Kanarraville Falls - a hidden gem in southern Utah
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A little secret
I really don’t want to tell you this.
But I know I can't keep it to myself.
I'm talking about a little gem of a hike in a teeny, tiny southern Utah town nestled in the backyard of Zion National Park.
Kanarraville, Utah is home to a few hundred people and a gorgeous waterfall hike that not many travelers know about. The locals would probably like to keep it that way.
We were driving our way to California when we dug up this little nugget of a hike.
Hitting the road west, just after noon on a Friday, we headed south through Colorado and into Utah. Having tucked 640 miles under our belt, that night we crashed at a hotel in Cedar City, Utah, planning on hitting the road again in the morning.
But we're nosy
And we suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out) when it comes to rugged little adventurous areas.
Knowing already that this part of Utah was gorgeous based on a previous road trip through Moab, Bryce, and Zion National Park, my husband was searching the web, learning about the area surrounding Cedar City.
Within minutes he spied photographs of Kanarraville Falls.
“Honey, we’ve got to go there!"
My husband exclaimed, pointing to the pictures.
So, being a spontaneous bunch, we made a 4 hour pit stop to hike the Kanarra Creek Trail to experience the beautiful Kanarraville Falls first-hand. This last-minute addition to our plan was worth every minute.
I'll let our pictures do most of the talking.
One of our all-time favorite hikes
A moderate 5 mile hike, our kids say the Kanarraville Falls hike is one of their top highlights of our California road trip. And we weren’t in California.
Gradually hiking up from the trailhead, Kanarra Creek guides you the entire way. Follow the creek and you can't lose the trail. You'll cross back and forth over the creek and hike through it several times. The creek generally stays shallow, ankle hight mostly to mid-calf at times.
Strap on your water sandals
Chacos or other water sandals are preferred to tennis shoes or hiking boots. My daughter and I are started off wearing tennis shoes, but within a few minutes we were donning our Chacos instead.
Enjoy the shade trees, foliage, and the towering mountains. Plenty of places to stop and rest, take in the beauty. Soon, you'll find yourself sliding into a slot canyon.
Ladders and waterfalls
Holding hands and mouths gaping wide, we reached the mouth of the canyon. Sunlight dances on the canyon walls. So. Many. Snapshots. We were in love.
As you hike farther up the slot canyon, you reach a crude ladder going up the falls. It's basically a large log with metal rungs and a rope railing along the canyon wall to help guide you towards the top.
Helping each other, we carefully climbed up the 12 foot ladder and farther in. Honestly, I was a tad nervous for my younger two. We were thankful for the lending hands of fellow hikers. Safety is paramount.
More waterfalls and sliding rocks
Hiking up the canyon further, you'll tediously make your way up a second set of small falls, this time without a ladder. Just tree branches and boulders helping you up.
Then, the canyon widens again. We made our way up to more falls where we sat and ate our picnic lunch. There, the creek cascaded over huge, mossy rocks into a pool of water, making it a natural playground. We took our turns sliding down the rocks.
Soaking wet, we dried quickly in the abundant sunshine.
Hiking back down the canyon was just as fun, and we were wonderfully tired and in search of ice cream.
Word to the wise
Parents, you should know this is a moderate, wet, slick hike. Personally, I wouldn't bring babies and toddlers up all of the falls. We saw mamas and dadas with little ones. Some stopped and waited as the rest of their family hiked up and further in. Others, with little ones strapped on their fronts or backs, dared the ladders and falls.
I'm a play-it-safe kind of mom. Not judging, just being real. Remember, there is a 12 foot high, crude, slick ladder. Elementary age and up seems about right. Know your kids' abilities. Know thyself.
Bring lots of water, like two water bottles each. Pack snacks and maybe a lunch. Give yourself up to 4 hours to enjoy the hike. Know when the sun sets.
Mid-day, on weekends, this hike can be crowded. Start earlier in the morning, or hike this on a week day.
How to get there
Kanarraville Falls hike is in Kanarraville, Utah (just south of Cedar City, Utah off of I-15 via Old U.S. 91, or just 40 miles north of St. George, Utah).
Bring $10 cash to park in the Kanarraville parking lot right at the trailhead. The address is 375 E. 100 North St, Kanarraville, UT 84742.
Zion is roughly 50 miles, or only about an hour away. Read about our 3 days in Zion.
Bryce National Park is about 100 miles, or 1 hour 40 minutes away. Read about our overnight in Bryce. Dying to get back there.
Cedar Breaks National Monument is 33 miles, or 47 minutes away.
Brian Head, Utah is 44 miles, or 50 minutes drive.
Check out VisitUtah.com for more ideas.
We'll be back Utah!
Honestly, we could spend a week or more just exploring this part of southern Utah. So much to see and do! We're already talking with California friends about meeting up here. What's next on your list?
Have you explored southern Utah? What are some tips or faves you'd like to share? Please comment below, we'd love to know! And feel free to pass this post on to a friend. Thanks!