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Bear Trap Falls

Bear Trap Falls is a beautiful, seldom-visited attraction in the Kolob Canyons area of Zion National Park. The 17-mile round trip hike to Bear Trap Falls can be completed as a very long day hike or as an overnight backpacking trip utilizing one of thirteen designated campsites along the La Verkin Creek Trail. Permits are required for overnight use.

Due to the length and strenuous nature of this hike, it is only recommended for adults in good physical condition.

Trailhead

The La Verkin Creek trail begins at the Lee Pass Trailhead (37.451282,-113.191603) located on Kolob Canyon Road.

  1. Follow Interstate 15 to Exit 40 for Kolob Canyons, approximately 18 miles south of Cedar City, Utah.
  2. Turn east onto Kolob Canyon Road and drive 3.9 miles to the parking area at Lee Pass.

There are no facilities at the Lee Pass Trailhead but restrooms and information are available at the Kolob Canyons Visitor Center shortly after exiting from I-15.

The Hike

From the Lee Pass Trailhead, walk north along the road for about 100 yards to the start of the La Verkin Creek Trail. Over the next 4.5 miles, the trail descends nearly 1,000 feet as it follows Timber Creek south, crossing the stream a few times before ascending a ridge to access La Verkin Creek. Take note of this large change as it can make the hike out particularly difficult.

The character of this area of Zion National Park is quite different than that the more popular areas in Zion Canyon. The trails receive significantly less traffic and offer a great wilderness experience. The forests are rich with wildlife and the soaring cliffs of the Kolob Finger Canyons loom thousands of feet overhead, providing amazing scale to the landscape. Expect to see a variety of birds, lizards, squirrels, and perhaps even a wild turkey or mule deer.

Once at La Verkin Creek, the trail turns east and follows the river for two miles before arriving at a signed junction for Kolob Arch. The short spur trail to Kolob Arch is worth a visit. This well-concealed arch sits high on the canyon wall and is considered by many to be the second longest natural arch in the world.

Not far past the junction to Kolob Arch, the trail comes to a point where crossing La Verkin creek is required. Depending on the flow, it may be necessary to get your feet wet on this, the first of several mandatory river crossings before arriving at Bear Trap Canyon.

Once across the creek, the trail climbs a short distance before the junction for Hop Valley appears on the right. This trail leads south to the Kolob Terrace area of Zion, eventually connecting to the West Rim and East Rim Trails. Combining all of these trails by hiking the 47 miles from Lee Pass to the east entrance of Zion is popular with long-distance backpackers and is commonly known as the Trans-Zion Trek.

Beyond the Hop Valley junction, the La Verkin Creek trail receives considerably less traffic and the forest thickens as you gain altitude. Many river crossing are required along this section of the trail. As you hike up canyon, pay attention to the designated campsites along the way. Bear Trap Canyon is located shortly upstream from campsite 13 on the right side of La Verkin Creek (37.43165,-113.126838). The vegetation is thick in this area making it easy to miss the confluence if you aren’t paying attention.

Once at mouth of Bear Trap canyon, continue up the narrow canyon for about a quarter mile to reach the falls. This short section of the Bear Trap Canyon is incredibly beautiful so take your time. Cliffs prevent travel beyond Bear Trap Falls.

Round trip distance from Lee Pass Trailhead to Bear Trap Falls is approximately 17 miles.

NOTE: For those backpacking, the La Verkin Creek Trail offers 13 designated campsites to choose from. All of them are quite nice and most are located within close proximity to water sources. Check the Zion National Park website for detailed information and photos of each campsite and to make a reservation.

Rules and Regulations

  • Camping is only allowed in designated campsites and requires a permit issued by Zion National Park. You can reserve campsites up to 3 months in advance via the online Zion Wilderness Reservation System. Photos and descriptions of each campsite are available on Zion National Park’s website.
  • Visitors must pay an entrance fee to enter Zion National Park. The fee is $25 for a private vehicle with up to 15 passengers. You may purchase an annual pass for $80, which is accepted at all National Parks and many other federal lands.
  • No pets allowed.
  • Do not litter.
  • Pack out all trash.
  • The use of human waste disposal bags is recommended, and you must pack toilet paper out.

Special Considerations

This hike requires multiple stream crossings. Use good judgment and do not attempt to cross when water flows are too high to do so safely. The potential for flash floods during inclement weather is high. Check with the Kolob Canyon Visitor Center for current conditions before starting the hike.

Credits

This trail guide provided by Backcountry Post.