Snow Canyon State Park Hiking Trails
Southern Utah has no shortage of hiking trails, and in the time that we’ve lived here so far, we’ve had the opportunity to check out some popular spots as well as some excellent hidden gems. Some of our favorites around Snow Canyon are Pioneer Names, Hidden Pinyon, Petrified Dunes, Lava Flow and Red Mountain Trail (outside the park near Diamond Valley). There is one trail that had eluded us and we were waiting for the opportunity to try it - Johnson Canyon Trail. It’s closed between March and September during peak season at the park because it's a protected habitat for local plants and animals. We got out there in the fall to see what the trail had to offer!
Johnson Canyon Trail
Trail Type: Out & Back
Difficulty: Easy Peasy
Trail Terrain: Dirt/Occasional rocks
Landscape: Desert views, red rock canyon, river bed, and views of the city from afar.
Length: 1.8 miles round-trip
Parking: Across the street from the trail head - about 12-15 spaces available.
This is an easy trek that takes you east of the southern entrance of Snow Canyon State Park and curves around to the north into a short, but beautiful canyon called Johnson Canyon. It’s only 1.8 miles round-trip and there is practically no elevation gain, so it’s a quick and fun hike to take kids on for a nice family outing.
Of course, we took our baby with us as well. In fact, Angie was thrilled to try out her new backpack - an Osprey carrier that holds the baby as well as other essential items (snacks, water, jackets, etc.). We knew this would be the perfect trail to test it since it was a short hike and we heard it was easy.
There’s parking across the street from the trail head where we got the little one situated into her comfy new carrier before we set off. Don't forget to pay the Snow Canyon State Park entrance fee! It's currently $10 per vehicle or $5 per pedestrian/cyclist. Alternatively, you can grab an annual State Park Pass for $75 that will get you into any of Utah's incredible State Parks for an entire year. It's well worth it if you are out hiking as much as us!
A flat, dirt trail lead the way to the east where we came across the trail information sign that had some great details on the habitat and local critters. Austin was desperately hoping to see a tortoise at some point on the trail since he has never seen one in the wild.
Continuing on, it wasn’t long before we were far enough from the road to enjoy incredible views of Snow Canyon’s vast desert landscape. Aside from the impressive red rock cliffs, there are tons of desert plants, and even piles of black lava rock. We also had excellent views of Ivins and St. George from the higher parts of the trail.
The trail curves a bit to the south as you approach the outside of the canyon where we came across a super cool gully full of more lava rocks and gigantic red boulders, it’s a great view! At this point it was starting to get a bit warm outside. The first part of the trail is in full sun, and even in November, temperatures are 60s to 70s during the day in St. George and we got a bit of a late start this particular morning.
However, the timing couldn’t have been better, because as soon as we curved north into the mouth of the canyon, we were completely surrounded by the canyon's walls, giving us instant relief from the sun’s vicious rays.
The first thing we noticed was how beautiful the trees were. Perfectly positioned along the riverbed were a variety - many had leaves that were a striking gold color. I guess we were lucky to have picked a great time of year to check it out just as the leaves were turning.
The trail at this point gets a tad rockier, but nothing that’s too difficult as long as you watch your step! Austin was leading the way when his mind was totally blown by what we saw next. A huge red rock arch along the top of the east canyon wall. Now, we aren’t really sure how we didn’t expect it - plenty of resources online make mention of the arch and the trail is even called Johnson Canyon Arch Trail on Google maps, but in our opinion, it made it that much better when it was a surprise! The only bummer is that the arch has to be viewed from a distance, but Austin was able to zoom in fairly close to grab a quick snapshot.
One of the great parts about the hike was how quiet it was in the canyon. It’s very peaceful and we only encountered a couple other hikers, so we were able to enjoy the silence all to ourselves for a while. Of course, it didn’t take long for Olivia to figure out that her voice echoed in the canyon, so that made for a fun time as well.
After about 30 minutes of hiking, we reached the back wall of the canyon, completely enclosed by the monstrous red rocks. It was quite serene and relaxing back there. We enjoyed the cool air in the canyon before heading back out the way we came.
We will definitely be back to do this trail again! It's a quick, easy trail and an excellent Snow Canyon hike to add to your list when you visit the park!
Watch our adventure below!