The Upper Emerald Pool Trail in Zion National Park has a lot to offer for being one of the shorter hikes in the park! This trail starts at the Virgin River bottom with views up and down Zion Main Canyon, then turns and continues up Heaps Canyon and affords views of hidden water falls and sheer Navajo Sandstone Cliffs. These water falls are all runoff fed, so depending on the amount of rain/snow fall, the waterfalls can be a gushing flow, slow and steady, or nothing but a drip. That said, there is typically enough flow during the year that each of the three pools along this trail has some water in it. In just a few hundred feet of elevation gain, the vegetation changes from cottonwoods to pines, and spotting local wildlife is common along this trail. Many travelers take a picnic with them to eat at the top of the trail as they enjoy the view of the Upper Pool and waterfall. This trail is a must on your next trip to Zion!
Hellhole Canyon Trail, sometimes known as Kayenta Canyon or Kayenta Wash North, is a hike that takes you into a spectacular canyon that you can’t see from the road, and at the right time of the year, will reward you with an amazing waterfall! The trail follows Kayenta Wash up into the canyon. You can walk up the wash, but it will add a significant amount of time and effort to your trip. The hike does have a few steep climbs and takes you along some drop offs. Give yourself a couple of hours to enjoy this hike thoroughly. Make sure you take plenty of water!
Snow Canyon Overlook Trail is part of the Red Mountain Trail system and is accessed from the same trail head in Dammeron Valley. Although only 15 miles from downtown St George, Dammeron Valley is just shy of a 2,000 ft elevation gain, so it is cooler and provides different flora and fauna from the typical St George hike. This provides a unique experience for your next adventure! This trail is easy to moderate, with some sandy patches. The overlook is worth every step! You can see all the way through Snow Canyon, past St George, out to the Arizona Strip. Put Snow Canyon Overlook on your list for your next trip to St George!
Yant Flat is one of Southern Utah’s little gems that it seems you have to be from out of town to know anything about! This hiking trail takes you across a quick mile of lower forest at the base of Pine Valley Mountain, and then spits you out onto some of the most incredibly colored sandstone formations that exist on this earth! There are two main areas of exploration and you can easily spend a couple of days hiking across the candy like swirls.
The Elephant Arch trail is a stone’s throw from Washington city, but you wouldn’t ever know it was there. Access to the trail is a little tricky, and I definitely recommend doing this in a truck or SUV, but once you get there it is an easy trail. The first half of the trail is easy walking along a dirt road, and the you meet a wash that is pretty sandy. The rest of the hike is fairly sandy. Because of the sand, this trail is not super family friendly, but if you can pack the kids, or if they can walk the distance it’s not too bad. Typical low land desert landscape, lots of red rocks, and a cool arch at the end that does strangely look like an elephant’s trunk! Worth every sandy step!
Map to Trailhead. From St George, head north on I-15 for about 9 miles and take exit 10 to Washington. Turn left onto Green Springs Drive and take an immediate right onto Buena Vista Blvd. Follow Buena Vista for about 1 mile and turn left onto the dirt road immediately after the fire station. Follow this dirt road for about 1.2 miles and it will meet up with another dirt road that is heading north-south. Turn left onto this dirt road and follow it for about 0.6 miles and your will come to the gate and trailhead.
Like I said above, the access is kind of tricky. As Washington builds more neighborhoods this description may change, but until then you should be able to get there via these instructions.
I love the red desert or Southern Utah. I have recently been learning about the early pioneers that settled the area, and for them I don’t think the area was as much beautiful as it was harsh and barren. There was nothing easy about the lives they led. It was said among them that eventually this desert would blossom like a rose, and I believe it has. Now, ease and comfort are the main part of our lives, and the desert has become a beautiful thing to us, or at least it has to me! If only those early pioneers could see us now… If I could take them for a hike, this is one I would take them on, and let them just take in the beauty of this harsh area.
We left before sun up in order to keep from hiking in the heat of the desert sun. I could not find a map to the trailhead so I improvised, having learned beforehand the place where I would park. I tried several routes, and was thwarted as new developments have caused dirt road closures. I was finally able to access the correct road and when we parked at the trailhead the sun was making its way up. The first part of the trail passes over a closed off dirt road. We plodded along, enjoying the views of the wild Navajo sandstone hills ahead of us at the base of the towering Pine Valley Mountain. After a quarter mile we branched off to the right and followed an adjoining road that was marked ‘Bone Wash’. This road takes you past a small power substation and into Bone Wash.
Rains from a couple days previous had brought some water down the wash and we could see remnants of a small water flow that was quickly drying up. This part of the trail was very sandy, but despite our filling shoes, we carried on in anticipation of the arch. As we plodded along we passed through corridors of sandstone that were weathered and worn. I could tell that they had seen years of rain, wind, and likely flash floods that come barreling through once every few years. There were little sandstone pockets containing what was left of the last late summer shower.
We left the wash as it met with a small tributary on the right. The trail marker for ‘Elephant Arch’ spurred us on, although my explorative mind wanted to continue the journey up the wash when I looked and saw a small slot up a hundred yards. I told myself I’ll have to explore the rest of Bone Wash another day – today I’m going to the arch! As we climbed up the hill out of the wash the trail beneath our feet solidified a little, which was a nice change from the sandy wash bottoms. We could feel that we were getting close as we continued our quick pace along the trail. We wound along and followed the trail up as it curved up toward some rock outcroppings. Up ahead in the distance we strained to see what looked like it might be our destination. As we scrambled closer we could see the shape more clearly. Having only seen a few pictures I had an idea of what I was looking for, and was not disappointed at all to see that the arch before me truly resembled an elephant’s head and trunk! It was big enough walk under the trunk, and I could see its eyes where chunks of rock have fallen out from years of erosion! What a spectacle! We climbed around and took a few pictures of each of us sitting on our desert elephant, riding it along. We had a little snack, and then we were headed back to civilization.
We pushed even harder on the way back as the sun began to crest the hills that had hidden it so nicely. The heat was on and we needed to hustle back! As the sun lit the hills surrounding us we enjoyed another view at the landscape that we had passed in the early morning light. The sage and creosote around us contrasted the red sand and the big blue mountain to the north of us. As we completed our journey I was grateful once again to live in such a beautiful place! This is a quick, easy, and little known about landmark that you should definitely check out!
Until next time…your next adventure is right out your door!
The Spring Creek hike in Kanarraville, UT, was one that far exceeded expectations and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a great day hike. This hike, like Kanarra Falls, features many of the rock and plant characteristics and profiles that are so prevalent in Kolob Canyons with a nice slot canyon thrown into the mix, and because of the elevation increase, it was about 15 degrees cooler there than in St George!
The Middle Fork of Taylor Creek Trail is a scenic easy trail that is great for Spring, Summer, and Fall, but may closed during the snow season. The trail is a single track through the woods that features a couple of old ranchers’ cabins and a cool, shady alcove at the end of the hike. This hike is family friendly but could get a little long for kids that are not used to walking longer distances. Overall a great hike, and perfect for beating the summer heat!
Kanarra Creek Trail – commonly referred to as Kanarraville Falls – is a very rewarding hike that takes you up a canyon just east of the town of Kanarraville, UT. This is a water hike and cannot be completed without getting wet. The trail crosses Kanarra Creek many times and eventually enters a slot canyon where you have no choice to to enter the 3-8 inches of water so you can see the falls. The trail is lush with trees, plants, reeds – lots of green. Not really suitable for small children unless you plan to carry them alot of the way. Beautiful hike – definitely a great place to get out of the St George heat in the summer time!
The Scout Cave trail just south of Snow Canyon State Park is a great mix of easy and moderate. It passes over lava flow fields, stream beds, and Navajo Sandstone rocks. Trail is open all year, but watch for flooding in rainy seasons. This trail is not stroller friendly, but is passable by young children (5 and up). Great morning or evening hike!
This is a family friendly, easy hike that all can enjoy. There is a great flavor of Anasazi culture as you wind up the path that leads to some old Anasazi Farmstead foundation remains, and some incredibly well preserved petroglyphs. You can take the stroller, or pack the kids on your back. However you prefer to do it, this is a great hike with some great history!
The Bowl near Lower Sand Cove is a moderate hike that features some beautiful views, a lot of plant life, unique Navajo Sandstone features, and bits of running water if you do it at the right time of year. This hike is not suitable for a stroller and is not young family friendly. For hikers that are looking for a moderate challenge with a rewarding journey it is definitely worth the trek. The trail crosses lava flows, sandy walkways, and red and white sandstone rocks. This is a well traveled trail. If you get off track, watch for the cairns and foot paths in the sand.
Owen’s Loop is a fantastic little single track hike that provides incredible views of St. George, Santa Clara, and Ivins. It is a well maintained single track trail that meanders along the cliff side of the Red Hill and loops around to give you a nice view of Red Hills Golf Course. Most people don’t even know this trail exists so you can enjoy it pretty much by yourself!