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Beautiful slot canyons located just west of Goblin Valley State Park.


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Map Key

8.2

Miles

13.3

KM

94%

Runnable

5,670' 1,728 m

High

4,956' 1,511 m

Low

868' 265 m

Up

868' 265 m

Down

4%

Avg Grade (2°)

19%

Max Grade (10°)

Dogs Off-leash

Features River/Creek · Views

Overview

Little Wildhorse is a classic slot canyon located in south-central Utah near Goblin Valley. It is a popular spot for families and youth groups. The main attraction is a long stretch of "narrows" where the canyon walls are so close you have to turn sideways to get through. The rock walls are sculpted and very beautiful.

There are two popular approaches here. Some people simply go into Little Wildhorse (the trail to the right at the initial fork), hike as far as they feel comfortable and then return the way they came in. The second option is to make a loop by heading up Bell Canyon and then crossing over and descending into Little Wild Horse Canyon.

If going with a dog, or small children, there are several large drops or climbs in Little Wild Horse Canyon. Bell has a few as well, but not as high. A dog might need the aid of a basic harness to lift up and down. It's best to do this loop in a clockwise direction with dogs so you descend into Little Wild Horse instead of climbing out of it. Or just leave Bowser home for this one--this is Bighorn sheep territory, and dog smell doesn't help them at all.

Little Wild Horse Canyon (right at initial fork) has some amazing and tight slot canyon passages to walk through. You'll be in awe as you walk through it. If a loop is too much to handle, I suggest at least going through Little Wild Horse Canyon until you meet the first climb and then turn around.

Need to Know

This is a desert run and, as such, has very little shade. Temperatures in summer can become extremely hot, but pools of water in the canyon are very cold. They are also usually stagnant and brown, so bring all the water you'll need for the day. this 8-mile loop takes most folks 3-5 hours.

There are several large drops or climbs depending on which direction you are coming from in Bell canyon. Little Wild Horse canyon has some obstacles as well, but not as bad. There are no sections that you'll need to rope up for. However, dogs may need extra help and a pup harness could come in handy.

The trailhead has an outhouse and kiosk with info, map of the trail, and paper maps available if not all out. Parking for about 2 dozen cars packed tight and fills up fast! Get here early if possible.

Description

To reach the trailhead, drive Hwy 95 south toward Hanksville and then turn west onto the Goblin Valley Road. Swing south as you approach Temple Mountain. At the turn for Goblin Valley State Park continue straight and follow the paved road to the signed trailhead. Vault toilets are available at the trailhead.

Starting from the trailhead, head up the wide dry river bed to the mouth of the canyon (about 0.5 miles). You'll see the canyon dip down a bit and rock walls on both sides with a rock in the middle of the passage; it seems impassable, but it can be scrambled up. You can either scramble up and over or take the path to the left, up along the top of the canyon (about 5-10 feet at this point) and then scramble back down after the initial boulder section is cleared. Once past the first obstacle look for a sign indicating Bell to the left and Little Wildhorse to the right.

You can go either right (Little Wild Horse Canyon) or left (Bell Canyon). Most people doing the loop go clockwise and start by going left into Bells Canyon and come out of Little Wild Horse Canyon, ending with some tight, but beautiful winding passages that will leave you in awe.

For about 2.5 miles, follow Bell Canyon. There is only one way to go once you're in the canyon, and you really can't get lost since there will be walls, sometimes hundreds of feet high on either side of you. As you make your way through Bell Canyon, you'll encounter some short rock scrambles up, nothing too high, at most 10-15 ft. at the highest. Little kids and older adults will do fine. Dogs will need assistance (or leave them home). Stagnant pools of cold brown water may be present in a few spots, but it is mainly a dry canyon.

Follow the canyon all the way to the end where it opens up onto a dirt road. This is Behind The Reef 4x4 road. Continue northward on the road and take it uphill. If the high cliff walls are on your right, with the huge canyon drop offs to your left, you're going the right way!

Hike 1.5 miles along the wide and open road to a sign for Little Wild Horse Canyon to the right. It will be a dry stream bed to the right veering off the main 4x4 road. Continue down this wash on a social trail, and it will lead into the main wash of Little Wild Horse.

Little Wild Horse Canyon narrows pretty quickly as well, but the true narrows last about a mile at most. The toughest obstacle is the first one, a pour-off about 10' high, and you can scramble down next to it on either side (Class 4 on the left and Class 3 on the right, facing down-canyon), or you can notice that a ramp on the right side leads easily to the canyon floor. This is the trickiest obstacle for a dog and where a harness comes in handy.

Other obstacles are no harder than Class 3. Follow the canyon for 3 more small drops, with the last one being about 6' high into a small pool of water. You can avoid the water if you're careful and use the log and stone bridge. Towards the end, you'll enter the narrow passage way that winds through Little Wild Horse Canyon back to the confluence. This is probably where you'll wanna break out the camera for some photos.

Back at the confluence, hike 0.5 mi back to the trailhead, the way you came.

Contacts

Shared By:

Climbing Around with improvements by Bob Palin and 1 other

Trail Ratings

  4.9 from 32 votes

#287

Overall
  4.9 from 32 votes
5 Star
94%
4 Star
6%
3 Star
0%
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0%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#31

in Utah

#287

Overall
23 Views Last Month
13,162 Since Dec 7, 2015
Intermediate/Difficult Intermediate/Difficult

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Photos

Narrow passages.
Dec 7, 2015 near Ferron, UT
Interesting canyon walls eroded by water.
Dec 7, 2015 near Ferron, UT
Red soil as Bell Canyon enters Sinbad Country
Jan 27, 2019 near Ferron, UT
One of the prettiest sections in Wild Horse Canyon. You can clearly see a wave pattern on the rocks
Jan 27, 2019 near Ferron, UT
San Rafael Reef from Behind-the-Reef Road
Jan 27, 2019 near Ferron, UT
Cool canyon walls.
Dec 7, 2015 near Ferron, UT

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Mar 27, 2019
Brian Medina
8.7mi
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