Top 5 Places to Hike in Southern Utah
Andrew Johnson 03.05.12
Now that we’re approaching the end of winter, hiking season will soon start up again. With that in mind, spring is one of the best times to hike through southern Utah’s majestic backcountry. Trails from easy to difficult are well marked and call for hikers of any skill level, while the famous and captivating red rocks dominate the many spectacular facets of the terrain.
Depending on the weather, some roads are closed for weeks at a time because of early and late winter storms. Those planning to drive to one of these five top hikes can check the latest Utah weather forecasts to make sure the potential for flash floods is at a minimum. The road conditions in Utah vary this time of year, so bring plenty of water, blankets and check your spare time before hitting the road.
In no particular order, here are my five favorite trails for hiking in Southern Utah.
Horseshoe Canyon Trail
The 6.5 mile trail follows through the canyon and a sometimes wet creek bed to the remarkable Native American rock art known as the “Great Gallery.” The most rigorous section is from the trailhead down into the canyon. In Canyonlands National Park, signs find the trail 30 miles east of Highway 24 on a well-kept dirt road.
Natural Bridges Loop
For over 8 miles, hikers venture on the loop among the world’s largest collection of amazing rock formations at Natural Bridges National Monument. The trail drops gradually to the canyon floor and then follows downstream past the majestic stone monoliths.
Navajo Loop Trail
The most used and loved trail in Bryce Canyon National Park is 1.5 miles long. The trailhead descends from Sunset Point and passes the park’s intriguing rock formations of the Silent City and Wall Street. Hikers who want a longer hike can take the Queens Garden Loop from where it crosses with the Navajo Loop Trail.
Upper Courthouse Wash
Stretching one way for 6 miles, Arches National Park’s Upper Courthouse Wash is a trail that follows through a creek bed and its sandy banks. Because there are multiple entrances, people can choose to walk all or part of the trail beginning from different points. Some of the features are Dead Horse Point, Buttes Merrimac and Monitor as well as Ring Arch.
A trail that is as short or as long as desired to a distance of 16 miles, this trail is spectacular Zion Canyon’s most well-loved and used hike. Much of the walk is through the waterway at the bottom of the canyon, a relaxing and lovely spot traveled rapidly or leisurely.
Have you hiked in southern Utah? I’d love to hear some of your favorite spots. Leave a comment below!