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One of our friends, introduced us to the hidden hiking gem in Hildale, a tiny town in Southern Utah with an amazing hike; Water Canyon Trail! It's not very often that I find out hikes that my husband and his family haven't hiked/heard of. (They were raised in Cedar City.) But this hike feels like Zion National Park without the crowds! We didn't make it to the actual slot canyon (which we were bummed about) but when you have 8 kids under the age of 12, we knew we wouldn't make it all the way.

Plus, we didn't really know what the length of the hike actual is. I've read that it's 1.5 miles one way. I'm not even sure how far we hiked but we liked what we saw. Somehow, we forgot to bring along our water bottles, which we conviently left in the cars. And we should have packed lunches. Next time, we'll do some more research.

We had hikers of every age on the trail, so we had lots of groups all over.

The kids did great. There were even some spots where we had to climb over some large rocks...almost boulder size, but nothing seemed to faze them.

We actually did this hike in February...maybe December, but it was just the right temperature for hiking. Although, it would have been fun to hike in the river and get wet, but next time.

Our beloved Trail Fairy made a visit to prompt the younger kids along.

Older kids are a perfect subsitute for Trail Fairy duties.

There were time that I honestly didn't see my 3 & 5 year old for quite a while. The trail was easy to follow and they did have their older cousins to help guide...kind of of.

Either way, the kids loved roaming.

We found some sand dunes, small streams with greens growing, an arch in the cliffs and amazing views!

Arch is here.

Here's an example of some of the trail spots. Grandpa is 74, but he easily hiked.

This is as far as we could make it, without tempting the fates and having melt downs on our hands. These berry bushes were HUGE! It was a whole field. I can only imagine what it looks like in the spring with blossums. I kind of think they are wild boysenberry? But watch out, the thorns are super mean.

We really wanted to head back just to reach the slot canyon, but next time. (Be sure to check out our friends photos at the end, since he made it to the slot canyon area.)

One of our toddlers, toddling down the way. Eventually, we had to just take an arm and kind of loft him down the mountain.

This is one of my favorite spots, you can't miss it as you hike up. We gathered allt he kids and hoisted them on the huge boulder for an epic photo. The tiny kids felt like a million bucks!

Before leaving we let the kids jump boulders over the river and climb around.

We found a rock wall across the way too.

Be sure to add this hike to your list. While it's a good drive from any large towns, it's totally worth it. My husband really misses Zion National Park and the way it USED to be when he was a kid. I feel like this is an awesome subsitute. We'll be back!

The photos below are by our friend Tyler, who actually told us about this hike. He went on the hike a few weeks before and was able to get to the slot canyons.

Entrance Fee(s)
Helpful Tips
  • Read that it is 1.5 miles one way, but it's unconfirmed. Not much info online.
  • Road into the trailhead can be washed out at times.
  • The bathrooms were closed due to vandalism, so don't leave any belongings in your car.
  • Bring plenty of water and food.
  • Partly shaded on trail. There are some good shady spots to stop along the way.
  • Dogs are allowed, but we saw lots of poop, be sure to clean up after your pets.
  • Look out for the arch up on the cliffs!
  • Moderate hiking. We had toddlers up to 74 years old climbing over large rocks and boulders at some parts.
  • We've wondering about hiking up the river itself, could be fun in the summer months. 
  • Watch for snakes in the warm months. 
  • We were the only ones on the trail the whole time.

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