Taylor Creek Trail is a family friendly hike in the Kolob Canyons section of Zion National Park. Many people don’t make it to this smaller, less-visited section of the park because there are no roads that connect it to Zion Canyon or Kolob Terrace Road, which are the other two sections of Zion. Luckily, the access to Kolob Canyons is at it’s own exit on the I-15 just north of St George.
To do this hike you do have to have stop at the Visitor Center and buy a pass or show your National Park Pass. It is $30 to enter Zion National Park, but the fee gets you into all three sections of the park. You’ll also need to be aware of group size. There is a strict 12 person limit to any group doing this hike, and we saw the ranger call people out who claimed not to be together because she thought they were.
After the Visitor’s Center, drive just 1.7 miles up the road to the trailhead, which has its own parking lot on the lefthand side of the road. From there, you can take the 5.2 mile (RT) out-and-back trail that follows along Taylor Creek.
At the end of the trail is a sandstone structure called a double arch on the sign, but which looks an awfully lot like a grotto to us. The grotto is trickling wet and covered with moss and grass, which adds to the color of the beautiful red sandstone that is what makes Zion famous.
However, the grotto isn’t the only reason to make this hike, in fact, it isn’t even the main reason. The beautiful thing about Taylor Creek Trail is that the hike has you cross the small stream it follows again and again. Someone told us they’d crossed the creek 61 times, and though we didn’t count we weren’t surprised. There were also 2 old cabins. They weren’t much to look at, just empty old cabins, but if your kids are motivated by a destination, as ours are, then you can do a hike to a cabin and back. As nearly as we could tell, it’s about a mile to the first cabin and 2 miles to the second.
A few places we read on the Internet said that this hike would certainly get you wet. We disagree. Though we had a few missteps, no one got more than a wet sock and ankle, all from slips on the rocks. There is no wading required, and we laughed at the people in dock shoes that we saw along the trail. [Note: we hiked in early April, which would seem to be the wettest time.] But if you want to get wet, you most certainly can. You can plan on playing in the water and wear swimsuits. There is a lot of sand along the trail as well due to it’s proximity to the water, so be prepared to change those shoes at the end of the hike.
The other nice thing about the Taylor Creek hike is that the destination is not all that essential. The grotto is okay, but the hike is what matters, and we don’t mean that in a metaphorical way. Crossing the stream is what’s fun, so don’t worry so much about the 5+ mile price tag on this hike, just walk out as far as you can and enjoy yourself.
Tips for Families:
- Don’t worry about “making it” to the end. Just enjoy a leisurely stroll until you’re tired and then turn around. The grotto isn’t all that spectacular anyway. Our boys really liked crossing the stream and that’s what they talk about. You could walk half a mile, and then turn around and still have done a beautiful hike.
- Teach your little ones to stop when approaching the creek and assess the situation. Don’t plunge across. With a little thought, we found a way to keep dry at every crossing.
- Don’t worry about getting wet. It can easily be avoided. Wear good hiking shoes and socks, which are much more comfortable than most shoes designed to get wet.
- Take dry shoes and socks and leave them in the car. Someone in your group will manage to soak a foot on accident, and it will be nice to change into dry shoes after the hike.
- Take plenty of water. In the summer this area is pretty scorching, and though there is some shade, you are certain to sweat a lot. You’ll need to drink often along the trail.
- If you plan to go the full 5 miles, take lunch and/or snacks. Our boys were starving about halfway up the hike, so we were glad we had packed a full lunch.