The Enepitsi Trail in the Santa Clara River Reserve is a nice, family friendly stroll that takes you right down into the Santa Clara River bottoms. You will start at the Tukupetsi trail head, which is a dirt single track, and then you will fork to the left and follow an old dirt road down into the river bottoms. Because of the proximity to water, the plants are all big and lush, and is a beautiful walk! As you walk along and admire the foliage, don’t forget to keep your eyes open for the petroglyphs that spot the sides of the cliff face. They are everywhere along the trail, but are easy to miss if you don’t climb up next to the rocks. You will also see some up high along the top of the cliff if you keep your eyes peeled. Go enjoy some of Southern Utah’s natural history, and always remember to treat them with respect so future visitors will have the same opportunity to enjoy them! Review this before you go!
The Angels Landing Trail is part of the West Rim Trail system in Zion National Park that leads out to a point that looks down on the Main Canyon and allows you to see up toward Kolob and down into Springdale. This trail begins at The Grotto and crosses over the Virgin River on one of the many walking bridges that Zion is known for. The trail follows the river and then turns to the west and then switchbacks up toward Refrigerator Canyon. This trail climbs quickly on the paved trail and you will see the vegetation change quickly. When you enter Refrigerator Canyon you will feel the cool breeze rushing through that gives the canyon its name. Next you will meet Walter’s Wiggles – a set of switchbacks that bring you up to Scout Lookout. From the lookout you will head up the chains that take you out to the point of Angels Landing. This part of the trail is exhilarating, but is not recommended for small children or people who have problems with heights.
The Children’s Forest at the Kiln trail is a well groomed single track trail that is wide enough for a single stroller. It is a great trail to take kids on. This trail is in Dixie National Forest, and the Forest Service has placed plaques along the way, next to the native plants, to describe what each one is. The drawings and descriptions are all done by children and it is actually very cool, and very educational! This forest is described as a “pigmy forest” because the trees and shrubs found there are short, rather than tall and reaching. If you’re looking for a great walk with the kids, this is it! Unless you have a pretty good jogging stroller, I would recommend carrying kids or letting them walk. The trail ends at a very large kiln that was used in the 1800’s to produce charcoal used in the separation process for the Silver Reef mines. This is a great one! Check it out!
The Lower Emerald Pool Trail is part of a trail system in Zion National Park that leads to three beautiful pools and, at the right times of the year, two magnificent water falls. This trail begins by the Zion Lodge and crosses over the Virgin River on one of the many walking bridges that Zion is known for. The trail meanders along the river and then turns to the west and heads up Heaps Canyon. This hike features many clear views up the main canyon toward Angels Landing, and sheer Navajo Sandstone cliffs that reach toward the sky. The Lower Emerald Pool trail is wheelchair and stroller accessible, and is a great trip for adventurers of all ages. The trail leads to a waterfall that falls over an alcove into a couple of clear pools. The pools are not open to bathing, but are fun to look at, and hikers can get a refreshing little shower from the mist of the waterfalls before heading back!
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!