Taylor Creek: Always a Treat. Kolob Canyon, Zion Wilderness

Difficulty: Easy, mostly flat, soft surface and obvious trail

Length: 5.8 Miles RT

Elevation gain: ~700ft

This lovely, woodsy hike in Kolob Canyon features a creek, 2 historical cabins, and a double, closed “arch” payoff at the end. (For an open arch hike head up the road to the Kolob Arch Trail.)

The first cabin you’ll encounter on this hike is the Larson Cabin, the second is the Fife Cabin—both were built by homesteaders around 1930.

Especially enchanting in the Fall, this hike is a treat any time of year.

Notes: This is mountain lion territory. You may see tracks. Hike aware and keep small children near you. Since this is an easy, beautiful hike, it’s quite popular. Go early to enjoy more solitude.

Getting there:  Exit 40 on I-15. This is the Kolob side of Zion National Park so bring your National Park Pass or pay the entrance fee. Follow the scenic drive to the Taylor Creek parking area on the left.

Happy Trails!

Kolorful Kolob Arch Trail, Zion Wilderness

Distance: 15 miles RT

Elevation gain: ~2K

Difficulty: Moderate to strenuous depending on your fitness level, definitely a little longer than your standard day hike, mostly smooth, sandy terrain, great for trail running

The trail begins at the Lee Pass Trailhead off of Kolob Canyon Road / Scenic Drive. You’ll drop quickly into the canyon (770 ft in .75 mile) and traverse through the forest on a gentle, sandy path for the first 4 miles or so.

And then it gets even better. Zion vibes without the Zion crowds. After descending another 1k ft, you find yourself surrounded by dancing aspens and majestic red cliffs. This is where you’ll get your first glimpse of lovely La Verkin Creek. Oh, my—a perfect spot to pause and take in all the beauty. I’ll be back just for it. Fall is a splendid time for this hike, but I’m sure spring and early summer are delightful as well.

Continue following the trail along the creek another mile or so until you reach the junction for Kolob Arch. This trail is less distinct and a little more rugged. The distant view of the arch (possibly the largest free-standing arch in North America) is ok, but wow factor is a bit muted without a blue sky backdrop.)

You can continue up the canyon to Beartrap Canyon and Willis Canyon or head out to Holob Canyon and Kolob Terrace Road.

There are 13 camping sights along the trail. Reservations are required and can be made online, but 2 backpackers said they got their pass the same day.

Notes: Sadly, the toxic cyanobacteria have been detected in La Verkin Creek. No dogs are allowed in Zion Wilderness. Bring plenty of water as you can not filter water with cyanobacteria. Ps. Watch where you step!

Happy Trails!

Capitol Reef Sampler: Cassidy Arch & Grand Wash

When you have limited time, it’s always difficult to decide which hike to do. This was my dilemma on a recent trip to Capitol Reef National Park. Bottom line, you can’t really go wrong—any choice is a good choice when your surrounded the striking red, white and golden sandstone landscape, canyons and rock formations of Southern Utah. My 10 mile sampler included Cassidy Arch, a taste of Frying Pan, and Grand Wash.

Cassidy Arch

Length: ~3 mi RT (out & back)

Elevation gain: 666 ft

Difficulty: Moderate depending on your level of fitness, and comfort with hiking rocky terrain

From Cassidy Arch, you can extend your hike by following the signs for Frying Pan Trail, and trek over the Fold—turning back and retracing your steps, or continuing down into Cohab Canyon.

Grand Wash

Length: ~6 mi RT

Difficulty: Easy, flat

The Grand Wash trail follows the gorge as it carves its way through the upper portion of the Waterpocket Fold and connects through to Highway 24 just east of Spring Canyon. At the narrow, the rock walls close in, a half mile of slot canyon vibes – a thrill for those who’ve never experienced a slot canyon.  

Post to come on where to feast and luxuriate after your day of hiking.

Happy Trails!

Zebra Canyon Hike & Mini Slot Adventure, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Escalante, UT

Distance: 5.3 miles 

Difficulty: Easy, with some deep sand walking in a wash, minimal elevation gain (~390ft). Trail is unmarked, but obvious. Great for trail running.

Colorful pink and white striations on the rock walls give this canyon its name, but you’ll earn your stripes for immersing yourself in the watery slot canyon at the end. The hike is quite pleasant, but 100% exposed so it’s a “no go” on hot days. It’s also a no-go in monsoon season.

The murky water in the slot can be knee to neck high depending on how much rain there’s been lately. While the slot is only about 200 yards long, memories of your mini slot adventure will be enduring.

Getting there:  From Escalante, take Utah 12 E for 4.9 miles and turn right on Hole in the Rock Road, 8 miles on dirt road to the first parking area on the right. Cross to the east side of the road and follow the path.

Note: if you’re claustrophobic, or have fuller body dimensions, you may want to opt out of the slot canyon immersion as it quickly narrows to about a foot of body wiggle room.

Happy Trails!

Wildcat Trail Walkabout, Monument Valley, Navajo Tribal Park, AZ/UT

Distance: ~3.5 Loop

Elevation change: ~380 ft first section down /last section up

Difficulty: Easy for fit folks, others may struggle with the sandy terrain and the short climb at the end. Also, it’s 100% exposed so avoid when hot, and bring your hats, sunscreen & H20.

The sandy, mostly flat, Wildcat trail loops around West Mitten Butte and provides views of East Mitten Butte, Merrick Butte, and the wider cliffs of Sentinel Mesa along the way. As you enjoy the iconic Southwestern walkabout, you may get lucky as I did with an appearance of local equines. Film buffs will recognize this scenery as the backdrop for many Westerns.

I was super lucky to see a storm here. The golden light was ethereal–it appeared that the magnificent landscape was floating!

Entry Fee: $20/car for up to 4 people, and $6/additional person. No dogs allowed.

Getting there: From Mexican Hat, UT, drive south on HWY 163. You may notice the famous “Forest Gump Hill” where Forest Gump stopped running and decided to return home to Alabama and his love, Jenny. At mile 20, make a left onto Monument Valley Rd and follow it for another 3.3 miles to the Park Entry. The trailhead and sign in are at the far end of the Visitor Center parking lot towards the camping area.

If you’d prefer a car photo safari, there’s a 17-mile, scenic, dirt-road drive through the valley that you can take.  Speed limit is 15 MPH.

Happy Trails!