Moqui Cavern, Kanab, UT: A Quick, Roadside Stop

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.

Happy Trails!

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!

Summiting Magnificent Mount Timpanogos: Waterfalls, Wildflowers, Wildlife, & Wild Views—Oh my!

Elevation gain:5,384ft

Mileage: ~15 Miles RT

Summit: 11,752ft, the 2nd highest mountain in Utah

Difficulty: Hard, strenuous – due to altitude, elevation gain, and ~1.5 miles ea way of an unstable, tortuous, talus field

Happened to be in the area and made the spontaneous decision to hike Mount Timpanogos. So glad I did. By far, Mount Timp (as the locals call it) is my new, all-time favorite hike / peak. And I’ve done a ton of hiking across the country and around the world. I couldn’t stop smiling all the way to the 11,752-foot summit and back. Ok, maybe my smile was a bit of a grimace through the 1.5 miles back and forth across the treacherous talus strewn avalanche field.  Rest assured, the grimace quickly reverted to ear to ear, exuberant glee once I reached the summit and then again as I descended back down to the lake.

What’s make Mount Timpanogos so wonderful, you ask? Well, the title gave it way, but in case you missed it:

  • Abundant colorful, wildflowers of more varieties than I’ve ever seen
  • Dazzling waterfalls around nearly very switchback
  • Pristine alpine lake and snow field a couple miles from the summit
  • Muscular mountain goats guarding the upper slopes and frolicking by the lake
  • 5,384 ft elevation gain in altitude delivers a fitness challenge and solid workout
  • Sweeping views of Utah Valley from the saddle and spectacular panoramic views from the summit

This hike had it all—absolutely enchanting.

Started the trail in a steady rain, and walked up a verdant paved path for about a mile and a half or so before the pavement gave way to the elements.  Plentiful wildflowers and sparkling waterfalls distracted from the effort of the climb and the sun’s radiance soon highlighted all of the beauty, mist rising. The trail is easy to follow with plenty of switchbacks to help mitigate the elevation gain. It felt almost tropical at times.

The lovely Hidden Lake Basin and Emerald Lake are destinations for many, including the mountain goats.

Those who push on beyond the mile and ½ talus torture field and onward and upward still, are well rewarded at the summit.

Pay your respects to the kings of the mountain along the way. If you have good eyesight, you might spy the summit hut from thousands of feet below. It’s a bit daunting and exciting because it seems so far away, almost out of reach.

From the summit, you’ll take in dizzying 360 degree views of Utah Valley and Utah Lake to the west, Lone Peak and American Fork Twin Peaks to the north and expansive views everywhere in between.

Disclaimer: I experienced Mt. Timp in her July glory. I was told by locals that I wouldn’t recognize her in the Fall when the waterfalls are dry, the wildflowers have disappeared, and the green meadows have turned to yellow hay. Others report that Fall colors are nice here. Someday, perhaps I’ll be back to see for myself. In the meantime, if you’ve been in another season, let me know what it was like.

Notes: I’d say hiking shoes are a must to navigate the talus field. There were some hard core, ultra runners in trail runners. (I know – WOW!) Hiking poles are also a nice to have, given the elevation gain and loss. Layers are always smart at altitude. Be aware of weather changes and avalanche danger.

Getting there: I-15N to Pleasant Grove, exit 275. Follow N County Blvd and UT-92 E to the Aspen Grove trailhead.

Stay tuned: I’ll be posting the videos soon!

Happy trails!