Johnson Canyon Trail — A Snow Canyon Adventure Reviewed by Momizat on . Rating:
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Johnson Canyon Trail — A Snow Canyon Adventure

Photos by Linne Marsh
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The holiday season is a great time to explore Southern Utah. It is wonderful to venture outside and remember why I love living here. Hiking in St. George during the winter is one of my favorite pastimes; not because I avoid sweating profusely within five minutes of starting a hike, but because one of my favorite trails in Snow Canyon Park is open for the season.

Snow Canyon Photo courtesy of Linne Marsh

Johnson Canyon Trail is an easy 1.75 mile, family-friendly hike located at the southern entrance of Snow Canyon. It is short, but exciting as it boasts picturesque views of lava flows, red-rock walls, and an impressive 200-foot span arch. Having done this hike multiple times, I still find ways to marvel in the astonishing views and power of nature. The trail gains very little elevation from the trailhead to the arch. My toddler almost walks the entire trail, but there are a few spotty patches of exposed lava that she insists on being carried over.

 

Snow Canyon Photo courtesy of Linne Marsh

The trail begins with a panoramic view of black lava flows, green cottonwood and willow glades, and the red-rock mountains unique to southern Utah landscape. The trail cuts through a dry riverbed, traverses a cliff edge, and opens to a view of Johnson’s Canyon and more impressively Johnson’s Arch. It is the largest arch in this area, and like most arches, it is predominantly formed by the erosive power of the wind. The arch is protected by a fence with the hope that visitors admire it from afar. If you look real hard, you might be able to see the names of early pioneers etched in the sandstone wall. The trail concludes with a moderate section of hiking to the end of the canyon where you see a pool of water. It is believed that the pioneers kept their livestock in this portion of the canyon because of the natural protection offered by the surrounding sandstone walls and the easy access to water.

Snow Canyon Photo courtesy of Linne Marsh

Johnson’s Canyon has the only flowing water in all of Snow Canyon Park. Snow Spring is a life source for the various species of plant and wildlife in Johnson’s Canyon. In fact, this natural spring provides food and water to the largest amount of species of wildlife in Snow Canyon Park. The lush vegetation is clearly evident along the trail, and if you’re really lucky you may get a glimpse of one of the many creatures that make this canyon their home. During the summer months trees, cliffs, and canyon faces play host to nesting grounds and offer protection from the extreme heat. Johnson Canyon Trail is an important part of the Southern Utah’s unique habitat, but it is prone to natural erosion and careless visitors. To protect wildlife and maintain the habitat, the Johnson Canyon Trail is only open from October 31st until March 15th.

It is a short 5 month season, but this is also a pretty short hike, so we should all be able to squeeze it in somewhere. With all the ham, potatoes, pie, and chocolate I consume during the holidays, don’t be surprised if you see me out enjoying this trail—a lot. It may be a short hike, but it is a great way to share the beauty of Southern Utah with everyone from my 7-month-old to my grandparents.

Happy Holidays and Happy Hiking!

You can follow freelance writer Linne Marsh at her facebook page.

Directions:

From I-15 northbound: Take exit 6 (Bluff Street). Go north on Bluff Street to the intersection with Snow Canyon Parkway. Turn left onto Snow Canyon Parkway and proceed approximately 3.5 miles, then turn right onto Snow Canyon Drive. Follow that road to the park’s south entrance. Make the $6 day use payment and make a U-turn. There is a parking lot about 400 ft south of the Snow Canyon Gate. The Johnson Canyon Trail trailhead is directly across the street from the parking lot.

 

From I-15 southbound: Take exit 10 (Washington). Turn right off the ramp, then take an immediate left at the light. That will put you onto Red Hills Parkway. Follow the parkway for about 5 miles while it parallels the interstate and then climbs over the Red Hill. Follow it to its intersection with Bluff Street/ SR-18. Proceed through that light and you will be on Snow Canyon Parkway. Follow it for approximately 3.5 miles and then turn right onto Snow Canyon Drive. Follow this road to the south entrance of the park. Make the $6 day use payment and make a U-turn. There is a parking lot about 400 ft south of the Snow Canyon Gate. The Johnson Canyon Trail trailhead is directly across the street from the parking lot.

The holiday season is a great time to explore Southern Utah. It is wonderful to venture outside and remember why I love living here. Hiking in St. George during the winter is one of my favorite pastimes; not because I avoid sweating profusely within five minutes of starting a hike, but because one of my favorite trails in Snow Canyon Park is open for the season.

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