Taylor Creek Hike

Taylor Creek is located in Zion National Park, in the Kolob Canyons section, just off I-15. It follows a clear stream, past magnificent geological, historical, and biological wonders. The hike is around five and a half miles, there and back. There is very little elevation gain, making it a good hike for the whole family. It is pretty well traveled, but be on the lookout for rattlesnakes during the warm months. There is a cougar warning at the beginning of the trailhead, but don’t let that scare you away. They are seldom seen and probably more scared of you than you are of them.

To get there, follow I-15 to the Kolob Canyon exit. You will have to pay a day use fee or present a national park pass. The trailhead is clearly marked with a large parking lot. Be sure to bring plenty of water and snacks. Depending on your speed, the hike can take 2-4 hours to complete.

You will begin by traversing a stone and log staircase down into Taylor Creek. Once into the creek bed, you will head east, along with a clearly marked trail. There are no other trails to get lost on, at least that I am aware of. As you head along the trail, there will be several places where you will need to cross the stream. It doesn’t typically run high, but be aware of weather conditions, as a heavy rain could cause flash flooding. The creek is quite wide in this portion of the hike. You will notice towering red cliffs and a diverse range of flora. Cottonwood trees, scrub oak and succulents line the stream, with pinions and juniper along the outer flanks. There are massive blankets of scrub oak leading to the cliff line, where it transitions into ponderosa pine trees in various spots and benches beneath the cliffs.

Further down the trail, you will run into the first of two old cabins that were built by ranching families in the 1920s. They are locked up, but you can peak through the windows to get a sense of what type of space they had to live in. These are historical sites so treat them with respect and don’t try to enter them.

Continuing down the trail, the canyon begins to narrow, and the foliage begins to change. The high cliffs block the sun leading to cooler temperatures that create a favorable climate for ponderosa pines, ferns, and other plants. It can look like a rain forest at times. Around this point, you will see another cabin. It is nestled off to the left in a stand of pines. The settlers that built and lived in the cabin surely must have appreciated the splendor of the place. It feels like you have stepped directly into a bygone era. The towering cliffs and trees and the silence make you wonder what it was like. It’s easy to envision yourself staying forever, although the realities of that way of life were probably much less idyllic than we would guess.

The trail continues for a way and the narrow portion of the canyon becomes more still and silent. I went during the spring the first time and this section of the canyon was covered in snow, and ice cold, while further down the canyon, it was up to 20 degrees warmer. The cliffs are so high that there is only a small window for light. During the cold months, the southern cliff wall blocks direct sunlight entirely.

The hike culminates in a massive double arch feature. Beneath the upper arch is an amphitheater-like space that features a different scene for each season. In warmer months, there was a pond and lush blankets of ferns and wildflowers. During my early spring-time visit, there was an ice pond and massive icicles (some up to five feet in length) hanging from the ledge. I witnessed one of them fall. It would have been lethal had someone been underneath, so be cautious of that.

This hike is very close and not strenuous at all. If you haven’t been, you should!

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