Wednesday, May 6, 2015

A Hike in Snow Canyon

After a rainy night, the weather at Sandy Hollow State Park was just about perfect for a nice hike. The forecast was for temperatures in the 70s with partly cloudy skies. The ankle I sprained in early March has been getting better slowly, but it is still not 100%, and I am trying not to overdo. I wear a pressure bandage and good hiking boots whenever I have to walk for any length of time.

Although I try to limit the number of books we carry, I couldn't pass up "Hiking the Southwest's Canyons" by Sandra Hintchman. I think it will come in very handy for finding just the right hikes for us. Tuesday was the first time I have used it and found the perfect place for us to start our Red Rock May. 

Snow Canyon State park is near St. George, Utah. The book gave pretty good descriptions of the short hikes I selected: Butterfly Trail which connected with Lava Cave Trail for a little over a two mile total distance. I could probably do three with no significant pain, but I want to work into it slowly. 

We started on the trail, and made the correct first turn, but then were distracted by this wonderful swirly rock formation. In a sandy area it can be easy to lose the trail, and since the sand was wet from the previous nights rain, other people's footprints showed up quite well. 

We followed the footprints and lost the official trail.

But then we came to an area of slide rock where there were neither foot prints nor any trail markers.

Craig started to climb up this petrified dune, but I didn't agree that that was the way to go. We consulted the map and were even more confused because the line on the map seemed to be going over the swirly sandstone formation. I wasn't sure about that because the Butterfly Trail was marked as an "easy" hike. Then, I spotted a trail about 40 feet down the hill that was going in the right direction too.  But how to get to it?

As we backtracked to the last marker we had seen, we noticed footprints in the sand going many different ways. It looked like a lot of people had been confused.

The trail description in the book says the trail goes down a reddish Navajo Sandstone Slope. We found it.

 The upright in the center on top is a trail marker. There was a matching one at the bottom, so we knew we were going the correct way. It looks harder than it was. Although they were rounded and irregular, the ridges in the sandstone were like cut steps, and I was glad I had my hiking poles for balance. 

Once down, the trail became very nice. There were not many people on the trail, but we did pass a group of teenagers going in the opposite direction. They warned us about a rattlesnake on the trail. We didn't see it, and assumed the gaggle of rambling guys had scared it off.

About halfway through our hike the Butterfly Trail ended and we continued along the Lava Tubes trail.

The black, rough lava rock was a contrast from the wind-carved red, yellow, and white sandstone. There were several lava tubes in the area, but we didn't feel inclined to explore them.

The sandy floor of the canyon was covered by lush green mountain sage, creosote bush, hearty grasses, and blooming wild flowers. Cactus plants were far and few between. The red rock walls of the canyon were immense, and rival similar formations we saw in Sedona.

The trail brought us back to the road, and we completed the loop back to our Jeep with a nice, easy, downhill road walk. Before heading back to Hurricane, we found a picnic table to sit at and enjoy our lunch sandwiches.  Smoked trout!

Snow Canyon State Park does have a RV campground with full hook-ups. We drove by it and saw a couple of large Class As and fifth wheels. I am going to put it on my list of wonderful places to camp, and if we ever come back this way, we will try to get a space.

Finally, a bit of trivia: this canyon was the site of the Hollywood movies Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, The Electric Horseman, and Jeremiah Johnson.

Don't miss it if you are in the area.


  1. the book sounds well worth the space. I can only dream of such wonderful hikes for now. Looking at your hike I wonder how the dogs would fare?

    1. A Chihuahua would be hard pressed. A fox terrier or anything larger would enjoy it. The problem is that the trails are posted "no dogs".

  2. Terrific pictures! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Beautiful pictures. That area is on my bucket list for sure!

  4. Great area and great hike! Love the colors and texture.

  5. I think I saw earlier that you wanted to see the North Rim of Grand Canyon. If you are still going to be in the area, North Rim will be opened up on the 15th of this month. It is well worth waiting around to see.


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