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!

Canal Trail & Santa Clara River Trail, Pine Valley, UT

Distance: ~6 miles- if you car shuttle, ~12 roundtrip

Elevation gain: ~700-1k

Difficulty: Easy to moderate, depending on your fitness level

Terrain: Mostly a sweet, smooth single track trail, which is why mountain bikers are taking to it too

What can I say? Pine Valley never disappoints. These two trails are a lovely way to spend a couple hours immersed in nature and the fresh, delightfully cooler air.

You can pick up the Canal Trail in 3 spots:

The Cemetery Trail on the left before town will take you up and merge you with the Canal Trail on the rim, where you make a right. (Car shuttle opportunity–1 car here, the other at Mitt Moody Campground.)

You can take the Gardner Peak Trail to where it merges with the Canal Trail and make a right or left – it’s about the midway point if you only want to do part of the trail.

You can start / finish at the Mitt Moody Campground behind site 5. (A car shuttle is handy if you don’t want to walk the same path twice.)

Any route you choose will be pleasant – the Cemetery Trail and Gardner Peak Trail pack the elevation in the first mile and it’s gravy after that. The most gentle approach is the Mitt Moody start. Under the cover of Ponderosa Pine you’ll enjoy wonderful views of Pine Valley and the surrounding mountains.

If you prefer a a short, paved trail, the Santa Clara River Trail is a wonderful alternative or add on. This family-friendly, 2.6 mile out and back trail runs through the forest along a stream and to the reservoir. It can be accessed at Mitt Moody Campground or across from the Gardner Peak parking lot.

Getting there: Take 18N to Pine Valley

Veyo Shoal Creek Road, Surely Scenic Gravel Ride Sampler

Practically in my backyard and I just discovered it today thanks to Deb of PlanetUltra. This is part of the course for the PlanetUltra Volcano Ride (120k). Panoramic views, nice road quality, and some solid climbs take you from the back of Gunlock out to the Enterprise Reservoir. I turned around ~16 miles in due to self-inflicted cleat failure and sore knees from Thursday’s Epic ride up Smith Mesa (post to come). If you go all the way to the reservoir, it’s ~20+ miles each direction and 3-5k elevation.

Mansard Trail, Kanab, UT Scenic hike with great views, rock formations, and petroglyphs!

Distance: ~5.2 miles

Elevation gain: 1,311 ft

Difficultly: Easy to moderate depending on your fitness level (1 easy scramble required midway)

I loved this little hike. A feast for the eyes and spirit–the vermillion cliffs, the white rocks, the green pines and Bristlecones, the incredible rock formations along the way, the sweeping views of Kanab and the plateaus of northern Arizona, and the big reward of the magnificent alcove with its amazing petroglyphs. The single-track, switchback trail is red dirt most of the way up and thick, fine sand for the last 1/2 mile – great trail running terrain. If you’re in the Kanab area – it’s an absolute must do! Perhaps you can see why…

Notes: No permits needed. Free parking. The petroglyphs date back to the Anasazi period 0 AD to about 1250 AD and are on the floor of the alcove. Take care not to touch or step on any of the ancient art as oil from your hands or your pets’ paws can destroy the petroglyphs.

Getting there: The trailhead us just 6 miles east of the center of Kanab at 4825-4826 Rock Edge Lane

Happy trails!

Navajo Lake Loop: MTB Nirvana, Cedar City, UT

I don’t tend to throw the word epic around much though I have been on some epic mountain bike rides – Tahoe’s Flume Trail, Lake Crescent’s Spruce Railroad Trail, and while not epic per se, that little gem, Diamond Valley Lake was quite lovely too. Fond memories of those rides were stirred up by my ride today on the Navajo Lake Trail. It was by accident that I arrived here as I had set out to do the Navajo Loop Trail in Brian Head, but never found that trail head. Instead, I thought I’d try my luck at the Navajo Lake Loop and I was not not disappointed.

It’s a sweet, highly scenic, nontechnical single track cruise by way of Navajo Lake Loop Trail and the Virgin River Rim Trail, aka the other half of the Navajo Lake Loop Trail. Apologies, I didn’t take as many pictures as I usually do – guess I was having too much fun. Guess, you’ll have to go see how beautiful it is for yourself.

Interesting fact: The lake was created when a lava flow dammed the eastern end of the valley.

Distance: 11 Miles

Staring elevation: 9,035′

Elevation gain: 827 ft

NLT vista 1

Just right for my Sunday afternoon. In case you’re wondering what this place looks like in the winter, here’s a pic from an afternoon snow shoeing in Deer Valley.

Frozen Navajo Lake

Getting there: From Cedar City  go east on Scenic Byway SR 14, 25 miles to the Navajo Lake road turnoff and keep your eyes open for the Navajo Lake Loop Trailhead parking sign on the right side of the road. It’s free to park.

 

Ps. There are campgrounds, and fishing, boating, and swimming are allowed.