Kanarra Creek Trail is quickly becoming a nationally famous hike because of the beautiful slot canyons and iconic small waterfalls with log ladders ascending to the top. Located just off the I-15 freeway near Cedar City and St. George, the easy-to-access canyon gets families of all sizes joining in the fun. Due to its growing popularity, access to the trail is limited.
The first quarter of the trail is really nothing special, but as you approach the red rock towers and start crossing the creek, the beauty starts to close in. The canyon walls begin to pinch and the terrain goes from rolling scrub-oak hills to cottonwood-lined sandstone cliffs. As you get closer to the first waterfall, the true slot canyons start to take shape. With the water running through at about ankle level, it makes for a magical and unique trek. Slick rock, desert varnish, and soaring sheer overhead cliffs make this a true southern Utah adventure without having to dive deep into canyon country.
The most iconic part of the hike is the first waterfall with the log ladder heading up it. This spot can get pretty crowded with photographers and people going up and down the ladder. There is a rope for assistance, but the ladder is incredibly slick from being continually pelted with water. Be patient while waiting as well as while climbing up and down. After the first waterfall you will see some small pocket canyons with their own small falls. Further up is the second log ladder, which is not as high but a bit more sketchy. More and more wider canyons lie beyond that, with the terrain getting more difficult as you continue.
Autumn is a great time of year to make this trip. Vibrant yellow cottonwoods provide a dramatic contrast to the red cliffs and the blue skies. The water is colder in the fall, and this can get a bit tricky on slick-rock with half numbed feet, so water shoes or old tennis shoes with neoprene or wool socks is are recommend. Given all of the slippery surfaces, you will need to be careful not to twist an ankle on this hike. Some hiking poles would be a great addition for extra enjoyment and safety. This hike is doable for kids, but they will likely need assistance at multiple spots depending on how far up you go.
As of 2019, the Town of Kanarraville has implemented new rules for the Kanarra Creek Trail. Dogs are not allowed. A permit for the trail costs $12 and includes parking; advance registration is strongly encouraged. Permits are available at KanarraFalls.com and are limited to 150 hikers per day.