This hike is probably 3 years over due. I first learned about it from my father who would bring it up on occasion. Then I looked into it and for what ever reason never got around to doing it. Part of the reason is that I don’t like doing hikes by my self, especially though back country. Nor do I like camping by my self. So with my internship in southern Utah coming to an end, I decided to finally do the hike. I called up my dad, planned the trip, and headed out early October.
Hike Distance: Lee’s Pass, Kolob Canyon- 10 miles one way (20 total)
Hike Time: 4 hours at a good pace(one way), but probably closer to 5-6 for most.
The hike begins at Lee’s Pass in the Kolob Canyon Section of Zion National Park. The arch can also be reached from the Hop Valley trail that begins along Kolob Canyon Road which begins out by Virgin Utah. The hike from that section is about the same distance. The trail begins north of the parking lot for Lee’s Pass and descends down into the bottom of the canyon.
The trail is easy to follow but descends about 500 or more feet to the bottom of the canyon. This is important to remember in that you will have to climb back up this. Also the descent is long, maybe close to a mile. Take this into consideration. If you are to walk down this thing, make sure you have plenty of water, even if you are just planning on meandering down to the bottom just to check it out.
After you reach the bottom of the hill, the trail will head south along the canyon face traversing timber creek providing some refreshing views of the canyon walls above you. In this area we saw wild turkeys stripping seeds off of grass. There were probably about 15 of them moving around in a little flock (They look more like dinosaurs to me so a pack sounds better in my head.). After 4 or 5 miles, the trail turns east and begins heading into the main part of Kolob.
Soon after the turn, you will arrive at La Verkin Creek. It flows year round (from what I hear) and is a good source of drinking water (all water needs to be filtered). There is also a spring called Betty spring located after the arch turn off that can be used to refill your water as well. The trail will follow the Creek all the way to the turn off to Kolob Arch.
If you can plan further ahead you may be able to get a good camping spot. We did a last minute reservation and kinda got screwed. So camping requires a reservation/permit that can be picked up from the office at either the main canyon or the visitor center by Kolob. I think it can be done online but double check for sure. Leave no trace principles apply. Camping is only in designated camping areas. If you don’t have a permit you have to hike back out. There are restrictions on camping party size to 6-12 from my memory.
The best camping locations are 7-10, but 4,5,6, are good as well. 7-10 are right next to the turn off to the arch, 4,5,6, are a bit further down the trail, but are very nice. All of these are near the stream, but a bit off the trail.
As for us when we went there to get a permit, all of these were taken. This caused us to have to go even further up to the Hop Valley camping areas. Note if you have to go to hop valley from Lee’s
Pass it is a huge climb. The hill is massive and is easily a 500 foot elevation gain from the river down below. It is very very steep as well. Also there is no available drinking water up above in Hop Valley. It is contaminated by farm animals. Filter some water before you go.
The camping up here is nice. There will be cows around to give you company and there are plenty of trees in the two camping sites.
We set up camping here and tried out something different. I did not want to bring poles because they are too heavy for 10 miles of hiking. So I used ropes strung up among trees to give our pitiful tent shape. It did not look good, but overall worked well. I would do it again.
Early in the morning we headed out to go hike up to Kolob Arch. Setting out really early (it was dark the entire time) we got back down to the turn off to the arch in about an hour.
The Arch is up a one mile canyon. The trail is not great, but if you follow the stream and the foot tracks you will get to the arch easily enough. This part of the hike is actually kinda difficult. The trail climbs and falls steeply and requires some scrambling occasionally. The arch itself is really high up on the mountain. There is a sign that points you to the arch so missing it is kinda difficult. You are allowed to go beyond the arch lookout point but it is discouraged. It promotes erosion. I did for photography reasons and was not all that impressed. If you were going to take some good photographs of the arch you might as well do it from the look out spot. (I also almost broke my tripod and my camera)
I would do it again. But not for the arch. I would go to bear trap canyon and enjoy the main canyon for what it is. Kolob Arch is hard to see and worth it just once or twice maybe. The rest of it would be great for photography purposes.