The Grotto Trail is a great, easy family outing for anyone staying between Provo and Nephi in Utah. It is about 8.8 miles off the Payson exit, a short way up the Nebo Loop Scenic Byway. It is perfect for a morning outing on its own, or a very quick hike to stop and do for anyone driving the Nebo Loop. It is a super easy hike that could be done in a half hour, or an hour if you have young kids that like to stop and play.
We went there one Saturday morning when we were visiting family in Spanish Fork, Utah. It was a great morning activity, thoroughly enjoyed by all the young children we had.
Our group consisted of grandparents and two young families, with a total of five kids, ages 1 to 8 (and my pregnant wife). Not a single person had any trouble with the hike, although my three-year old did insist I carry her up some of the small inclines. This was a big improvement from her because we recently did a 3.5 mile loop trail and she made me carry her basically the whole way.
The hike starts at a big bend in the road with plenty of parking. It should be pretty easy to find-we had not problem. We went on Memorial Weekend so it was quite busy, but we still did not have any trouble parking and did not feel like the hike was crowded at all, other than waiting a minute for our turn to be alone at the waterfall.
We went in May, and my girls loved the small field of dandelions to pick at the beginning of the trail head. In fact, they enjoyed picking dandelions the whole way up and down the trail and finished the hike off with giant bouquets of flowers we finally managed to throw away the day we left to drive home for Vegas, well after they had all died.
After the very small field, the trail enters a forest and quickly aligns with a small creek that is flowing downhill as you are hiking uphill. While the hike is about .45 miles uphill, the climb is not steep at all and is very easy for young kids or elderly people. After a small way, the trail crosses over the stream with a nice wooden bridge and there is a little area where kids can enjoy playing in the water, throwing rocks, finding sticks or chasing butterflies.
The trail then continues uphill with an easy climb along the stream, offering many more small little places to access the stream and view the small cascades. Finally, near the very top of the trail, you cross over the stream twice more by walking over large logs. These logs are easy to cross and even the young kids had no trouble. It is also easy to cross the stream by walking along the rocks sticking out if you are not comfortable with the logs.
At the end, you reach the Grotto, which is a nice little waterfall that is probably fifteen feet high. In the spring, it was dropping a pretty good flow of water into a small pool that empties into the stream that meanders through bars of rocks in an area about ten feet wide and twenty feet long that is enclosed on three sides by steep rock cliffs that are about fifteen feet high. On a hot day, the cool water and shade will be a welcome relief. We enjoyed pretty much the most perfect weather on our hike though.
As did everyone else we saw hiking the trail, we enjoyed a nice family pictures in front of the waterfall. The kids then played in the water a little bit before we headed back down the trail, stopping along the way to play in the water, pick flowers and enjoy the weather. My five-year old enjoyed every opportunity to pose in the beautiful scenery for some photographs.
We left Spanish Fork about 9:30 in the morning and were back in time for an early lunch, after enjoying a pretty drive and great little hike and a small, but scenic waterfall.
If we had more time, I really would have enjoyed stopping at the old school, which is now the Peteetneet Museum. I have seen the school a few times when I have driven the Nebo Loop and always wanted to stop. It is beautiful architecture that just screams history. The museum has been described as less museum and more collection of residents’ memorabilia. But it is not the contents I am interested in seeing, it is the beautiful architecture, the maple hardwood floors, the bell tower and multi-colored bricks.
The museum is free of charge, donations accepted, with three-hour guided tours every weekday at 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.