Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Hike to Kanarra Creek Falls near Cedar City, Utah

Since we have to take an entire day off to go to the dentist in Cedar City, I figured we should try to do something fun so we didn't just drive all day. The aquatic center didn't open until 4 pm, the bowling alley was a little pricey, no good movies at the cheap movie theater, no plays showing at the Shakespeare Festival, so I decided we would go for a little hike. I had heard that Kanarra Creek was a wonderful place to hike and wasn't far away. So after doing some errands, we drove there (directions and maps here). We could have parked at city hall for free and walked a few blocks, but it was already getting a little late in the day, so we paid $10 to park in the private parking lot. About five cars were in the parking lot. No one in the handicapped spaces next to the stairs.

The information kiosk that begins, "This is a difficult hike." The kiosk also said "Plan on spending at least four hours up and back." I was hoping we could make it a little faster, as we still had to do grocery shopping and had a long drive when we finished.

The hike starts on a steep gravel road and passes the water tanks for the town of Kanarraville.

Then we went down hill towards the creek. It was late September, so I was a little surprised by how warm it was and how green the trees still were. I was kind of hoping for lots of fall colors, but I guess that will happen in October.

The kids were definitely a bit grumbly. However, once the trail got harder and we started walking in the water more, their attitude definitely improved.

We got more and more excited as the canyon walls got higher.

In a bit over an hour, we reached the first narrows section. I had checked the forecast and there was a 0% chance of rain. Perfect, because if you were in the narrows during a flash flood, it would be a bad situation.

When Desert Boy saw the narrows, he couldn't quite believe that was our trail. I think his exact words were, "We have to hike in that?"

"Yep," I replied.

"But there's no trail."

I smiled. "That's the point."

Although I had them hiking in swim suits and some technical clothes, their feet got cold. And there was a little more whining.

But soon we reached the first waterfall, and suddenly they forgot about their cold feet and started thinking about the challenge in front of them. Desert Girl scampered up the ladder before I even had a chance to ask her if she would be comfortable doing it.

The canyon opened up a bit and we saw some smaller waterfalls. On hot summer days, I would hang out here for awhile. But it felt cooler now, so we kept going.

As we entered a second section of narrows, the water got a little deeper.

The beta I had read about the hike said the second waterfall could be harder to climb around, but on our trip the ladder there was in good shape.

We were a team now, overcoming obstacles in the canyon.

The canyon was absolutely gorgeous.

After the second waterfall the canyon opened up again and we found a geocache, had a snack, warmed up in the sun a little, then headed back downstream.

Desert Boy was ready to tackle the ladders on his own. (By the way, some of the ropes and webbing tying the ladder in place and for handlines are really worn--inspect them before you commit all your weight to them.)

Desert Girl wanted a belay, so I tied a full-body webbing harness for her and attached some accessory cord.

The belay gave her a little more confidence, and she did great going down.

The trickiest spot turned out to be this log, where Desert Girl slipped off and landed in a puddle, getting quite wet. I had a rain jacket that I put on her and that helped warm her up.

Going down the ladder by the first waterfall was a piece of cake.

Then it was time for more hiking. I've already ordered neoprene socks for the kids so they can do this again and enjoy it a little more.

They dried out quickly once we reached the road and headed back. It took us 3.5 hours to go up above the second waterfall and back. We saw about 20 people in the canyon on a weekday afternoon. According to reports I've read and the size of the parking lot, I imagine it can get super busy on weekends, with probably ten times that amount of people. But I have to say, the canyon is worth visiting, it's a beauty.

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