At the end of our trip to Moab, we made a stop by Zion for just a couple of days to decompress. Instead of going into the park, where we have explored around in the past, we headed up Kolob Terrace Road, just outside the park. This is a beautiful forested area that is away from the crowds. Several years ago, I ran through the Zion backcountry and passed right through this area; it brought back some good memories…
June 27-29, 2021
The views along the road give the impression that something different awaits for the person curious enough to explore off the beaten path — and that is in fact the case! There are a handful of trailheads accessible from the road. Some are actually within the park, others are outside of the park boundary, but lead into the park eventually. The road continues winding upward into beautiful forested areas with grassy meadows and aspen groves sprawling out before the pink and orange rock formations.
Hop Valley is where the change in scenery starts to become noticeable. The Trans Zion route runs right through here. I retraced maybe a quarter mile of it and was transported back to that run — one of my favorite day long backcountry efforts of all time. I keep thinking a Trans Zion redux is in order. Maybe it’s time to stop thinking about it…
We continued higher up to a trailhead that would take us through the pine forest to Lava Point, which is perched above Wildcat Canyon, another area I ran through on that fabulous day. The scenery was great and the weather was cooler than in the valley by a noticeable margin. We shared the trail with a few climbers, otherwise it was quiet in complete contrast to the theme park-like scene at the entrance of the National Park.
As we were walking along, Matteo spotted a horny toad — a super rare sight! We later talked to a few locals and when we mentioned that they each said that the horny toads used to be common, but aren’t seen so often these days. It was the first and only one I have ever seen in the wild.
There were other critters around too, including some photogenic squirrels…
And kiddos looking cute 🙂
The next evening, we hiked out on the Canyon Overlook trail. It was short and a little sketchy! There are some abrupt and steep drop offs into the slot canyon below. Explaining to your kids “hey, it’s dark so stop running or you might trip and fall to your death down there” is not a way to relax! After watching the sunset from the overlook, we went out for some stargazing and were treated to bats! There were quite a few around our hotel too, picking off insects by the lights. That was a neat show and we learned a few things about bats in the process. The trip was just long enough to get outside a little, enjoy some food and icecream, and pick up a few keepsakes.
I also chatted with the local bike shop in Springdale and have some ideas for places to ride on a future trip. Now that having fun on the mountain bike competes with running, it’s even harder to pick and choose destinations and modes of travel, but it ‘s a good problem to have. Until next time, Zion! -JD