Our troop’s October tradition for the past few years has been to visit Goblin Valley for some very, very easy slot canyon hiking. The boys look forward to it every year and the terrain is unlike any other hiking they get to experience. We leave on a Friday night after work, arrive and set up camp in the dark, then go for a quick “midnight hike” with headlamps and flashlights. Then we do the whole loop the next day, which isn’t really 10 miles, but in my opinion, it’s close enough and balances out the hikes we’ve done for the Hiking MB that were well over 10.
The first ½ mile follows the riverbed to the entrance of this pair of slots. Not far after you enter into this canyon, you will see where the trail splits. The 3.6 miles of Little Wild Horse Canyon is definitely the highlight of this route with its narrow passages, twisty paths and freaky hollows along the walls. One section even looks like the rib cage of a whale as you walk through it. At the end of LWH, you exit the canyon and come out into the open again. This is where you connect up with an old rocky Jeep road, the least favorite part of this route. However 1.6 miles later and you enter Bell Canyon that gets interesting for 1.8 miles of more slot canyon fun. When you reach the trail split that you found earlier in the day, you will return on that ½ mile through the riverbed again back to your car for a total of 8 miles.
The lesson we’ve learned from this annual trip is: BE PREPARED TO GET WET. The first year we visited, the slots were as dry as a bone. The very next year, same month same weekend, we found knee-deep water in sections. We didn’t remember hearing about rain in the area the second time around, but I guess we didn’t watch the forecast close enough. Either way, both trips offered experiences those boys should never forget! …just come prepared to get wet and you’ll be fine even if you don’t.
There’s not much to see in elevation gain here, so I’ll skip adding that this time. However, this is the BLM map you will find at the Little Wild Horse trailhead if there are any left to pick up.
And as with the other scout hike reports, I’m providing a Google Earth file of this route with waypoints to help you navigate these super-cool kid-friendly slot canyons. If you’re looking for a more challenging slot experience, check out Ding and Dang Canyons.