Kanarra Falls, A Slippery Adventure in Kanarraville, UT

Distance:~4 Miles Roundtrip

Elevation gain: 587

Difficulty: Easy +, the first 0.8 miles is the only uphill portion. After that you’ll need to be mindful about your footing in the stream and on /off ladders and boulders if you attempt them. Know your limitations. It can take 7 hours for a rescue team to get here.

The first section of the trail follows an old access road (approximately 0.8 miles) up into Hurricane Cliffs before wandering into the lower open sections of the canyon. This wonderful water hike takes you through and next to the stream bed all the way up the canyon. At the first falls you’ll encounter a 15-foot leaning ladder with metal rungs and no handrails. Proceed with caution. A little farther up the trail you will need to scramble over a large boulder (no ladder or hand holds there). Next you have the opportunity to submerge yourself in a natural pool. Finally, you will reach a narrowing slot canyon that will take you to the 2nd and final falls.  

WARNING: Flash floods can occur at any time of year but are most common from July through September in the late afternoons.

Notes: Requires a nonrefundable permit or $12 per person. (WORTH IT.) Happy they permit this hike to limit the number of people per day and keep it clean. Previously, I heard it was overrun and there was littering everywhere. (Red Reef should follow this example.)

Open from dawn to dusk.

Water shoes and hiking poles recommended.

No dogs. Please use bathrooms at the trailhead. This is a watershed for the town of Kanarraville—human and pet waste contaminate.

Getting there: From Cedar City, take 1-15 South and then exit at 51, Kanarraville (if you’re coming from the south, on I-15, take exit 42). Either way, go east on 100 North, drive to the end of the road and the trailhead parking lot.

Happy trails!

LEAVE NO TRACE.

Ice House Trail, Washington, UT

Distance: You decide, trail goes for 6+ miles out. (According to Alltrails, you can make it a 17.1mile loop, but that entails at least 5 miles of bland fire road, whereas an out and back avoids the fire road portion.)

Difficulty: Easy-+, depending on fitness level and length of your hike

Elevation gain:1,434

Highlights: Wildflowers, panoramic views, and some incline

The Ice House trail runs up the side of a mesa (Broken Mesa) with an initial elevation gain of about 600ft. The terrain for the first incline section is a bit technical with chunky and loose rock. Hats off to the mountain bikers who can make that section without walking, I’m sure that I couldn’t. (And not sure I’d want to hike-a-bike that first half mile or so – perhaps nontechies like me can do it in reverse and turn around here.) After that it’s a gradual incline up the mesa on a single-track trail that is ridable, runnable, or strollable. Enjoy panoramic views (Pine Mountain, Zion, etc.) and wildflowers if you hit it at the right time.

Great hike for spring flowers, sunset, and some solitude.

Pleasant, but not a “must do” in my book. Good trail for endurance runners and backpack training.)

The trail is so named because it was route pioneers use to take to bring ice down for food storage from a storage pit located at higher elevation in the Pine Valley Mountains.

Notes:100% exposed trail so recommend avoiding it in the summer and suggest you bring plenty of water, a hat, and sunscreen.Leashed dogs allowed.

Getting there: The trailhead is at the back edge of the Green Springs Terraces development in Washington between house 2255 and 886. You can also access the Mustang Pass trail (looks like it could be interesting) and the Middleton Powerlines trail (looks like you can get some mileage on a mountain bike, but not very interesting for bike or hike).

Zion’s Subway: Bottom Up—Is Tops!

Distance: ~9 mile round-trip (out and back)

Elevation: ~1900ft

Difficulty: Moderate, depending upon your fitness level. (Zion National Park rating is strenuous.) Steep and exposed initial descent and return ascent, otherwise fairly mellow trail with lots of stream crossings / stream walking, some rock-hopping, and minor scrambles over boulders. (Good idea to have some longer hikes with some elevation challenge under your belt before attempting.) Since footing can be precarious at times, especially at the Subway itself, but also along the way, expect the hike to take longer than mileage would indicate. Also, you’ll want to take the time to savor the beauty that surrounds you.  Average hike times range from 5 to 9 hours.

Definitely one of my favorite Utah hikes so far—epic scenery, waterfalls, the magnificent, iconic beauty of the Subway, and a solid workout.

More than 1 of us accidently took the wrong “trail” down.  Not sure how that happened – maybe it too early in the morning, too much excitment. If it looks and feels like you’re navigating down a precipitous, vertical avalanche area —retrace your steps back to the trail and continue on. While the descent and ascent are steep, they are on a definite trail.

The hike description noted a strenuous and steep descent / ascent so we didn’t think we’d gone astray until we found the real trail (pic on right) on the way back.

Apparently, there are some dinosaur tracks just off the “trail” somewhere – their whereabouts remain a mystery to me. I’ll let you know if I find them on my next trip.

Keep your eyes out for snakes, toads, and trout.

And yes, there’s also a top-down route to the Subway that requires canyoneering, rappelling, and swimming. It may be in my future—will report back if and when.

Heads-up:

  • Walking stick with a solid rubber end and grippy shoes highly recommended. (You’ll be traversing many slippery rock sections through the stream and at the subway itself. Be cautious – safe is better than sorry. Many helicopter rescues occur here. Don’t be one of them.)
  • Be aware of flash flood danger and heat exhaustion exposure. Get the weather report and double-check with rangers. I went in April and it was 90 degrees by midday—some fellow had heat stroke on the trail. (Bring plenty of water, a hat, and sunscreen.)
  • This is a day use only area and permits are required. An advance lottery system applies from April to October and calendar reservation applies from November through March. There is also a last-minute drawing and you can always check for cancelations day of—unlikely, but we met a couple who nailed both a same day cancellation opening for the hike and a campsite so you never know. (Permits are $15 for 2, $20 for up to 7, and $25 for up to 12 people.) Lottery, reservation, and permit details here.

Good luck – it’s worth it!

Getting there: Left Fork Trailhead on Kolob Terrace Road

Happy Trails!

Cable Mountain, East Zion NP— Easy Hike With A Big View Reward

Difficulty: Easy—“walk in the park”, perfect trail running terrain, very gradual incline

Length: ~8 roundtrip

Elevation: 1,155 ft

Take a walk on the East side of Zion for fewer humans and similar vistas. There are a couple of different trails to Cable Mountain. I opted for the Stave Spring Trailhead route this time. It’s a pleasant hike on smooth, foot friendly terrain through a recently burned ponderosa forest that yields big views and historic remnant rewards at the turnaround point. (Not much to see along the way.)

Highlights: Vertigo inducing views of Angel’s Landing, Observation Point, and of the water below winding its way to the North fork of the Virgin river. You’ll also find remnants of the Cable Mountain Draw Works. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the structure was an aerial tramway used to move lumber and timber off Cable Mountain and down to Zion Canyon from 1901 to 1927.

The view through what’s left of the aerial tramway
Tramway remnants

Takeaway: You get a similar view payoff as Angel’s Landing (and a view of Angel’s Landing) without the big incline, crowds, and the life-risking part…

Getting there: East Zion, go through the park tunnel and follow the signs for Zion Ponderosa Resort. Make a the left onto the dirt road that goes by the Resort and follow the signs for Cable Mountain.

Note: Dirt road and trail conditions will vary with rain or snow. It is doable by car, but beware there’s a huge dip right before the trailhead parking so proceed with caution (if your vehicle has the mojo) and /or park just prior.

Hiker tip: (Hardcore hikers might find this hike a bit too easy and a bit too bland, except for views at the turnaround point. Great for casual / beginner hikers who want to challenge their distance.) Y There are options to add mileage and elevation gain for those who are looking for more than a “walk in park, including other connector hikes from this trailhead. More on these later…

Yowza! Yant Flat! Leeds, UT

Also known as Candy Cliffs, this rocky wonderland is more than sweet- it requires a default to the overused superlative “EPIC” with an added “for sure”!

Only the first mile is a sandy trail, the rest is create your own adventure (at your own risk) across all types of fascinating colored and textured rock topography. Some steep, slippery sections… If you’re lucky, you might find the one crevasse that will take you down to the wash that you barely see in the distance way down below. Or like me, you may choose the wrong route and end up at a dead end, which could turn into a dead end in more ways than 1.

Length: 2-infinity miles

Getting there (4-wheel drive with clearance recommended): Cottonwood Springs Road in St. George to FR903

Notes: Would not attempt the drive or hike in the rain

For similar views at a slightly smaller scale and without the need for a 4-wheel drive, check out the Snow Canyon Overlook Trail