Located east of the town of Kanarraville, Southern Utah, the Kanarraville Falls hike is an incredibly popular hike for both locals and visitors alike, and it’s not hard to see why, offering visitors amazing natural beauty from the second you step foot on the trail.
Tucked away and kept hidden for years, the Kanarraville Falls was one of the best secrets of the area. In recent years however more and more started to learn of the amazing natural wonders of the red slot canyons, and the falls saw something of an explosion as more and more started to come and share their experiences with the rest of the world all across social media.
Today, the majestic red rock cliffs and slot canyons of Kanarraville Falls have become an incredibly popular natural wonder, with more than 40,000 hikers visiting to take the hike in 2015 alone.
If you’ve caught wind of this amazing location and are planning a trip to take the hike some time in the near future, then the following should hopefully clue you up on everything you want to know.
Do I Need a Permit to Take the Kanarraville Falls Hike?
If you’re going to take the Kanarraville Falls hike then a permit will be required, and these are priced at $12.00 per person (although free for children under 3), with parking at the trailhead car park included. Group or non-profit discounts aren’t available, and credit/debit card transactions are preferred.
As of March 2019 a daily limit has been imposed of 150 people on the hike per day, so no further tickets will be sold once the 150 person daily limit has been reached. Often you’ll find that the permits can sell out quite quickly, so it’s highly recommended that you check online and purchase your tickets in advance, in order to avoid the risk of travelling all the way there and being turned away. This can especially be the case in the summer months, and you can typically expect permits to be sold out around a week or two in advance.
You’ll be able to find the trail’s parking lot located opposite the trailhead. The Permit Kiosk can be found once you get walking a little further up the trail.
All sales at the Kanarraville Falls hike are final, and there are no refunds available. Any unused tickets resulting from weather related closures however would be able to be reused on any other date in the future, availability permitting.
How Long is the Kanarraville Falls Hike?
The entire hike to the end of the trail and back is around 3.8 miles in total, and can be split into 4 distinctive points. Depending on your comfort levels, whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned expert, and how robust a hike you’re looking to experience, you may only want to go as far as the first or second point. The hike isn’t an especially difficult one though, so you may want to go all out and go all the way. But it’s a good trail for those who may want to taper it to their own abilities.
The 4 points of the Kanarraville Falls hike break down as follows.
Once you’ve walked from the car park to the Permit Kiosk and had your permit scanned you can proceed with the first part of the hike. The distance between Point 1 at the car park and Point 2 is around 0.8 miles, and will take you along the old access road to the lower open parts of the canyon via the Hurricane Cliffs.
Since the trail and the stream are intertwined you’ll cross over the stream a number of times as you make your journey up the road, and you’ll find a toilet located by the first of these stream crossings. This will be the only toilet you’ll find for the rest of the trail, so make sure that you take full advantage of your one and only opportunity to go.
As you continue on your way towards Point 2 things will start to get somewhat overgrown, and if at any time you’re not hiking alongside the stream then you’ll be hiking within it. Therefore, you’ll want to be sure that you’ve got yourself some good quality footwear to keep you steady, and be warned: the stream is pretty well renowned for it’s less than friendly temperatures.
In no time at all you’ll arrive at the Kanarraville Falls themselves—the first major landmark on the trail. This 15-foot high waterfall flowing over a rock-jam really is a sight to behold, and the main reason for taking the trip. Those who are looking for an easier experience, or those with small children, may wish to head back from here. The more adventurous however will want to continue…
At the Lower Falls you’ll find a makeshift ladder (basically just a big log with some metal steps bolted to it) to take you up above the waterfall where you can continue on the trail. You’ll want to be careful though, as the ladder can get fairly wet and slippery and be something of a struggle (it is right next to a 15ft waterfall after all).
If you try the leaning log ladder and feel that continuing any farther from this point is beyond your comfort level, then you can rest assured that this part of the trek alone is more than enough to provide you with amazing sights and memories that’ll last you a life time.
Carrying on around 0.2 miles from Point 2, you’ll quickly get to Point 3. The Water Slide and Pool here is around 1.8 miles into the hike, and it provides a great spot to stop and have a sit down and something to snack on if you so wish. Just make sure to take all of your trash with you, as the area operates a strict “leave no trace” principal.
After a further short walk from point 3 you’ll reach the Upper Falls at Point 4, and you’ll need to traverse some fairly narrow slots and deeper waters than earlier before you can arrive at this spot.
There’s another log “ladder” here to take you further on the hike just like at the Lower Falls at Point 2, however after some flash flooding last year washed it out it’s not considered safe to attempt to continue any further on from the Upper Falls.
You’ll also find throughout the year that the trail’s condition between the Lower Falls at Point 2 and the Upper Falls at Point 4 can vary somewhat depending on the drainage and runoff, so make sure you’re well prepared before you set out.
What Kind of Weather Can I Expect?
While the falls can be hiked all year round, there are still times of the year in which to go that are better than others.
For those looking to visit Kanarraville Falls in the summer, you can expect temperatures to reach as high as 90 degrees at times, which can obviously be quite exhausting. Since such a large proportion of the hike is in the shaded slot canyons or in the water though, visiting the trail in the hotter parts of the summer won’t exactly be unmanageable.
In the winter months though this part of Utah can be fairly cold, with December and January experiencing average highs around 44 and lows around 21. The consensus is that the optimal time to visit Kanarraville Falls is any time between April and October, where the average highs range from the mid 60s to the high 80s and the average lows range from around the mid 30s to high 50s.
The most important factor of the weather that needs to be considered when taking a trip to the Kanarraville Falls though is flash flooding. Flash flooding is a fairly common occurrence, and presents a pretty substantial risk. While it may not be raining exactly at the point of the trailhead that you’re at, any rain in other parts of the state could soon make their way to the canyon, making it unsafe. Therefore setting out on the hike with a storm lurking in the distance is a big no no.
Before heading out and making your way to the falls for your hike it’s always worth checking out the weather and making sure that everything will be ok for your trip, and it’s vital that you take a moment to keep an eye out for any flash flood warnings that might have been put in place. July, August and September are the most common months of the year for flash flooding, and if there are any warnings that have been put in place, be sure that you take them seriously.
How Difficult is the Kanarraville Falls Hike?
The overall difficulty of the Kanarraville Falls Hike is fairly moderate, however you can taper it to your own comfort levels and expertise. There’ll be a little elevation to begin with while walking up the dirt road at the beginning of the hike, however it quickly levels back out again.
You’ll come across plenty of ups and downs along the hike, in addition to some rocks that’ll need scrambling over and a lot of water to walk through. For the most part though the hike isn’t as difficult or strenuous as this may make it sound, and should be well suited to a family friendly day out, especially if only going as far as the Lower Falls at the first point. The most difficult part of the trail will likely be the ladders in the slot canyons, as these are essentially just logs with metal steps bolted to them with some rope as a handrail, and they’re known to get pretty slippery and difficult. Even for the most seasoned hikers will struggle a little.
It’s also worth noting that the water in the trail will be be very cold, and even more so if you’re going in the winter months. Some may struggle with this, especially as a large amount of the 2 to 5 hour hike will require you to be walking through it, so make sure you have a good pair of hiking boots, and maybe even double up on the socks.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
The following are some other frequently asked questions by those looking to take a trip to the Kanarraville Falls hike.
Can I take my dog on the hike?
Unfortunately no pets are allowed on the Kanarraville Falls hike. This is mainly due to the efforts to keep the area and the water clean.
Is the trail dangerous?
You’ll want to make sure you check the weather ahead of time when setting out for a trip to the Kanarraville Falls hike, as flash floods are common in the canyons and can be especially dangerous. You’ll also want to make sure you’re comfortable hiking within the stream and along uneven terrain, so a good pair of hiking boots and hiking poles are highly recommended.
How long will the hike take?
You should probably plan for a 2 to 5 hour or more hike, depending obviously on your levels of fitness and how far you decide to go into the canyon.
Will drinking water be available anywhere to purchase?
No drinking water will be available to purchase anywhere on site, so be sure to bring plenty along with you.
What kind of elevation can I expect?
The overall elevation of the trailhead is roughly 5,652 feet, and the total elevation gain is around 600 feet.
What are the opening hours of the trail?
The trail is open for 12 hours every day from 7am to 7pm.
Is the hike suitable for children?
Children are welcome on the hike during the summer, although it’s important to understand that it can be long and arduous, and may be a bit much for their abilities. Make sure that you keep a good eye on them when it comes to any hazardous obstacles, and try to avoid visiting when the water levels will be running high.
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