We have an embarrassment of hiking riches here in St. George. It really is ridiculous, the things you can see and visit in a very short time. Today was a perfect example of this. After picking up my eldest daughter from school, we swung by the Johnson Canyon trail. This short (1.85 miles round trip) trail is perfect for kids or when pressed for time, and today it was just the right thing for our family.
Just outside of Snow Canyon State Park (and the fee area), the trail heads east through a substantial lava flow. The trail winds through the black outcrops of rock and sagebrush with little elevation gain. It eventually passes by a deep wash lined with Cottonwood and Willow before winding around the western toe of the canyon.
One nice surprise of this trail is the spring that trickles down at the bottom of the wash. In a notoriously dry area, it is delightful to hear and see (barely) running water. That might be the one thing I really miss (besides friends and family) about the Northwest: the sound and sight of flowing water. Sure, there is the Virgin river and there are some nice streams up in the mountains, but nothing on the scale of the rivers I am used to.
After entering the small canyon, Johnson Arch is reached after a quarter mile or so. A big, hulking arch with a 200′ span, it is almost a shock to see one that big — and it is in city limits too! How many towns can boast about that? Not many.
The trail continues on for a few hundred more yards and terminates in a glorious box canyon with sheer, 300′ walls. This is actually my favorite part of the canyon. Its a great place to test out your echo skills. I find it very peaceful in there, and could just sit and meditate there for a long, long time.
We headed back to the car, stopping at a big rock to practice our bouldering skills and talk to a nice older couple we had seen on the trail. The whole hike, car to car, took less than an hour, and was a perfect way to top off a full day.