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!

2 Splendid, Scenic Road Bike Routes: N. Rim Grand Canyon, Az

Route: Grand Canyon Lodge to Cape Royal and Imperial Point

Mileage:~52

Elevation gain: ~3,950ft of climbing at an elevation around ~8000ft

The road sign for Cape Royal says narrow and windy, not recommended for campers so there are no campers on it and very few cars, especially if you get an early start. I defaulted to my gravel bike as I feel a little more secure on it, should I need to suddenly swerve off road. While there isn’t much, if any, of a shoulder most of the time, I felt safe. A road bike would be perfectly fine and a bit faster. Inn my opinon, Cape Royal offers the most dramatic views even though Imperial Point is the highest lookout at 8,800ft. Also, for some reason, the sky was much clearer at Cape Royal. Consider packing some goodies and having your snack at Cape Royal. I was lucky enough to hit it in full wildflower bloom. (My pictures just hint at the incredible views!)

Happy Cycling!

Route: Grand Canyon Lodge to Jacob’s Lake

Mileage: ~41 (1 way)

Elevation gain: ~1,700

A great second day ride in the North Rim, heading back out the park to Jacob’s Lake. Perhaps you have some noncyclist friends who would opt for picking you up in Jacob’s Lake on the way home, or perhaps you’d like to double your mileage for an out and back? Have lunch in Jacob’s Lake and climb back to the rim? Whatever your pleasure, it will be a pleasure. The scenery is lovely to enjoy from a secure shoulder. Some, but not much car traffic, makes for a serene ride. Bison traffic may be a factor if you’re lucky. Keep a safe distance – they can charge 35 mph, (jump 6ft high), and I’ve heard they have a “thing” for bikers. (Recalling my cross-Catalina ride bison encounter.)

Since the North Rim of the Grand Canyon only receives 10% the visitation of the South Rim, it’s quite peaceful with minimal car traffic. Got to love it!

Zion Narrows, Widely Populated, and Dare I Say, Overhyped

Distance: ~10 miles RT

Difficulty: First and last 1.7 miles is on flat pavement–easy. After that–hard, due to icy water immersion (from ankle deep to hip deep) and treacherous footing over slippery rocks. Water is so murky that you must use your hiking stick / poles every step of the way.

Fortunately, my friend and I were of the first few to step our feet into the icy waters of the Narrows that morning so we were able to soak in its beauty in solitude. Unfortunately, on the way back, the multitudes had arrived—unruly mobs descending on a magnificent citadel destroying all vestiges of a nature’s magnificence.

The waterfall in the feature picture above is the official turning around point for the Narrows. If you wish to add on a nice side trip on the way there, on the way back, or as an alternative, check out Orderville Canyon. It’s the right fork at about the 2.5 mile mark. It’s much greener, and in my opinion, prettier than the Narrows itself. Unfortunately, my bettery dies so I wasn’t able to take any pictures there. Guess, I’ll have to return. Orderville Canyon is also a bit less traveled, which in my book, is always a win

Yes, the Narrows is cool, but in my opinion, over-hyped. I’m so fortunate to be discovering so many equally or more beautiful, less-populated spots all over Utah. Zion National Park’s inability and/ or unwillingness to minimize crowds is discouraging and certainly offputting.

There is a 17-mile top-down challenging route that requires canyoneering and some swimming, likely it rules out the masses, but there’s no avoiding them for your final 5 miles when you’re most likely to be a bit hangry anyway… I’ll let you know if and when

Soapbox: In my opinion, ZNP needs to permit this hike ASAP to preserve the area from the irreversible impact of the HORDS of HUMANS and enhance visitor experience. They do it for the Subway and it works well. Never felt overwhelmed there, but the Narrows felt like being in a city subway. Perhaps they should flip the names.

Notes: Water temperature ranges from 40 to 60 degrees. In the fall, winter and spring, dry gear is recommended. (My first time was inMarch and I froze. Came back in July and was fine in shorts.) Rent info: https://www.zionguru.com/narrows-rental-equipment  Hiking sticks/poles are a necessity. Go early to avoid the crowds as much as possible.