October, 2015 Edition

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Chasing Waterfalls

Kanarra Canyon Famous for Two Waterfalls

It’s a beautiful, sunny September day. Even at 11 a.m., when we start out, the temperature is a near-perfect 75 degrees. I am joined by my friends Dustin Williams and Maggie Banfill. This is my second time doing this hike, and knowing what a joyous, pleasant experience awaits me I am in high spirits. This is the first time Dustin and Maggie will be hiking this trail, but they’re excited too, filled with the happy anticipation of spending a day engrossed in a new adventure.
Having said all of that, the first mile of the trail is not aesthetically impressive. It’s just a dusty, dirt road. But after hiking a half hour up the road it abruptly ends and there the trail becomes a true single-track trail that winds through sagebrush, scrub oak and pinyon pines, and continuously crosses Kanarra Creek. We hike through the open scrub land for about half a mile and there the trail enters a dark, cool slot canyon. The part of the canyon that make this hike magical. Inside the slot canyon’s shadowy depths the temperature becomes even more comfortable.
Kanarra Canyon is famous for its two picturesque waterfalls. Because of the two waterfalls, Kanarra Canyon is more commonly called Kanarraville Falls. Just a short distance into the slot canyon we reach Kanarra Canyon’s first namesake landmark: lower Kanarraville Falls. The lower falls is a 15-foot high waterfall formed from an ancient boulder jam. Because this hike has become so popular during the last decade BLM agents have secured a simple ladder alongside the falls to help hikers climb the waterfall. Hikers will also find a rope rock-bolted into the cliff wall they can hold onto for extra support and security as they ascend and descend the ladder.
The falls is a particularly scenic spot. The foreground is shadowy, and the cliff walls beyond the upper part of the falls is backlit with soft, orange-yellow, deep-canyon light. Because of its singular beauty, crowds tend to bottle-neck here taking photographs. We did the same.
After spending 10 minutes taking photos at the lower falls we climb the ladder and continue our journey deeper into the canyon. Above the lower falls the canyon widens again, and after traveling another 10 minutes, now through pines trees and river birch, we come to a natural waterslide formed where the creek has eroded a chute in the canyon’s sandstone floor. Here we encounter a large youth group and their leaders. Some of them are resting, but some of the braver ones are sliding down the slippery rock into a plunge pool below. Looked like fun.
Just a short distance beyond the slickrock plunge pool we enter Kanarra Canyon’s second set of narrows and wade through a short stretch of thigh-deep pools. A short distance into the second set of narrows we come to the canyon’s upper falls. The upper falls is very similar to the lower falls. It’s formed

This hike gets more and more popular every year. On a hot summer day splashing through the cool creek is an ideal way to spend a day. Be prepared to share the canyon with numerous other hikers.

from a boulder jam, with a ladder leaning against the wall to assist hikers. And like the lower falls it’s a very scenic spot, with great canyon light, and like the lower falls hikers have gathered there taking photos of it.
We take our photos, climb the ladder up the falls and continue a little farther up the canyon. The canyon remains slotted and tight for another 300 feet and again opens up. It was there that Dustin, Maggie and I turned around.
The distance to the Upper Narrows and back is about four miles round trip and will take you four to six hours to complete depending on how fast you walk and how many stops you make. The majority of the trail is in the creek bed so wear durable shoes that you can get wet.
The hike is moderately strenuous for a few reasons. One, you will gain a few hundred feet in elevation between the trailhead and the Upper Narrows. Second, you’ll be continuously walking in and out of Kanarra Creek and the river rocks you’ll be walking on can be slippery and wobbly and can cause you to lose your balance or slip. Some people find climbing up and down the two waterfalls can be challenging. Even though each waterfall is made accessible with a ladder, and ropes to hang onto, the ladders are constantly being splashed with water and they can be slippery. Some people on your group may not be comfortable climbing them.
The area past the second slot canyon gets less interesting. Though it’s possible to continue hiking farther up the canyon if you desire, and there are several more sublime little spots to be found if you do, but most people turn around after passing through the second slot canyon.
This hike gets more and more popular every year. On a hot summer day splashing through the cool creek is an ideal way to spend a day. Be prepared to share the canyon with numerous other hikers.
Keep in mind that Kanarra Creek is Kanarraville’s water source so please respect all posted signs. Don’t urinate or litter in the canyon.
Getting there:
The trailhead to Kanarraville Falls is located on the east side of the town of Kanarraville, Utah. The town of Kanarraville is located 13 miles south of Cedar City along I-15. There is a small parking lot at the trailhead with a row of 10 portable toilets. There is a $10 entrance fee.
It’s a three hour drive to Kanarraville Falls from Page, Ariz. From Page travel west to Kanab, Utah. In Kanab go south until you reach Fredonia, Ariz. From Fredonia travel west to Hurricane, Utah and there follow signs to I-15 north. On I-15 north travel about 40 minutes until you reach the Kanarraville/New Harmony exit (exit 40). In Kanarraville you’ll finds signs directing you to the Kanarraville Falls trailhead.