Exploring the Hurricane Rim and Canal Trail, Hurricane, UT

Distance: Your choice— 1 to 21 miles

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.

Happy Trails!

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.

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!

Revisited the trail recently to see La Verkin Creek show off her Spring look. She did not disappoint.

Funny wildlife encounter story. Well not funny, if you’re the frogs or me. While I was “Wim Hoffing” it in the creek, I sat on 2 frogs in the midst of a tryst. Unfortunately, it would be their final, though eternal, encounter. (Gives new meaning to “happy ending”, doesn’t t?) In the meantime, as I was exiting the delightful natural pool, I almost grabbed onto a snake. There’s bound to be one in paradise, right? Notes to self, look before sitting and before placing a handhold. The harmless snake was lying in wait for the plentiful frogs. Little did he know that I’d arranged a 2 for 1 for him. Back on shore, a frog eyed and ID’d me as the culprit.

Other than that, the play/day was uneventful and beautiful. And, yes I still feel guilty about the frogs.

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!

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!

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.