Water Canyon is a great hike in Southern Utah, especially if you want to get off the main tourist path. It isn’t located in Zion National Park, but offers much of the same views/experience, and without the crowds. The trail is well established, and easy to follow, and can be reached in passenger cars, as long as you are ok to drive on a dirt road for a small distance. Water Canyon is located in the Caanan Mountains Wilderness Area near Hildale, Utah about an hour from St. George, Utah on Highway 59. It is also about an hour from Springdale/Zion National Park.

Road leading to the trailhead.

To find the trailhead, put Hildale, Utah into your GPS. In Hildale, turn onto Utah Avenue, and follow it towards the cliffs for 2 miles. Utah Avenue turns slightly left and turns into Canyon Street. Follow Canyon Street for almost a mile, then turn right on Water Canyon Road. You’ll pass a small parking lot that has been fenced in on your right, keep going until you pass a small reservoir on your left and park shortly after. From the turn off to Water Canyon Road it is almost two miles to the parking lot by the reservoir. Park here, and the trail starts towards the canyon. The worst part of the dirt road is between the fenced parking lot and the reservoir, if you don’t want to chance passing, park at the fenced parking lot and walk the rest of the short distance up the road to the reservoir.

You’ll start the hike walking up a canyon, with a creek flowing through it. Continue to follow the well-traveled trail up the canyon remaining parallel to the creek. There are extensions from the trail down to the creek that can be used to find swimming holes and other areas along the creek.

Playing in one of the pools in the “subway” like part of the canyon.

As you continue hiking the canyon will become narrower until you reach a point in the canyon that is like a miniature version of the Subway in Zion. This subway like canyon makes the hike worth the trek, and can serve as a turnaround point. Here you will find little waterfalls, pools, boulders, and, little slot canyons.

If you want to continue, walk up the main section of the subway canyon where water is flowing, then the trail follows the left side of the canyon over/around some small slot canyons. You can explore the slot canyons by going below the trail, then back track to the main trail. The trail will continue to hug the left-hand side of the canyon, until you are out of the narrow canyon. When the canyon opens up, the trail will continue on the left, and will start to switch back to the canyon rim. The hike up is worth the views from the top.

View from the top of the rim looking back down Water Canyon

From the rim of the canyon, you can further explore, but the trails aren’t as well traveled or marked. Enjoy the views from the top, surrounded by ponderosa pine trees, then head back down covering the same trail to return to the trailhead/parking.


The total time for the round trip, including stops to play in the water, excursions into slot canyons, and photos is about four hours.

This has been one of my favorite hikes in Southern Utah, and it is made even better since it isn’t crowded like many of the hikes in the parks. Let me know if you have any questions about the hike, I’d love to offer any help.

Walking through one of the little slot canyons.