Tuesday Trails: Willow Lake Review

When we reached the top, we found a pink sky reflected in a calm pond along with sweaty foreheads, big smiles, and a feeling of accomplishment.

A woman hikes in a marsh field along Willow Lake Trail. Photo by Kayla Sullivan

As a student, it can be difficult to escape the chaos that is our lives. However, if we do not take time to care for ourselves, it will come at a cost. In the words of the American Hiking Society, “The more and more pressure we put on ourselves, the more our health degrades. Our minds and bodies need silence in order to regenerate.” 

Fortunately, “hiking can offer mental and emotional relief from our daily duties,” states the National Parks Service (NPS). 

“Hiking is proven to have many health benefits, ranging from physical exercise you get when out on the trail, to emotional or mental relief that comes from being in nature,” explained the NPS. “[Since] hiking ranges in difficulty from an extremely challenging climb to a casual way of spending time outside, it’s a great way to strengthen the friendships or bonds you have with your companions.” 

Similarly, the results of a study conducted by Stanford University suggest that nature, “may be vital for mental health in our rapidly urbanizing world,” stated Gretchen Daily, Professor of Environmental Science at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment

For different people, hiking can bring different, personal benefits. To me, hiking is a great way to think about the things that are most important. However, my close friend and hiking buddy Kayla Bradley, a former UVU Entrepreneurship student, stated, “I love hiking because it helps me see [that] I can do hard things.” 

Recently, my friends and I were able to hike Willow Lake Trail located in Big Cottonwood Canyon. This trail was a 2.4 mile loop with an elevation gain of 633 feet. When we reached the top, we found a pink sky reflected in a calm pond along with sweaty foreheads, big smiles, and a feeling of accomplishment.

The hike took us just over an hour and a half to accomplish (including picture and snack-eating time at the top). The trail was well-paved and vacant, except for the ducks that were enjoying the still water.

In the short period of 90 minutes, we were able to catch up as friends, embrace nature, and acknowledge the beauty around us. According to Bradely, hiking the Willow Lake Trail left her feeling “serene and mentally rejuvenated.” I couldn’t agree more.

Time spent hiking is time well-spent. If you have not given yourself time to get outside and experience the “mental and emotional relief” that hiking offers, get out and do it!

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