Located several miles south of Zion National Park, accessible from the town of Hildale, Water Canyon is a stunning oasis in the middle of the desert. Water Canyon is a narrow canyon with an enjoyable trail that follows the walls of the canyon to make its way to the waterfall destination.
Once above Water Canyon, you will enter upon the Canaan Mountain hike. The goal is to make your way into Water Canyon, then cross over it to make your way to the top of Canaan Mountain.
Distance: 1.5 Miles
Estimated Time: 2 ½ Hours
Hiking Difficulty: Moderate
- (3) Quarts of Water
- Change of Socks
- Bug Repellent
- Map http://www.citrusmilo.com/zionguide/watercanyonmap2.cfm
The Trailhead of Water Canyon: From Highway 59
If driving from Hurricane, Utah, take Route 59 southeast for 23 miles until you reach the Utah/ Arizona border town of Hildale. Turn left on Utah Ave (just before the Subway), which takes you east for two miles, then turns north. In less than a mile, turn right at the connection of Maxwell Canyon Rd and Water Canyon Road. There is a blue arrow sign signaling the turn to the trailhead. Follow the dirt road for two miles until you come to the designated parking area at the end of the road. Note: The dirt road is typically accessible, but this road could be rough terrain in wet conditions.
I have been all over the Canaan Mountain’s since I was a young child. The main thing that I can’t stress enough is that it’s easy to become lost. Canaan Mountain has few ways to get back down. The landscape has many curves and many of the trails are faded and have numerous branch roads that could take you off path. Bring navigation helpers to keep yourself from getting misled, like a GPS, map, and compass.
Always pack plenty of water and a source of protein (granola bars, peanuts/almonds).
Starting from the parking area, hike up the obvious trail to begin. For the first mile, you will be hiking in the sand and rocky hills above the small river, passing through sections of vegetation. Soon, the trail slopes down, into the waterway at a stunning sector of canyon where the canyon walls come inward. There are beautiful, small cascades that you will work your way up. Take caution: this part of the hike can be quite slippery, so take it slow. Take your time here and enjoy the area. It’s refreshing, photogenic, and a good resting area.
Past the waterfalls, you will follow the trail for 1 ½ hours as it makes its way up the canyon and climbs the west walls of the canyon. Half a mile from the first slot, the trail makes a right turn and leaves the sight of the waterway and goes south up the hill to make its final ascent. The terrain smooths out, the official trail starts to fade. This is where your map comes into play, there are multiple trails of use from here and can be misleading. If are on the right track you will come to Top Rock, a unique rock formation that signals the end of the trail. Take a mental note of this spot as it will be helpful in finding the way back down the mountain.
From there, hike north, northwest through the hills. You will find yourself on a trail. Follow it down until you reach the view above Water Canyon. Once the stream through Water Canyon is in sight, walk the edge until you find a way down into the wash. There is no clear trail into the wash, so you will have to improvise here. Once there, hike up the wash to the left. After a bit of hiking the wash, look for a side way that heads to the northwest and follows it. Near the top of this side wash, you will reach White Domes, one of the most incredible landmarks of the Canaan Mountain’s.
Congratulations! You are now at the top of the Canaan Mountains!
For casual hikers, a hike up Water Canyon is simple and fun. For backpackers looking for a full day hike, you can get to the top of the Canaan Mountains if you plan your day strategically. For both casual hikers and experienced backpackers, pack plenty of water. Remember, you are in the desert, and it is easy to get dehydrated. Above all, take your time enjoying the awesome view that is Water Canyon and the Canaan Mountains!