Utah’s Grotto Trail Hike and Monkey Mat Review

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This post is part of a series of weekly gear reviews. Check back most Wednesdays* for reviews of cool gear for outdoor families.

In honor of National Public Lands Day, Mountain Dad and I went with some friends to Grotto Trail. Not only is this a great hike for kids, it was beautiful with fall colors in full effect.

While Big E and little g slid down the dirt slides, explored the stream and ran around with their friends the adults enjoyed the leaves. Occasionally we called the kids back to the trail in an attempt to finish the hike in less than three hours, but they were having so much fun playing we didn’t try too hard.

The colors were beautiful, the weather was perfect and the hike ideal. The trail is only 0.3 miles long, and ends in a twenty foot tall waterfall cave. And although the trail was fairly busy, it still had a feel of seclusion in the grotto.

We all enjoyed the hike so much we stopped for a picnic on the way out. Luckily I had my Monkey Mat to make things easier.

The Monkey Mat is a portable floor that folds into a convenient pouch making it an easy carry along for outdoor adventures. It was given to me for review at Outdoor Retailer and I’ve used it more than I expected in the last two months.

Now you may be thinking, isn’t that the same as a blanket? Although a blanket can serve the same purpose, the Monkey Mat stands out as being conveniently portable, as in it can fit in a large pocket or purse or clip onto a belt loop, backpack or stroller. The 5 by 5 foot square of water resistant material has weighted corners and toy and stake loops but folds up into the attached 6 by 6 inch zippered pouch.

There are times with a baby that I just need a clean place to put her down – going to the bathroom, helping another child, carrying something. The Monkey Mat makes that aspect of outdoor adventures much easier. At 6 months and not crawling yet, Baby L is the perfect age for the Monkey Mat. We’ve taken it on picnics, to the water park, as a stroller cover, even to put her down on my dirty floor at home. Within an hour of getting it I used it as a place to change a diaper on the side of a parking lot.

I have found that lugging three kids’ worth of stuff around makes me want to declutter everything, including what I take on outdoor adventures. The Monkey Mat gives me a space saving option that has made outdoor time more comfortable when sitting on the bare ground won’t work.

But even with the convenience of it, I don’t know that I would buy it myself. I’m frugal by nature and spending money for a portable floor when I already have a blanket or baby wrap seems redundant. With that said, had I received it as a baby shower gift I would use it all the time. It is a great gift for an outdoors loving parent.

Bottom line, when I have the Monkey Mat with me it can be a life saver, but sometimes it’s redundant. It’s list price is $19.99.


  • Lightweight, portable, and packable 
  • Fits into attached pouch and clips onto bags, belts, or strollers.
  • Water Resistant
  • Machine Washable (don’t dry it in the dryer to keep the water resistance)
  • Redundant if you already have a blanket or towel

*I know this is a Thursday, but I ran out of time to finish yesterday.

Directions to Grotto Trail in Utah:
Take I-15 to Payson Exit 254. Head South on Main Street until 100 North, Turn Left. Go East until 600 East and Turn Right. This road takes up up Payson Canyon. Follow for approx 7 miles to the trail head of Grotto Falls.

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Author: Mountain Mom

Hi! I'm Mountain Mom. I live with my husband and three young kids in the mountains near Sundance, Utah. When we're not hiking, biking, skiing and camping, I spend my time doing Mom stuff and reading. Summer of 2016 we traveled over 7,000 miles along the US National Park to Park Highway.

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