|Taylor Creek—North Fork
Length: 6.25 miles roundtrip
Trail Map: Zion National Park Trails Illustrated - Buy
Description: Between Tucupit Point and Horse Ranch Mountain among the Kolob Canyon Fingers, the North Fork of Taylor Creek offers a great, medium-length hike that is not too strenuous, but allows a beautiful sampling of the Kolob Canyon country. The North Fork Canyon is wider and shorter, and the hike is one mile longer than the Middle Fork route, but the North Fork offers a fun hike with a much smaller chance of running into other visitors. Up in Kolob Canyon country, there are not so many visitors anyway. Most of the crowds are down in Zion Canyon, leaving the northwest section of the park much quieter. But if you really want to get away from civilization, the North Fork is for you. Over the course of the hike, visitors will gain about 900 feet in elevation, though it is gradual and not too difficult.
The North Fork has little in the way of a well-groomed trail, and for much of the hike visitors will find themselves picking their way among rocks, sandy riverbeds, and pushing past scraggly bushes—with red, iron-oxide-tinted walls rising on both sides of them, at times over 2,000 feet above them. There is water in the creek bed year-round, though there are plenty of places to cross without getting wet. The walls of the canyon are slowly caving in throughout the millennia, creating many landslides—and in some areas creating proto-arches, or what in architectural terms would be called a blind arch.
Taylor Creek Trailhead
The Taylor Creek Trailhead is located on the Kolob Canyons Road, 2.12 miles off of I-15, past the Kolob Canyon Visitor’s Center. There is a parking lot situated there off to the left side of the road. The trail begins just to the north of the parking lot and then swings east as it falls into the Taylor Creek wash.
The lower portion of this hike follows the Middle Fork Trail, and it heads into the Middle Fork Canyon. Hikers intending to visit the North Fork will have to locate the confluence of the North and Middle Forks of Taylor Creek, which lies 1.25 miles east of the parking lot. There is a historic building near the confluence, the Larsen Cabin, built in 1929, just off to the left of the trail. The Middle Fork Trail is arguably the most popular hike in the Kolob Canyon area.
(Larsen Cabin) North Fork
The cabin marks the spot where the North Fork empties into the Middle Fork of Taylor Creek. When visitors see the cabin, it is time to start north, following the trickle of the North Fork as it comes down from the north and east in between Horse Ranch Mountain and Tucupit Point. The cabin was owned by Gustav Larsen until 1933. Horse Ranch Mountain is the highest point in Zion National Park.
Arch (Pico Rosado)
There is a large proto-arch on the north wall about 1.2 miles into the canyon. Observant visitors will notice that there is a small, but authentic arch freestanding above and to the right, just around the corner of the blind arch. The real arch has been unofficially named Pico Rosado by Bo Beck and Tanya Milligan, two Zion back-country connoisseurs.
Head of the North Fork
The trail continues up the canyon for a way, but grows gradually steeper, rockier, and more dangerous. There are numerous bouldering opportunities within the canyon. When done exploring, hikers turn and leave the same way the came in. Beyond the head of the canyon is the Lower Basin Road, Bear Canyon, and the plateau that connects Horse Ranch Mountain to the rest of the fingers.