My Longest Solo Hike, 5 Miles through Snow Canyon State Park, Utah

With all the hiking I did in Snow Canyon, I feel like I finally found my confidence in who I am as a hiker. I have loved hiking for some time but was always hesitant to go out for any distance on my own. However, toward the end of our stay in Snow Canyon, there were several trails I was compelled to explore. While it would have been amazing to hike these trails as a family, it also really felt like something that I needed to do on my own. That and it was about the only way we could make it work logistically.

The day that I ended up going on the hike was a Saturday, which was unfortunate in that the park is truly 1 of the busiest state parks I have ever seen, especially on the weekends. Like it is difficult to find parking at any trailhead in the park kind of busy.

When Will finished up his camp hosting duties for the day, Bird and I picked him up, and they dropped me off at the White Rocks trailhead just north of the park’s northern entrance. Reiterating the kind of traffic this park sees, there was not a parking spot to be found at the trailhead, and I more or less jumped out of the truck with all my things so Will could back the truck out of the parking lot.

Thankfully, I did not encounter nearly as many people as the parking lot suggested I might, and thankfully, Will did not leave without insisting that I take his water bottle in addition to my own. Even though it was only in the mid-70s, the sun was intense, the air was dry, and there was very little shade.

I started down the White Rocks trail toward the White Rocks Amphitheater. As I approached the amphitheater, I could hear all sorts of excitement going on ahead of me. When I first saw the people dressed in Star Wars costumes having lightsaber fights in the bowl of the amphitheater, I reasoned that it was the weekend before Halloween and maybe it was some sort of photo shoot. However, as more of the scene came into view, there were tents set up and people with cameras and intermittent shouts of “cut!”

I made into the amphitheater at the same time as another couple, and we literally hiked onto a movie set. The crew coincidentally called a break, and I found myself chatting with one of the crew members. I am not a die-hard Star Wars fan, but I am sure that the plot of their feature length fan-film is going to really rock the Star Wars fandom.

To say I was not prepared for that encounter is a complete understatement, and it gave me a lot to chuckle about as I made my way back to the main White Rocks trail.

Throughout our stay, I had spent many mornings looking at the white rocks that make up the northern end of the park. As the trail name promised, it took me right to the base of the mountain and into the rocks, leading me to some of the most beautiful views of the park I had seen.

The really tricky thing about the trails in Snow Canyon is that they are not particularly easy to walk on. They are either deep sand, chunks of lava, or an awkward and uncomfortable mix of the 2. Aside from 2 short portions of my hike that were on paved trails, the duration of the hike was on less than stable or solid ground.

Once I made my way around the base of the white rocks, the trail turns south toward the heart of the park. The White Rocks trail eventually meets up with the Lava Flow trail, which meanders between 3 lava flows. I had previously explored part of this trail on 1 of my morning walks, but it was so much fun to hike the entirety of the trail, seeing all of the lava flows.

After the third lava flow, the trail turns steeply downhill toward West Canyon trail. West Canyon is 1 of the 2 paved trails and is popular with bicyclists. It also blissfully offered the most shade, which I took full advantage of, stopping for a snack and water break.

From the paved trail, I turned onto Red Sands trail and ended up on the 2nd paved trail, Whiptail, both of which I had explored almost entirely during my morning hikes. Whiptail led back to the camper, rounding out a solid 5 miles.

I spent so much of this hike reflecting on our time in Snow Canyon and where the road might be taking us. Actually living in a state park was such a unique experience, and although we were not really fond of the surrounding area, saying goodbye to the park was incredibly hard.

In our month at Snow Canyon, I hiked close to 40 miles, most of them alone. This solo hike that took me through so much of the park helped me to realize just how far I have come as a hiker and how confident I am in my abilities to plan and execute a hike. Even when I found myself scrambling up rocks or taking steps that felt a little shaky, I consciously slowed, took a deep breath, and moved 1 foot in front of the other, knowing there was not a single part of this hike that I could not tackle.

As I made my way down the final stretch toward the camper, I drank the last drop of water I had and felt incredibly empowered and confident in my hiking abilities. With this hike under my belt, I officially hiked on all of the trails within the boundaries of the park and felt a connection with the park that I have not felt with any other place we have visited. While I am not sure if the road will ever take us back to Snow Canyon, the park certainly left its mark on us and helped me find peace and confidence on the trails.

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