point. The trail continues around the lake and reconnects with itself to meander back up to the trailhead. This high alpine lake is small, clean, and comes complete with rock formations, peninsulas, and even an island. Perhaps best of all, it's got an old-school rope swing for those who want to take a break from their hike and enjoy a swim.
Before You Go
Bloods Lake Trail is a hiking-only trail, which means it's available for use only by those on foot. Because it's a conservation area, camping is not allowed here. Since its restoration in 2019, Bloods Lake has been designated as a watershed restoration area and is also a direct drinking water source for a local girl scout camp, which means that dogs are no longer allowed on the trail. Although snacks and beverages are allowed here, visitors to Bloods Lake Trail are asked to be mindful about packing everything out that they bring in.
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- Parking can be scarce, so be sure to arrive early.
- Make sure you bring plenty of water.
- Dogs are not allowed on this trail.
- Bathrooms are available.