Keep Your Boots Dusty This Summer: 6 Tips for Hiking in the Southern Utah Heat – St George News | Gmx Pharm


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FUNCTION – For most places in Utah, summer is the best time for hiking and backpacking. Clear, sunny skies and longer daylight hours make it possible to spend a full day on the trail, and with its proximity to the “Mighty Five” national parks – Bryce, Zion, Canyonlands, Arches and Capitol Reef – Utah is well known for outdoor Described by enthusiasts as one of the most beautiful places in the world for hiking, biking and camping.

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In southern Utah, however, summer can seem like the worst time to be outdoors, let alone hiking. Here, the long, sunny days enjoyed by hikers in other regions of the state can heat the ground, creating temperatures soaring into the triple digits, and the impressive rock formations you hike through reflect the sun’s rays and provide very little shade.

Despite the harsh summer temperatures, you can still enjoy the breathtaking views found throughout southern Utah. Just adjust your hiking habits and take extra precautions so the summer heat doesn’t keep you off the trails.

Tips for hiking in the southern Utah heat


It cannot be overstated how important it is to stay hydrated, especially when it comes to summer hikes. While it is advisable to drink plenty of water each day, when taking H2O the day before your hike. When you start your body in a state of hydration, you have a distinct advantage.

Take more water with you on your hike than you think you’ll need and drink it often. When hiking in moderate heat, your body loses about a liter of water every hour, so strenuous hiking in hot weather can more than double that amount. Remember to check the trail information before starting your trek. Is there water to drink along the way? Are there sources to refill your water bottles and hydration bladders? If not, plan accordingly.

Hiking in the morning

The obvious reason for hiking in the morning is to brave the heat. This is critical in southern Utah when the temperature is often in the 90s by 10 a.m. If you hit the trail while it’s still dark or twilight, you can gain most of your altitude before the sun comes up.

There are a number of other reasons you may find morning hikes more comfortable. You can maximize your alone time avoiding the crowds and watching the sunrise. Nothing beats sitting on top of Angel’s Landing in the stillness of the morning as the sun rises.

Everyone loves a few extra hours of sleep in the morning, but unless you want to be out and about for months without dusting your trail runners or hiking boots, you need to get an early start.

Choose a “Daylight Saving Time” trail

If you hike a long trail in the middle of the day where there is little or no shade, you will not be happy no matter how much water you drink. When choosing your hike, keep the following in mind:

  • The shade. Is there vegetation and/or rock formations that provide adequate shade along the trail?
  • Water. Are there water taps on the route? Can you purify water from a stream or river or is there a natural source? Is there running water to cool off in?
  • Length. Can most of the hike be completed in the cooler morning hours?
  • Elevation. Does the trail quickly gain altitude, making it difficult to hike in the heat? Or is the trail at a higher elevation where temperatures are cooler?

There are a few spectacular hikes near St. George that meet the requirements of a good summer hike: the Riverside Walk in Zion National Park, the Santa Clara River Walkway in Pine Valley Recreation Area, the Kanarraville Falls hike in the BLM Spring Creek Wilderness Study Area and the hike to Cascade Falls near Navajo Lake.

For early morning hikes in and around St. George, check out these five hikes:

  • Taylor Creek Middle Fork Trail, Kolob Gorge.
  • Aspiration Trail, Bloomington.
  • Yant Flats, southern slopes of Pine Valley Mountain.
  • Owen’s Loop, north side of St. George in Red Cliffs Desert Reserve.
  • Lower Sand Cove Trail/The Vortex, north of Dammeron Valley.

Each of these hikes will keep you within cell phone range in an emergency, offer spectacular views, and can be completed in a relatively short amount of time. For details on the hikes listed above (and many others), see,,, and

Wear the right clothes

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Covering up might seem counterintuitive: the idea is always to wear less when the heat rises, right? But long sleeves and trousers are your friends when hiking in summer. The more you protect your skin from the sun’s rays, the more comfortable you will feel. Make sure your clothing is light-colored, breathable, moisture-wicking, and lightweight. A hat is a must, and wide-brimmed is best. Wear sunscreen and don’t forget UV-blocking sunglasses to protect your eyes.

One thing you might want to throw in your day pack is an extra pair of socks. Sweaty feet can cause blisters, so changing socks halfway through the hike is just the thing to keep you running comfortably.

Replenish your electrolytes

When you sweat, you lose more than water; Your body loses important minerals, especially sodium and potassium. Bring some salty snacks and complex carbs to keep your electrolytes balanced (student mixes are great). Or pack some powdered electrolyte drink mixes to go with your regular drinking water.

Know the signs of heat stroke

Heat stroke — when your core body temperature gets too high — is a potentially fatal condition. Signs of heat stroke should be taken very seriously. The most common early signs are:

  • Throbbing headache.
  • Dizziness.
  • muscle cramps.
  • nausea.
  • disorientation or confusion.
  • Lack of sweating despite hot temperatures.

If you or your hiking companion suspect heat stroke, seek shade and cool off as soon as possible. Immediately decide to get off the trail and see a doctor. If symptoms persist—even for a short time—don’t hesitate to call 911.

Written by DIANE DEL TORO.

This article was originally published in the May/June 2022 issue of St. George Health and Wellness Magazine.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2022, All Rights Reserved.

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