Everything You Need to Know About The Kanarra Falls Trail

I’ve had the fortune of not just hiking the Kanarra Falls trail, but also having it entirely to myself when I did and in this post, what I want to do is prepare you for the hike by sharing everything you need to know before you go.

Quick info on the Kanarra Falls trail:

kanarra falls trail hike

  • Name: Kanarra Falls.
  • Location: Kanarraville, Utah.
  • Hiking distance: 4 miles in and out (1.5 to reach the ladder part).
  • Difficulty: Moderate.
  • Family friendly hike? Yes.
  • Is it dangerous? It’s slippery in parts but mostly OK.
  • Permit required? Yes (instructions coming up).
  • Recommended? Yes!

The way I’m going to structure this post is by first giving you some preparation basics (what to know before you go basically) and then I’ll run you through a little tour of the actual hike so you know what to expect when you go.

5 things to know about the hike to Kanarra Falls (before you go):

1) A permit is required and you have 2 options for that:

You can get it for $12 per person online on the official Kanarra Falls site here or you can “risk” getting it at the start of the trail when you go. The risk with the second one is that most times of the year, the hike is open to only about 100+ people a day and if you get there and slots are filled up, you’re out of luck. On the other hand, getting it online will ensure you have a spot.

Now one thing to note is that in my case, when I went, I did get my permit online but when I showed up (which was in late January), there was no one working at the permit station, so I just had to go as it was (keep this in mind).

2) You will get wet, especially as the hike progresses:

The first mile of the hike involves walking along Kanarra Creek and you will be able to avoid getting wet if you want in most parts. But as the hike goes into a slot canyon, and towards the waterfalls, you have to walk through water to get to them.

3) Wear decent hiking shoes and/or water shoes:

There will be parts of this hike where stepping into water is unavoidable and depending on the season, the depth of the water also varies and at times, it can be knee high. Either way, I would recommend good hiking shoes for the hike itself, but for the water parts, I would recommend decent water shoes.

I went through this hike wearing Salomon Speedcross 5 shoes and they worked well for the most part. When I got into the slot canyon and started getting wet, stepping on wet rocks was often slippery for me and the only reason I didn’t fall was because I had decent balance that was aided by using my Trailbuddy trekking poles. Wearing decent water shoes like the Body Glove Rip Tide ones would have definitely helped me here though and they are cheap, but will come in handy in these parts.

4) There are 2 waterfalls on this hike:

The first one is the famous one with the ladder you probably see pictures of (It’s about 2 miles from the start of the hike), and the second one is about a third of a mile further up the hike. Then you go back down all the way to the parking lot.

5) It’s tough to avoid the crowds, but in my case, here’s why I had it all to myself:

wearing waterproof socks on the kanarra falls hike 05

I went here at the end of January when it was literally freezing cold and much of the hike had snow and ice to cross.

I’m not recommending people do that if they’re uncomfortable about the thought, but believe me, few people will do this hike during that period and for me, that makes it totally worth doing.

If you do decide to come here in the winter, just know the risks and dangers are increased because you will stepping in ice cold water, risking hypothermia.

One way to avoid that problem is to wear the following gear:

1) First reliable waterproof socks, which is what I did (the Randy Sun Waterproof socks specifically). The ones I wore on this hike reached knee high and kept me dry the entire hike.

2) A good winter jacket. My go to choice is the REI Stormhenge 850 Down Jacket.

In fact, here is a video of me walking through this hike in the water wearing these socks:

Get the same waterproof socks here.

Moving onto the Kanarra Falls hike itself (what to expect):

1) First you’ll park your car and walk up to the ticket booth:

Here you will either present your reservation to the person working there, or fill out a form and put it in the mailbox. In my case, no one was there and even though I paid online, I wasn’t even able to show it to anyone.

2) Then you’ll walk uphill for a bit on a dirt road that turns right:

As you turn right, you will see a fence with tanks behind it and the path will continue. You will soon see Kanarra Creek itself and continue following it.

3) The trail along Kanarra Creek will zigzag left to right as you continue:

entering kanarra creek slot canyon 03

On some points of the hike, I was wondering if the path was going in a different direction but the basic idea is to follow the main path that parallels along the Kanarra Creek.

4) Eventually you will come towards a canyon (one of two):

The canyon is not a slot canyon just yet but you will continue walking upriver, following the path before you.

5) You will eventually reach a slot canyon (this is the entrance to Kanarra Falls):

From the slot canyon, you will have to get wet here (no other choice). In my case, I had to break through the ice to get into the water. But it will turn into a slot canyon that’s about 5-6 feet wide (and large canyon walls).

The waterfall is only about 50 feet away from the entrance here.

6) Once you reach Kanarra Falls, you have the option to climb the stairs:

kanarra creek steps part of the hike 07

The stairs can be slippery so be careful here, but it’s a short walk and afterwards you can get a nice look at the canyon from a top.

The picture you see here was taken by me and obviously, it isn’t as pretty as some of the ones you see on this spot, but that’s because my phone doesn’t take good low light photos.

In any case, as you can see the ladder here was metallic and not the wooden one you see in most photos. It might change in the future, but just expect this for now if you go.

7) You can continue follow Kanarra Creek upstream and as you do, about 1/3 of a mile up is when you will hit the next waterfall.

I personally didn’t go that far because I was tired of walking through all the ice that day so I decided to turn back, but many people just come here for the ladder part of the hike and then turn around too. Just know you can go further if you want.

From here you can turn around and head back the same way to the parking lot to finish the hike.

Other great nature spots to check out near Kanarra Creek Falls:

1) Zion National Park:

It’s only about 30 minutes away from this place and there is much more to see and do there. There are 2 hikes there which bear some resemblance to Kanarra Falls and they are:

  • The Narrows. No permit needed here but it is a long hike in the water.
  • The Subway. It’s a long hike and has a slot canyon that I would say is better looking than Kanarra Falls, but it does require a permit.

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