When you arrive at Goblin Valley State Park, you know you’re in Utah, but you may think you’re on another planet. Goblin Valley’s otherworldly scenery attracts visitors and filmmakers alike. The movie Galaxy Quest was filmed here.
While the small park offers a mere total of 6 miles of hiking, you may find yourself wandering for hours through the dramatic, twisted hoodoos, goblins, and rock mushrooms. The majority of the hoodoos can be encountered in the Valley of Goblins, an open free—range hiking area of 3 sq miles.
Be sure to check out the Goblin’s Lair (a massive cavern/ slot canyon), the Goblette’s Lair, 3 Sisters, and Molly’s Castle.
If you prefer to take in the unusual views by 2 wheels, you can enjoy the 7 miles of Wild Horse Mountain Biking Trail System.
Anything but the pits, this delightful little hike in Zion Wilderness delivers nature’s solace from the crowds and the concrete. The pinyon pine and juniper tree-lined trail meanders through the open low desert drawing you in along the babbling creek and slowly revealing dazzling views of West Temple and Mt. Kinesava. The trail was named Coalpits because of the dark volcanic boulders that cover the hills to the west. The Wash is the primary drainage for the southern desert section of Zion National Park.
Notes: No dogs. Muddy area after rain or snow. There’s are options to connect to other trails (Chenile Trail, Scoggins). More on this later when I make those connections.
Getting there: UT-9 E/W 500 N – Keep your eyes open for the roadside sign and pullout. No overnight parking.
Elevation gain: ~1,437 (There’s a gradual ascent in the first 2 miles or so and rollers beyond. If you go down to the Canal, you’ll have the return climb.)
Terrain: Single track (A few areas of “exposure” –other than those, generally great for trail running and mountain biking, except as noted on the trail – beware “The Drop”.)
The views are spectacular on this trail—stretching out to ZION and dropping down to the Canal below. Just over a mile into the Rim Trail, you’ll come to aptly named Panorama Point. Here, you’re standing on the Hurricane Fault, one of the longest earthquake faults in the world. Before you, the expansive western edge of the Colorado Plateau and the convergence of the Basin, Range, and the Mojave Desert. The Kaibab limestone cliffs date back to the Paleozoic era when the ocean submerged the area.
At about mile 2.4, you’ll reach a junction to go down the Canal Trail or continue on the rim. I took the Canal Trail about 3.25 miles down and explored around there. There are many discoveries to be made along the way, including tunnels, historical remnants, and hot springs. (Unfortunately, the latter are now behind posted No Trespassing signs.)
There are a couple of options to explore here by foot or by mountain bike. There’s a sign at the trailhead with the details that I’ve summarized below. Hikers and bikers may find it somewhat disconcerting/comforting that the hospital emergency phone number is listed at the top of the sign.
HURRICANE CLIFFS TRAIL SYSTEM
Bowery Trail One-mile round trip hike that follows the Canal, going over a flume and through a tunnel. (Not exactly sure where this one starts.)
Historic Hurricane CANAL TRAIL Traverse from the Hurricane Hill Trailhead to Virgin Dam Trailhead – 5.2 miles one way. The first 2 miles are rated moderate. The last 3.2 miles are rated strenuous.
Mountain Biking the 21-mile “LOOP”
Canal/Rim Trail (first 1.8 miles), Rim Trail, Jem Trail, Goulds Trail, and Goulds Rim Trail. The “LOOP” route is typically ridden counter-clockwise. For a shorter ride of your choosing, you can opt to do an out and back or arrange a car shuttle.
Notes: Horseback riding is permitted from Virgin Dam Rim Trail to Chinatown Wash and on the Gould’s Rim Trail. This hike is exposed –spring, fall, & winter are probably preferable to hiking here in the summer heat.
Getting there: Go south about a mile on US-59 up the hill above Hurricane City. The Hurricane Rim trailhead parking area is on your left and marked by several cell phone towers.
Ps. I know some time has passed since my last post. I’ve been caught up in my adventures and have some serious catching up to do on my posts. Stay tuned and thanks for visiting.
A short stroll from the parking area across Highway 89, the manmade Moki Cavern can be seen from the road. While I’m not usually one for manmade attractions, the Moqui Cavern has a certain appeal (cool views inside and out) with great photo-ops. Definitely worth a quick stop if you’re driving by. These sandstone caves date back to the ’70’s and are the result of sand mining for glass production. If you can look beyond the eyesore of all the recent graffiti, you may find yourself fascinated by the subtle colors and patterns in the sandstone and rewarded by the cave-framed vistas. Go early or late for a chance to have the experience to yourself.
Distance: .A Half Mile RT
Difficulty: Easy, but highly advisable to wear shoes with good traction for the short slip rock traverse where there’s some exposure.
Getting there: From Kanab, the caverns are located 5.7 miles north on Highway 89.
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.