Box Canyon in Maple Canyon is what we like to call an adventurous hike. There is a lot of scrambling, climbing and scaling. This hike is perfect for older kids who like a little freedom to explore. If you have younger kids, you might want to wait unless you feel you are confident enough to help them over obstacles. There is a lot of potential for injury if you’re not capable and careful. But we also think that Box Canyon is one of the most unique and fun hikes in Utah.
Box Canyon is rocky and narrow and leads about half a mile to a trickling waterfall. The canyon is a popular place for climbers because of its steep rocky walls, and we passed several. Large round river rocks litter the bottom of the canyon, and they can move or roll if you’re not careful. The canyon varies in width from about 25 feet down to 8 feet. The canyon walls are perpendicular for the entire hike and reach 80 feet above you.
What makes this hike exciting is that huge boulders have fallen blocking the canyon. You’ll have to scramble under a few, climb around a few, and even scale one or two. The trail is appropriate for anyone for the first half, and there is a large open cave that you can climb up and check out. This can be a tricky one for little kids, though. Mom usually skips out on climbing up and watches from below.
In the second half of the canyon the scrambling begins. You climb over rocks and under them. Then you will come to the ladder. There is a rope on the side to help you climb the ladder and over the big rock at the top. We are grateful someone added the ladder because it used to just be the rope!
Beyond the rope, the canyon narrows out and you come to a small grotto where you’ll find the waterfall. There are ropes leading up this one, too, and a long time ago, when Dad was younger, he scaled it. The canyon continues up that way for a long time, eventually climbing out to the top of the mountain. Or course, the waterfall, which is really just a trickle, is very wet and slippery. Climbing it is for the very experienced, or the very insane. We never climb up the last rope at the waterfall.
Our boys love the waterfall, and they climb around the walls of the grotto a bit before we turn around and adventure back. Of course the trail is an out-and-back, and it took us about 90 minutes roundtrip. From the start of the canyon to the waterfall, you will walk about 1/2 mile, which makes this trail 1 mile roundtrip.
Tips for Families
You may have noticed that we are telling you this hike is not for small children while we hauled our 3, 6, and 9 year-old along. You may attempt this hike, and you can certainly do the first half no matter your skill level. But please remember as you go up, that whatever you climb is twice as hard to come down. It is also this unique level of difficulty that led to our boys proclaiming Box Canyon to be one of their favorite hikes.
We do think most families will enjoy this canyon and hike, but we want you to be well prepared as to what type of trail it is. The entire canyon bottom is full of rocks, so it makes hiking a little trickier too, since it is not a dirt trail.
Wear shoes with good tread. Take your time and only climb up something you know you can get back down!
To reach Box Canyon, you have to go to the tiny town of Fountain Green in Sanpete County. From there, the signage is great, with the first sign sending you west toward the mountains on 400 South. As you leave town, the road curves left and takes you out to the tiny town of Jerusalem and Freedom (Didn’t know there was a Jerusalem in Utah, did you?) The distance is 6 miles from Fountain Green to the turn-off.
There’s a sign in Freedom that turns you west (right), and then you turn right again after 1/2 mile. This road leads you up Maple Canyon. It is a short ride to the end of the pavement. Then it’s .8 miles to the pullout for Box Canyon. There is a wide spot on the right (north) side of the road to park, and you can see the trail that leads into Box Canyon. There is no sign that says Box Canyon, so watch carefully for the opening.
Another trail in Maple Canyon is the Maple Canyon Arch. This trail is a climb, but it leads to an arch. And make sure to go to Roy’s Pizza in Ephraim for delicious pizza after a day of adventuring.