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Hiking GuidesSouthern UtahUtah

Hiking Guide: Little Wild Horse Canyon Loop

Arrow and Sadie: Blue and red heelers in Little Wildhorse Canyon

Overview

If you’re looking for a quintessential Utah slot canyon experience but you don’t want to involve ropes, harnesses, and sketchy rappels, then Little Wild Horse Canyon is the hike for you.

It still offers plenty of adventure in the form of fun rock scrambles and imposing narrows, with knee to waist-deep pools to wade through.

This is a great hike for the whole family, including kids and Fido, as long as there isn’t rain in the forecast. The canyon is prone to flash floods and you DO NOT want to be anywhere near these drainages when that happens.

Kim and Arrow in Little Wild Horse Canyon
Kim and Arrow in Little Wild Horse Canyon

Quick Facts

  • Distance: 8-mile loop
  • Hike Time: 4-5 hours
  • Elevation Gain/Loss: 700 feet
  • Fee: Free
  • Dogs: Yes
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Hiking the Bell Canyon to Little Wildhorse Canyon Loop

In September 2014, Kim, Mike, Teala, and our dogs Arrow and Sadie hiked the 8-mile loop up Bell Canyon, around the Behind the Reef dirt road, and down Little Wild Horse Canyon.

Mike and Teala wade through a muddy pool in Little Wild Horse Canyon
Mike and Teala wade through a muddy pool in Little Wild Horse Canyon

From the trailhead, the approach is 0.6 miles to the entrances of both Bell Canyon and Little Wild Horse Canyon.

If don’t have enough time, bear right to complete a 3-mile out-and-back up then down Little Wild Horse. For the full loop, bear left to continue 1.8 miles up Bell Canyon.

Max (the author) carries a tired 4-month-old Arrow
Max (the author) carries a tired 4-month-old Arrow

Once you exit the top of the canyon, bear right onto Behind the Reef Trail, a jeep trail managed by the BLM. Continue for 1.5 miles, then bear right to enter the top of Little Wild Horse Canyon. From here, you are 3.6 miles from the trailhead where you started.

An old, lonely cabin once owned by a mining prospector, next to Behind the Reef Trail
An old, lonely cabin once owned by a mining prospector, next to Behind the Reef Trail

Map

Location

From Utah State Route 24, take Temple Mountain Road and follow signs for Goblin Valley State Park. Turn left onto Goblin Valley Road then instead of continuing to Goblin Valley, turn right onto Wild Horse Road. Follow it for 5.4 miles then park in the lot on the right.

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