The Canaan Mountain Wilderness Area contains a host of beautiful hiking destinations. Stunning birds-eye views of the surrounding landscape, remnants of Native American and Pioneer culture, geological features, and spectacular wildlife viewing opportunities abound. However, the thing that makes it so magical is that it takes some investment in the form of physical exertion and a degree of preparation. The two main access points on the Hildale side are through Water Canyon and Squirrel Canyon. There is another lesser known trail that offers spectacular views and access to other features, including the top of the Amphitheater which is at the end of Short Creek Canyon.
The northern end of Short Creek gradually narrows into a stunning canyon with sheer walls and seasonal cascading waterfalls. This hike begins at the Squirrel Canyon trailhead. There is a sign that shows the way to get to squirrel canyon. About three miles from the trailhead, past Squirrel Canyon, is a trail that heads up to the rim of the canyon on the west side. There are two small springs and a sandy hill covered in trees and shrubs. Two fire rings can be found here, just cross the stream, and you should see them. There is a trail that heads up the hill, which may be hard to see if there are leaves on the trees. As you head up the path, there are two green fence posts on either side of the trail. It is well worn and shouldn’t be too hard to follow.
The trail will head into the creek bed for this portion, but you will see it reappear on the right side. From there it will begin to head up onto the rim of the canyon. There are a couple of cairns to mark areas where it switchbacks upward. Once on top, the trail is worn and gradually gains elevation as it heads north. Off to the left, you will see a couple cove features in the canyon below. The view of a feature known as The Beehive will come into view as you head up. It is massive petrified sand dune with a giant cove in the middle of it.
Keep a close eye out for wildlife. Mountain lions have been reported in the area, but it is unlikely you will see one. This trail is seldom traveled due to it being largely unknown except to some locals. Both times I have been on this trail I have seen signs of Desert Bighorn Sheep. The first time, my hiking partners saw a small herd of them and found a skull of one. The last time I went, I came within twenty feet of one, and he paused for about 30 seconds before deciding that he had better put some distance between us.
I could not find a name for this trail, but it looks like an old cattle trail. This hike takes about four hours. It leads to what appears to be an old jeep trail. If you are doing a day hike, or are unfamiliar with the rest of the area, I would recommend turning around there. There is no cell phone service, and it is fully exposed to the sun. It makes a perfect spring, fall, or winter hike. Summertime adventures in this area would be more fun inside the canyon which leads to the Amphitheater. Simply continue up the canyon until it terminates with a sheer cliff drop and a large pool of water.