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Kanarra Falls is an easy to moderately difficult out and back hike just outside of Kanarraville, Utah.
During this hike, you can expect to experience a not so flat, but not difficult, hike that takes you back into a slot canyon where you will find the two waterfalls of Kanarra.
Kanarra Falls is an easy to moderate difficulty hike that starts off dry but will have your feet soaked by the end. The reason why I say that Kanarra Falls could end up being moderately difficult is that the trail has uphill sections as well as unsure footing as you get deeper into the slot canyon. All of that plus the fact that you’re decently high in elevation compared to most other places. If you’re able to handle all of that, then Kanarra should be a breeze.
The main attractions of Kanarra Falls are the Lower Kanarra Falls, Kanarra Falls Slide and Pools, and the Upper Kanarra Falls with the Lower Kanarra Falls being the most recognizable. The lower falls get all of the fame with the log resting on the falls, but if you decide to go past the lower falls, there’s more to be seen.
Kanarra’s slide and pools can be seen if you decide to climb up the lower falls and hike around .3 miles up the slot canyon. From there, you can sit under the waterfalls or even slide down a water-carved slide that drops down into the natural pools below.
Cliff diving into the pools is severely not recommended simply because the water is nowhere deeps enough to do it safely. If you want to see the Upper Kanarra Falls, all you have to do is hike another .45 miles up the slot canyon.
Getting over the upper falls is hit and miss because of the flooding that happens from time to time up there. If the water flow gets too heavy, it tends to knock down the other, less stable, log ladder that people put up to climb the upper falls. When we went, the log looked very unstable so we opted out of seeing what’s beyond the upper falls.
Distance: 4.6 miles
Hiking Time: About 4 hours depending on your individual hiking speed
Lowest Elevation: 5667 feet
Maximum Elevation: 6837 feet
Elevation Gain: 1483
Due to part of this hike is in a slot canyon, I had to make a custom track to get the distance as close to accurate as I could which is why it looks so cluttered.
Route Type: Out and Back
Route Terrain: Dirt, Rocks, and River Walk
Route Difficulty: Easy to Moderate with some uphill sections.
Accessibility: Easily accessible with a permit.
WHAT TO TAKE
Food and Water: About 2 liters of water and your standard trail snacks like trail mix, jerky, or something with salt or protein.
Footwear: Hiking boots above all else but you can get away with a good tennis shoe. Water shoes may be recommended if you don’t want to get your boots wet, but I wouldn’t hike in the water shoes.
Sun Protection: Sunscreen is about all you need due to most of the trail being in the shade because of the surrounding trees and canyon walls.
Important Gear: A backpack and hiking boots are the only real essential items that you need to bring.
Other Gear: A camera with a wide-angle lens, tripod, gloves with grip if you don’t trust yourself on a wet ladder, and a dry bag if you’re concerned about water getting into your bag.
As per my standard recommendation, 2 liters of water is the minimum for all my hikes including this one. Even though it’s a shorter hike that keeps you out of the sun most of the time, as well as keeping you wet, Kanarra can reach up to 100 degrees in the summertime so it’s better to over-prepare when it comes to water.
For footwear, you will hardly ever see me recommend anything other than a hiking boot with ankle support as the primary shoe for the hike. You can get away with wearing a quality running shoe as we saw multiple people on the trail with them and they seemed to be doing just fine.
Like I said before, sunscreen is really the only major sun protection you’ll need if you can handle the potential heat.
With the hike being mostly shaded, sun exposure doesn’t become an issue until you go up the first ladder at the Lower Kanarra Falls or until you hike out of the slot canyon.
Do keep in mind, however, that depending on what time of day you hike, the sun could make its way into the canyon so be sure to adjust accordingly.
If the sun and heat are a factor for you, try taking in a UV umbrella or cooling towels to lower your body temperature as well as block out the sun which can wear you down.
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The gear you need for this hike is pretty basic in that you don’t need anything special to fully enjoy the hike. A backpack and reliable shoes are the only two must-have items for this hike that I can think of. If you are worried about the ladder being slick, a pair of latex gardening gloves usually does the trick if you’re looking to buy in bulk without going crazy.
Cameras are always a fun thing to bring to show off the trail and what it has to offer but remember that because this is a hike with water and waterfalls, water spray may splash onto your gear if you’re not careful. A dry bag can come in handy if you want to make sure that your electronics stay safe but from my experience, they’re not 100 percent necessary.
Tripods or monopods are nice to have because it allows you to set up a stable shot as well as act as makeshift hiking poles if you really need it.
Tripods are also an easy way to prepare a shot while people are in the way without having to hold an awkward angle until they move.
HOW TO GET THERE
Address: The Town parking lot is located adjacent to the trailhead at 100 North 400 East.
Trailhead: From the parking lot, all you have to do it follow the signs up to a well-traveled trail.
The trail and trailhead to Kanarra Falls are super easy to find by following the signs as well as the very well-traveled trail. With Kanarra Falls being a permitted hike, you have to check into the rangers station which is a white building that is a little way up the trail. If you hike Kanarra Falls early enough, the rangers station may be closed in which case you simply do the hike and then check in on your way out.
PERMITS AND FEES
There is a $12 per person fee that is required for this hike that is best to buy online prior to your hike as they normally sell out the 150 permits per day up to a week in advance.
Small children are treated like adults when it comes to permits in that they have to have one in order to do the hike; there is no age limit cut off.
Buy permits on the Kanarra Falls permit website.
There is a decently big parking lot at the base of the trail and the parking fee is built into the permit. (Prior to the permit system, you had to pay per car.)
There is a restroom at the trailhead but there isn’t one on the trail itself.
Kanarra Falls only has bathrooms at the trailhead/ parking lot which means you need to plan to do your business ahead of time or else your trip may end sooner than you wanted it to
Cell service is available at the trailhead and starts to fade away as you go further into the trail into the slot canyon.
Kanarra Falls is kid-friendly but the ground can become unstable at times. The trail is mostly kid-friendly as long as they have sure footing, especially in the canyon.
From the trailhead to the slot canyon opening, it’s a dirt trail which should be easy for most kids. From the slot canyon on is where I would be slightly hesitant about letting kids run free just because it is extremely wet and slippery.
The ladder at the first waterfall may be a stopping point for smaller children.
As long as they understand how to navigate a riverwalk, kind of like The Narrows at Zion, then kids should be able to complete this hike.
Kanarra Creek is the watershed for Kanarraville town. Human and animal feces can cause contamination and therefore, dogs are not allowed on the trail even on a leash.
If a dog is seen on the trail by an employee, they will ask you to leave with the dog or find arrangements for the dog if you want to complete the hike.
My parents raised me to appreciate nature and how to enjoy it with family and friends. Group camping trips, family hikes, and long ski weeks are what I grew up enjoying.
As an adult, I now focus on more travel to backcountry areas to enjoy vistas and formations that not many get to see, trails that are on and off the beaten path, and camping.