Greetings, Nature Lovers, and all interested in the geography, history, and beautiful regional sites of this area!
“Destinations with Dave” will mainly focus on regional sites—some well-known as well as “hidden gems.” As midwesterners, my wife and I brought our kids hiking to this area many times and vowed to move here eventually. We are proud to show the beauty of this region to visiting friends and relatives, and I’ve put together road trips for when one has only an hour to longer trips. “Destinations with Dave” will explore sites and vistas that can be enjoyed from the car, as well as longer hiking.
One of my favorite trails is the Taylor Creek Trail at Kolob Canyons, part of Zion National Park near New Harmony, Utah, just off I-15. It’s a beautiful day trip from Mesquite, with plenty more to see if you wish to stay longer. Taylor Creek Trail runs through a deep canyon formed by water through the millennia, and the bubbling sounds of Taylor Creek make this a relaxing hike, looking up at the high, steep red rock canyon walls around you. The trail follows the Middle Fork of Taylor Creek past two old homestead cabins from the 1930s, and if you choose to complete the trail to the end, to rest and reflect on the beauty of the Double Arch Alcove.
Plan for about 3 to 3.5 hours if you hike the entire 5-mile hike in and back. It is described on the Park website (linked below) as “moderate in difficulty.” The most strenuous part is actually the first few hundred yards, which go down steep steps (and which you’ll have to climb up, of course, at the end of your hike!) After that, it’s fairly moderate—but, as it follows Taylor Creek, you may get your feet wet in Spring, especially.
My wife and I hiked Taylor Creek Trail twice, in September and October, and crossed the Taylor Creek 42 times (we counted!) before reaching the end of the trail to view the Double Arch Alcove. We managed to keep our feet relatively dry, but in Spring the creek is higher but very crossable—you may want to wear your waterproof boots in Spring. We met very few other hikers until we reached the very end of the trail at the majestic double arch, where half a dozen other hikers were resting, eating their lunch, and taking pictures. We didn’t get started on the October hike until afternoon, rewarded with the Western sun on our backs and, at the very end of the trail, illuminating the Double Arch Alcove. Keep in mind, however, the sunlight disappears early in this deep canyon—we definitely rushed back to remain in daylight!
The trailhead for Taylor Creek Canyon is about two miles from the Visitors’ Center along the Kolob Canyons Road. Nearby there are tent and RV sites north of Kolob, in Knarraville and Cedar City. There are restrooms at the Trailhead and at the Ranger Station at the entrance to the Park, which you need to stop at to pay or show your park pass.
A bit of history: the first people to live in the Kolob region were the Anasazi, which means “the ancient ones.” It seems no one knows exactly why they disappeared from the Southwest region around 1200 AD. The Paiutes later settled in the area, and still, today view Kolob as a sacred spiritual place. Next, Spanish explorers tried, with little success, to establish a trail from New Mexico to California through the Canyon, and in 1852 pioneers settled, using the area for timber, livestock, and prospecting minerals. In 1956 Kolob Canyons became part of Zion National Park, but was protected in 1937 as a national monument—and we all benefit from that foresight.