Clipper Staff Writer
It’s probably better not to wear ankle-high, heavy-leather, thick-soled Danner boots when you’re hiking Kanarra Creek Canyon, but if that’s all you packed, don’t let it stop you.
No one laughed outright, but I got the feeling a few were chuckling under their breath at my boots.
While everyone else had sandals or water-friendly hiking shoes, or mesh-sided walking trekkers, my feet were weighed down a bit.
But once they filled with insulating water, they worked just fine, giving great traction whether we were scrambling up a sandy trail or over broad boulders, and whenever we were finding our footing in the ragged rocks of the stream bed.
It’s all there, on the trail up Kanarra Canyon, and its accessibility and variety make it well worth a detour the next time you’re between Cedar City and St. George.
Pull off at Kanarraville, about 13 miles south of Cedar City, and look for a large parking lot after you’ve followed 100 North as it curves towards the mountains.
While the parking lot accomodates most visitors, those who don’t get there until it’s full have to park a few blocks away (signs give directions).
The first stretch of the trail takes you up and down and around and into the canyon, where it takes you closer and closer to the stream bed as the walls begin to narrow.
Before you know it, you’re in a slot canyon and it didn’t require ropes or guts.
Narrow passages open to wider valleys, and pretty soon you give up the side trail to traipse entirely through the stream.
Friendly locals placed a narrow ladder near the first waterfall, enabling a farther explore to those willing to climb it.
The second waterfall has at times required ropes to pass, but in a fortunate bit of timing, a group of scouts carrying a ladder passed us on the trail.
Their carefully placed ladder made it possible to climb the second waterfall (sometimes around, sometimes through it) and explore beyond to exceptionally tall cliffs that never seemed to end.
I wouldn’t recommend the hike for young children, though we did see families taking it on. Be careful either way, and know your limits and the limits of those in your party.
Just going as far as the first waterfall will still reward the hiker with amazing cliffs and slots, beautiful trees, scampering lizards and cascading water.
As always in narrow canyons, be aware that conditions vary throughout the year. Check the weather and keep an eye on the sky, and get out if there’s rain anywhere nearby.
I’m not sure your average sandal would work in the canyon and, in fact, I saw one being repaired by another party early in the trip.
Good old-fashioned tennis shoes might work for anyone who doesn’t mind getting them wet – because sooner or later you’ll be in the water and once you’re there, it’s easiest to just stay there.
But whether you’ve got the newest version of water-hiking shoes or the oldest, heaviest trekkers, take the chance to explore Southern Utah’s Kanarra Canyon.
It’s worth it.