Wasatch Front : Logan (Utah)
Logan is a fair-sized town and is growing rapidly, located in the Wasatch Front region of northern Utah. The town is home to Utah State University, a state school with approximately 23,000 students. Logan offers a wealth of outdoor activities, including some excellent hiking, mountain biking, sport climbing, kayaking, fly-fishing, and skiing. Luckily, Logan remains relatively undiscovered, so many of these activities can be experienced in far less crowded conditions than those found in other, similar areas of the US.
Cache Valley has very unpredictable and extreme weather compared to the urban centers of the Wasatch Front. Winters are very cold, with daytime temperatures rarely getting above freezing and overnight lows frequently dropping below 0F (-18C). Snow is less frequent than in Salt Lake City but the individual storms are usually larger. Cache Valley also has one of the worst inversions in the state, in which cold, moist air and pollutants can become trapped in the valley. A simple five minute ride up any of the cayons will get you out of the inversion and into some of the most beautiful winter mountain landscapes in all of Utah. Spring and Fall are wild and feature frequent temperature changes with possibilities of snow as early as October and as late as May. Summer is cooler than in Salt Lake City but still hot, with daytime temperatures generally ranging from 75F (24C) to 95F (35C) - they rarely reach above 100F (38C). It is, however, far enough north that it avoids most of the summer thunderstorms. Although the city is cozy and the surrounding terrain is spectacular, the unpredictable weather is a turnoff for some. Others find the changing weather enjoyable and enjoy spend time outdoors taking in the many recreactional oppertunities throughout the valley and its many canyons.
Drive north on I-15 from Salt Lake City. Take exit 362 (Brigham City), and follow US 89/91 through the mountains (unofficially referred to as Sardine Canyon) into Cache Valley. The drive should take about 75-90 minutes. US 89 and 91 split in downtown Logan. US 89 heads east through the beautiful Logan Canyon to Bear Lake (Utah), a popular tourist destination, while US 91 heads north into Idaho. A regional airport also serves Logan although no commercial commuter flights are available at this time. Alternately you can also take I-15 N and take Exit 351 for Willard. The short UT126 section branches off towards US-89 for Logan and Ogden. Keep left at that fork and follow the road till you reach Brigham City and then the right lane will lead you towards Logan. This route is 7 miles shorter and a more comfortable drive with very little traffic.
Driving, riding the bus, walking, and cycling are convenient ways to get around town. Free municipal buses serve Logan and surrounding communities with a simple route system that radiates out from the transit center every half hour. All buses are equipped to carry two or three bicycles. Main Street is heavily used and often congested but parallel streets often provide faster access within Logan. Utah State University, on the east side of town, sits on the Provo Bench of ancient Lake Bonneville, about 250 feet higher than downtown Logan. This elevation difference is a major deterrent to non-motorized transportation. Streets throughout the old grid part of town are wide, thanks to the admonition of Brigham Young to lay out early Utah cities with streets wide enough to turn a double-team of horses and a buck-board around, so there is plenty of room for cyclists.
Hiking and mountain biking are very popular in the summer but varied elevation change significantly affects outdoor activity seasons. Low, south facing trails like the Wind Caves can often be hiked as early as March, while areas above 9000' are usually not hikeable until late June or early July, maintaining broad areas of snow until August. Temperature varies with elevation as well, usually temps at 8000' are 20F cooler than in Logan, and increasingly colder with elevation gain. Summer hail and rain storms are common in high areas when there is no precipitation in Logan.
Hike the Wind Caves trail. 2.6 mile round trip, 900' elevation gain. The trail winds up the north side of Logan Canyon, through maple groves, to a small formation of caves and arches. Offers a beautiful view down into the canyon as well. Trailhead is ~5 miles up US 89 into Logan Canyon, located on the north side of the road opposite Guinavah-Malibu Campground.
Hike the Naomi Peak trail. 5.8 mile round trip, 1980' elevation gain. Naomi Peak (9980’) is the highest point in the Bear River Range. The trail leads through meadows full of wildflowers to the peak, which offers spectacular views of the surrounding peaks and of Cache Valley. Trailhead is located at Tony Grove Lake. Take US 89 approximately 19 miles up Logan Canyon to the Tony Grove turnoff. The lake (and trailhead) are 7 miles from US 89.
More adventurous and in-shape hikers can access Naomi peak from Cherry Creek near Richmond, UT. From Logan drive 13 miles north on US 91 to the town of Richmond. Turn right on Main Street, and go straight until reaching 300 East. Turn left on 300 E and go straight until the road sort of splits, taking a right onto 500 North. The road turns gravel, keep following the gravel road to a parking area, and continue. The road after the parking area is dirt and rocky, but accessible by most vehicles in the summer until a river crossing. High clearance vehicles should have no problem crossing the river, while hikers in cars can start their hike from the river crossing. The trail begins at approx 6000' and climbs east past 9765' Cherry Peak before crossing a basin leading to Naomi Peak.
See also Cache Trails, an online copy of a local trail guide (http://www.logannature.org/cache_trails/canyontrails/), and CacheTrails.org, website for the local trail maintenance organization (http://www.cachetrails.org/)
A number of local businesses as well as some in Bear Lake offer snowmobile rentals. Logan Canyon has four main parking/trailhead areas for snowmobiles (Franklin Basin, Beaver Creek, UDOT shed, and "The Sinks") and there are a number of other areas to start from including Providence Canyon and Blacksmith Fork Canyon near Hardware Ranch. These trailheads offer access to groomed trails, primitive routes, open play areas, and hills. Peter Sinks is one of the top ranked snowmobile areas in the country - generally accessed from the Sinks parking area a few miles north. Logan Canyon trailheads also offer access to trails leading into the Idaho portion of the Bear River Range, providing an equal array of snowmobile activities.
To get out of Logan, you can simply backtrack south on US 89-91 through Sardine Canyon and Brigham city to I-15, or you can continue northward on US 91 through Preston, ID, and eventually return to I-15 about 33 miles south of Pocatello, ID.
You can also head west on 200 North/UT-30. 20 miles to I-15.
Logan has very little crime and has been repeatedly named as one of the safest cities in the country. It is still wise, however, to not forget about the basic tips.
Winters can get very cold in Logan and proper precautions must be taken against the weather. Major snowstorms should also be prepared for, and the winter inversions may aggravate people with respiratory problems such as asthma.