For the first time since Bird came into our lives, Will and I were able to go on a hike just the 2 of us when his parents came for a visit in Utah. Will had explored some of the trails in Snow Canyon, but he had not gotten out nearly as much as I had (thanks to my morning outings), so it was even more fun getting to explore this new-to-both-of-us trail together.
The trailhead for the Johnson Canyon trail is actually located just outside the gate to the park. There are a few trails that leave from this parking lot, and while we had good intentions to get back and hike the others, this is the only 1 we ended up hiking during our stay.
The trail is about 2 miles round trip with very minimal elevation change and is known to be prime habitat for the protected desert tortoise. Because of this, it is only open part of the year, and we were lucky enough to be there when it was open (it is closed from mid-March to mid-September). We knew this was probably our best bet at seeing a tortoise, but unfortunately, we did not encounter any on our hike (the only tortoise we ended up seeing during our stay was 1 that had been hit by a car, which was incredibly sad).
The hike starts out going around the edge of 1 of the mountains that make up the southern end of the park. We walked between a rock wall to the left and a canyon with lava tubes to the right. It was absolutely beautiful.
Once we reached the backside of the mountain, we entered Johnson Canyon. It is a truly unique feature in the park because it is home to 1 of the few water sources in the area. It was the only place in the park where we saw native trees and heard flowing water. It is no wonder that it is where people see the most wildlife.
We encountered a couple of groups of hikers, mostly moms with their kids, but for the most part, we had the trail to ourselves. It was so special for us to have this time together to hike at our own pace (not Daisy’s) and to have our own conversation without Will carrying Bird and me doling out snacks. While hiking with the girls is so much fun, hiking without them is, too.
The Johnson Arch is located along the top of the canyon walls about halfway into the canyon. I believe it is the only arch within the park, and while the trail does not get close to it, it is certainly a neat feature.
However, the true beauty of the hike comes after the arch when the trail dead ends at the base of the sheer rock walls of the canyon. It was truly spectacular. When we made it to this point, we had the place to ourselves to soak in the beauty and explore. Because we were there in the morning, the canyon was shaded and just perfect. I could have stayed there all day enjoying the feeling of the walls towering above us.
Even though this hike was quite easy, we thoroughly enjoyed seeing trees and greenery that we did not see anywhere else in the park. And having the morning to ourselves, just the 2 of us, to explore a new trail was so special.