JOE’S GUIDE TO ZION NATIONAL PARKCitrusMilo.com
HOP VALLEY TRAIL

Trail Description Photos 1 2 3

Hop Valley TrailOverview:
The Hop Valley Trail is a 6.5-mile stretch of trail that connects the Hop Valley Trailhead (in the Kolob Terrace section of the park) with the La Verkin Creek Trail (in the Kolob Canyons section) and is part of the "Trans-Zion Hike" that allows backpackers to hike from the Kolob section all the way down to the main canyon. While the scenery in Hop Valley is actually quite sublime, this section of park is part of a private inset of land where cattle still graze freely. Numerous stream crossings and the omnipresent cow droppings probably make the "Plop Valley Trail" less than appealing to the general public.

Hiking Ideas:
The Hop Valley Trail is not exactly a destination hike that the general public would be interested in, but for those looking for pleasant scenery that gets away from the crowds, this isn't a bad way to spend a day. Fall is probably the most pleasant time of year to hike here; in summer, the heat and sandy trail can make for miserable hiking, and in spring, the Hop Creek crossings can be deep and muddy. There are probably two reasons to hike through Hop Valley:

Detailed Description (Hop Valley Trailhead to La Verkin Creek Trail):
The Hop Valley Trail is an easy to follow route with only a few spots where one has to pay attention to navigation. Starting at the Hop Valley Trailhead, the mostly level trail heads north into the sandy, sagebrush-laden, high desert. Roughly 1.5 miles from the trailhead is the fence that signals the start of the private inset of land and cattle territory. Be sure to close the gate behind you. The sandy trail continues heading north and you will see more signs of ranching, including a dammed up seasonal pond. The trail then begins to slowly descend and we start to get some impressive views of Hop Valley below and the Kolob formations in the distance.

After a fairly steep and rocky final downhill, we arrive at the floor of the valley. For the next several miles, there is no official trail; just follow the paths of use down the valley. The head of the valley is fairly swampy, then it turns into a flowing creek with the help of a stream coming from a side canyon to the east. The scenery here is quite beautiful, but there are cow droppings everywhere, several unavoidable muddy stream crossings, and you are likely to have several live bovine encounters. Keep in mind that although the water appears to be nice and clear, it is contaminated with cattle feces. Several canyons to the east beckon for random exploration if you have the time and energy.

Roughly five miles into the hike is the northern NPS gate (spanning the entire canyon) which marks the end of the cattle zone. The campsites are located just north of the gate, and you may notice how remarkably more pleasant the ground plantlife looks. In the vicinity of Campsite A, keep an eye out for NPS markers that signal the trail crossing over and heading up the west side of the valley. Hop Valley Trail If you miss the trail and continue to follow the now-dry streambed, you will eventually get shelved and will have to backtrack or bushwhack. (There are also numerous old overgrown horse and game trails in this area that may trick you into following them. Note on the map how far west of the streambed the official trail winds up going.)

After leaving the streambed, the trail leads up through a beautiful forested section, then offers a wonderful little viewpoint to Gregory Butte and the Kolob formations to the north. The trail makes a final descent to join up with the La Verkin Creek Trail. If your destination is the Kolob Arch, head left (west) on the La Verkin Creek Trail for a quarter of a mile to the spur trail to the Kolob Arch (roundtrip one mile). Remember that the La Verkin Creek Trail is roughly 1000-feet lower in elevation than the Hop Valley Trailhead, so the return hike will take a bit more effort.

Hop Valley Trail Map Hop Valley Trail Map.
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Campsite Descriptions:
The two designated campsites in Hop Valley are thankfully located north of the NPS fence that keeps cattle to the south. While the campsites are in a beautiful forested area on a bench above the streambed, the sites are quite sandy and are surrounded by many ancient horse droppings. For those doing the "Trans-Zion" Hike, a campsite along the nearby La Verkin Creek Trail would probably be the more preferable option. Note: Names and descriptions below are from the Zion Backcountry Desk. (There used to be three campsites in Hop Valley, but NPS eliminated the Snag Camp in 2012.)

Hop Valley TrailDriving to the Trailhead:
To get to the Hop Valley Trailhead from Springdale, drive west to the town of Virgin, then turn north on the Kolob Terrace Road. It is roughly a 12.5-mile drive up the Kolob Terrace Road to the Hop Valley Trailhead. If planning your trip for early spring, check conditions at the Backcountry Desk as the Kolob Terrace Road often gets closed for winter due to snow, although this is more of an issue higher up at the Wildcat Canyon Trailhead.

Joe's Spin:
This is not a destination hike and it is hard for me to recommend this route to the general public, except as the only means to do the "Trans-Zion" hike. But beyond the cows, their droppings, and "stinkboot" from the stream crossings, the scenery in Hop Valley is really quite sublime. If cows were ever banned from grazing in Hop Valley, this would really be an enchanting area to hike.

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