Now that it’s fall, what better time to take a hike! Whether you’re an avid hiker or simply looking to enjoy the fresh air, Southern Utah is sure to impress.
Check out eight of the best hiking trails local to Southern Utah:
Wire Pass Trail is located in the Paria Canyon-Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness Area, just a quick drive from Kanab, Utah. Much of the 3.7-mile hike is an exposed wash and requires you to drive down a dirt road to reach the trailhead. After hiking over a mile, the wash starts to narrow and forms stunning slot canyons. Partway through, you’ll reach the famous wooden ladder you climb down before continuing the hike, leading you through the slot canyons to nearby petroglyphs.
Observation Point, in Zion National Park, leads to one of the most spectacular overlooks of the Zion Canyon. To access the 7-mile trail, you need to drive to the East Mesa trailhead outside the park’s eastern border. This moderate trail wanders along a flat pathway through the pine forest. Along the last mile, you’ll start to see glimpses of the canyon below before an opening to the panoramic views of the canyon. You’ll even get a bird’s eye view of the famed Angel’s landing over 600 feet below! Be sure to save some energy for the 702-foot climb back to the trailhead.
This easy hike through the Rim Trail offers amazing photo opportunities of Bryce Canyon National Park. This mostly paved and graveled path is flat and perfect for all age groups to enjoy. The entire trail is approximately 5-miles in each direction with several elevation changes. The trail takes you through spectacular scenery with over 1754 feet in elevation change.
The Hickman Bridge hiking trail in Capitol Reef National Park is a popular 1.7-mile out-and-back trail. This trail weaves along a series of switchbacks that level off and take you to a fork in the trail. Along the hike, you get to see local spots like Cohab Canyon, Nels Johnson Bridge, and the panoramic views of Capitol Dome on the horizon. Once you reach the fork, go right under the bridge and take in the impressive desert views. Be sure to stay on the designated trail and avoid narrow cliff edges.
With over 2,000 documented stone arches, Arches National Park is one of the most well-known of the Mighty Five in Utah for natural beauty. Among the most unique is the Delicate Arch, the 52-foot free-standing arch that has become a popular symbol. As a moderate 3.2-mile roundtrip hike, the trail is surrounded by the park’s beauty from arches to red rocks and mountains in the distance. Be warned, with its popularity comes the likelihood of numerous visitors stopping for photos!
Angel’s landing is considered one of the most dangerous hikes with the most rewarding views. Located in Zion National Park, the hike starts with a walk through the shady Refrigerator Canyon on the West Rim trail. Then comes Walter’s Wiggles, a series of switchbacks ascending 250 feet up the canyon. Scouts Landing is an excellent place to stop for views of the valley before the most challenging section. Part of the hike navigates a narrow sandstone ridge with 500-foot drop-offs on either side. The panoramic views of Zion Canyon are worth it once you reach the summit.
Who knew you could hike to the top of a volcano in Southern Utah? Snow Canyon State Park lies just north of St. George, Utah. Outside the north entrance sits Santa Clara Volcano, which last erupted 27,000 years ago and formed two cinder cones. You can hike the south cone 1.7-miles roundtrip. Once you reach the top you can circle the rim of the volcano, scope out the views of red and white sandstone cliffs of Snow Canyon, and descend into the cinder cone if you dare!
One of the most unique experiences is hiking the narrows in Zion National Park. You can hike from the bottom entrance up and back, 10 miles roundtrip with a turn-around point at Big Springs. Or go from the top of the canyon down, 16 miles total with a permit and pre-planning for campsites and obstacles. Either way, you get to hike for miles in a river at the bottom of a deep slot canyon surrounded by waterfalls, trees, wildlife, and the incredible colors of sandstone walls. Come prepared with your best water shoes for the chilly waters of the Virgin River!
Some of these trails are inside nation and state parks and do require an entrance fee. If you already own an America the Beautiful Park Pass, you can get into the national parks without paying any additional fees!
By Celia Reid, TDS Communications Intern