In our 6 years of hiking together, I do not believe we have ever hiked the same trail two consecutive weekends. That we returned to the Five Hills Hike says something about the quality of the hike… and our stubbornness to get it right! The other contributing factors included a guest for the weekend (Sprout’s Aunt Kristen) and not much improvement regarding the snow levels. It also provided us an opportunity to test out our new hike tracking app. The bottom line is that Five Hills is a great spring hike, and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves for the second go-round.
We parked in the same place as last weekend, intending to climb the “first hill” from the gravel road near the parking area; however, we immediately got off-course once again. The key to getting on the correct trail (since there are quite a few “distractors” that run along the canyon walls) is to keep following the car-width gravel road up the north side of the hill. It will take you under some power lines to an opening in a barbed-wire fence, after which it will become the width of a standard hiking trail. Other hiking trails that branch off the main road before the fence will not take you up high enough.
Once we were on the correct trail, the scenery of the canyon in mid-morning was breathtaking. The trail never climbs steeply, even through the hills loom above menacingly on the first part of the hike. The trail winds around to avoid sharp climbs quite surprisingly. Sprout was even able to walk a few sections of trail here, on her own pint-sized feet. It was truly an enjoyable jaunt, gaining significant altitude without a lot of effort.
Once we were on the ridge, we ogled the same great view as last weekend of both Smithfield and Birch canyons, plus the entirety of Cache valley into Idaho. The path was easy to follow and we could see many sprouts where wildflowers would soon appear. Our own Sprout continued to do some of the walking, as long as she was holding our hands. The ridge is mostly wide enough not to worry — only higher up on the trail does it narrow. Our snail’s pace even allowed us to discover several snail shells under shrubby plants as we walked. We stopped for lunch on hill number 3, not far from where we stopped last week.
The 4th and 5th hills were a bit strenuous, but the most rewarding. The views are spectacular. The trail appears to descend along a barbed wire fence designating the boundary of the national forest. However, the terrain on the south side of the ridge is very clear, so we decided to go around the fence to avoid remaining on private property and extend our hike a little. The path we took down was not as far along the ridge as last weekend, but was equally or possibly more awesome. Again, we encountered a seasonal creek as we traversed a gully toward the canyon floor. The pristine water fed beds of thick moss and even a small waterfall. We caught a trail through the small trees near the bottom that fed us onto Birch Canyon Road. We ended our hike on the road feeling refreshed and inspired. We will be back again!