Kanarraville Falls, also called Kanarraville Slot Canyon, is a hike you need to do if you live in Southern Utah. It’s easy, fun, and everyone else has already done it.
My dad missed it to. He heard about it from a friend and neither of us had much information about the hike beforehand, other than a somewhat cryptic “you’ll have to walk in some water” warning. So with hope in our hearts and shorts on our legs we ventured to Kanarraville early in the morning.
To get to Kanarraville from Cedar or any point north, take I-15 to exit 51. Turn left to the old Highway 91 and straight into town. To get to the trailhead turn east on 100 North for four blocks. The road will be blocked and a parking area will be on your left.
There are no dogs allowed on the trail, a fact we didn’t know about. With tears in our eyes we had to bid farewell to our faithful four-legged companion Harley before we set off. While I see the reason for the ban on dogs – Kanarraville’s water is supplied though the canyon and some areas would be impassable for dogs – it was a sad moment.
Apparently at one time you could drive all the way to the entrance to the canyon. Not anymore. The start of the trial is on a road that leads up past the water tanks and down to the mouth. It’s an easy walk of about 1.5 miles and probably the hardest bit of the hike. We did spot a pretty big rattlesnake during this part of the hike. He buzzed at us and slinked off under a bush.
The trail proper runs alongside a creek weaving from one side to the other. The actual trail is somewhat misleading as both sides of the creek offer walking paths that seem just as authentic as the other. I don’t know if there is an official side and a forbidden side, but we walked both sides (one up and one back) and both provided pretty much the same experience.
Don’t try to avoid getting your feet wet early on. Before you know it you’ll be knee deep in water anyway. My dad tried valiantly to hop across the creek on moss-covered rocks. He ended up on his back several feet down river. Good thing we wore shorts.
After hiking upstream a bit you come to some amazing slot canyon features. My dad couldn’t help a bit of youthful exuberance as he shouted and whistled in the slot canyon to hear his own echo. I couldn’t blame him. Every once in a while I’m reminded that I do, in fact, live in one of the most beautiful areas on the globe. The Kanarraville falls hike holds sights and experiences you just can’t find anywhere else.
And everyone knows it. Another odd feature of this hike, for my dad and I at least, were the crowds. Our previous hikes up Indian Peak and Duncan Canyon were isolated adventures where our only company was each other and whatever fauna we came across. On this hike there were people everywhere.
My dad grumbled a bit, saying that, though the landscape was as pretty as anything he’d seen, he’d prefer an isolated experience. Maybe, but that didn’t stop him from trying to start up conversations with nearly everyone we came across. One such group was the Merrell family from St. George. They had the whole clan there including Mallory the baby.
“It’s not bad, but we forgot the backpack for the baby,” said John, the father of the group. In the end Mallory was left at the entrance to the slot canyon with her mom Chelsea and her sister Madison, who was getting cold feet from wading in the water.
“It’s a great hike,” said Chelsea. “We brought all of our kids and everyone was able to do it.”
Inside the slot canyon are a couple areas that require climbing over wooden ladders or up waterfalls. It looks way more difficult and serious than it actually is, but a bit of caution should be exercised.
If you keep going you’ll come across a natural waterslide area where we found the varsity team and venturing crew for Boy Scout troop 1873 from Cedar City. They demonstrated what you could do if you had a swimsuit on and didn’t mind total immersion in the chilly waters. We ended up talking to them for quite a while.
Yes, it is crowded, but that’s part of the charm of this hike. Isolationists like my dad may have second thoughts, but when you’re on the trail with strangers, they are no longer strangers.
After the waterslide area we turned around and went back, though people said there is another waterfall further up. I know I’ll be back with my wife and friends.
My dad? He said that once was enough, but we’ll see what happens when his grandkids want to go.