LA VERKIN CREEK TRAIL (Kolob Arch, Beartrap Canyon, Willis Creek)

Trail Description Photos 1 2

La Verkin Creek Trail, Kolob ArchOverview:
The La Verkin Creek Trail is the main through trail of the Kolob Canyons section of Zion. Starting at Lee Pass along the Kolob Canyons Road, this trail runs almost 11 miles in length, looping south around the Finger Canyons, then turning east to join up with La Verkin Creek. The trail heads all the way to the remote northwest corner of the Kolob Canyons, but few people will hike this trail end-to-end. The La Verkin Creek Trail is most used for day hikes to the famous Kolob Arch or as part of a backpacking hike along the Trans-Zion Trek. A leisurely two-day backpack offers more opportunities for exploration.

Several Ways To Hike the La Verkin Creek Trail:

Detailed Description from Lee Pass:
To get to the trailhead from the Kolob Canyons entrance, drive roughly 3.8 miles along the Kolob Canyons Road to Lee Pass. This trailhead is the start of the La Verkin Creek Trail and there are several parking spaces along the road. The trail heads south and quickly descends 400 feet into the valley below. La Verkin Creek Trail Once in the dry wash of Timber Creek, the trail descends more slowly as it makes its way past the various Kolob Finger Canyons. At 3 miles, the trail leaves Timber Creek to pass the final Finger Canyon and then heads east to slowly descend to the beautiful flowing waters in the valley of La Verkin Creek.

At the intersection of the trail and La Verkin Creek is a great spot for you to take a break and sit by the water, especially on hot sunny days. Note that this spot is roughly 1000 feet lower than Lee Pass; you will notice this difference on the hike out! (La Verkin Creek is a reliable source of water, but water must be treated as it is downstream of a ranching operation outside of the park.) For the next two miles, the trail follows La Verkin Creek and you will pass many designated campsites.

Side Trip to the Kolob Arch Trail:
6.2 miles from Lee Pass is the Kolob Arch Trail; this short spur trail to the north is a little over .5 mile long (one-way) and heads up the side drainage known as "Icebox Canyon" or "Waterfalls Canyon." While the trail is a bit less obvious than the La Verkin Creek Trail and involves a wee bit of scrambling, soon enough you will reach the end of the trail and a good viewing area of the impressive Kolob Arch. Most dayhikers will view the arch, and then retrace their steps back to Lee Pass for a full day hike.

Hop Valley Trail and Beartrap Canyon:
Only .3 miles east of the Kolob Arch Trail is the junction with the Hop Valley Trail. Those doing the Trans-Zion Trek will head south to follow the Hop Valley Trail up and out of the valley. Beyond this junction, the La Verkin Creek Trail continues to follow the stream as it begins to head northeast as the walls close in for a much more dramatic section of canyon. The trail now follows the stream more closely and crosses it several times.

Two miles from the Kolob Arch Trail is the mouth of Beartrap Canyon, a beautiful dark side canyon that is more slot-like and dramatic than any of the other canyons in the region. From its mouth, it is only a quick half a mile hike upstream to Beartrap Canyon Falls, a wonderful Zen-like 30-foot high waterfall and alcove. The waterfall prevents any travel further up this canyon. (Note: In 1998, a landslide dammed up this canyon creating a large stagnant backflow, but as of May 2003, it cleared up. You can still see remnants of the massive logjam that still remains in the streambed.)

Willis Creek and the NPS Border:
If you choose to explore further up La Verkin Creek, you will be entering territory that few people bother to see. From the mouth of Beartrap Canyon, the trail continues another 2.5 to the northwest border of the park. La Verkin Creek becomes overgrown and by Willis Creek, the streambed turns dry. The scenery is admittedly less interesting here, looking more like an overgrown northwestern pine forest than a southwestern desert canyon. Near the border of the park, Willis Creek opens up to an open valley. The end of the trail is extremely anti-climactic with an NPS gate that marks the border of the park. (Although the trail used to continue east to the Kolob Reservoir, private landowners have blocked access, so this is off-limits.) While this might not be the most exciting destination hike, you might enjoy the fact that you are in the least-visited corner of Zion National Park! Retrace your steps to return to civilization.

La Verkin Creek Trail Map 1 La Verkin Creek Trail Map #1:
Lee Pass to the Kolob Arch.

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La Verkin Creek Trail Map 2 La Verkin Creek Trail Map #2:
Kolob Arch to Willis Creek.

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Willis Creek, ZionBackpacking Information:
Camping along the La Verkin Creek Trail is permitted only in the 17 designated campsites. A wilderness permit is required for any multi-day hike; choose your campsite when you pick up your permit at the Zion Wilderness Desk or at the Kolob Visitors Center. (See the official Zion Backpacking page for more info on permits.) Please do not squat at any campsite that you don't have a permit for!

Campsite Descriptions:
Just about all of the designated campsites are great; many are in great spots well off the trail, either right next to La Verkin Creek or under a grove of pine trees. Campsites 5-11 are good choices if you are hiking to the Kolob Arch and back in two days. Campsites 1-3 are less interesting, but provide a good camping opportunity for those who don't want to hike too far. Campsites 12 and 13 are quite remote and secluded, and I would only recommend these if you plan on hiking far up Willis Creek. (Note: There used to be 20 campsite along the La Verkin Creek Trail, but the NPS eliminated three of them in 2005 and four more in 2012.) Names and descriptions below are from the Zion Backcountry Desk.

Beartrap Canyon FallsWater Sources:
If you are doing the Kolob Arch day hike, bring your own water. If you are backpacking, La Verkin Creek is a great dependable source of fresh water. Remember to purify as the creek is downstream of farming on the high plateau above the park. (Nearby Hop Valley usually has flowing water, but it is so contaminated from grazing cattle, it is best to ignore.)

Joe's Spin:
This is one of my favorite backpacking/camping areas in Zion, but this isn't one of my favorite hiking trails. Parts of the trail are sandy and monotonous and the scenery is more subtle than the main canyon. But the campsites along the creek make this a great experience and the side hike to the Kolob Arch is well worth the effort. Beartrap Canyon up to the falls is also worth the extra effort. For most people, however, hiking further up Willis Creek to the end of the trail might be a bit anti-climactic as this section is less photogenic. It is still enjoyable to be in the most isolated corner of the park.

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