Overview: A long day hike or short overnight backpack up La Verkin Creek to Kolob Arch, one of the largest freestanding arches in the world.
Distance: 14 miles (22.5 km) round trip
Hiking time: About 8 hours
Best season: March–November
Difficulty: Moderately strenuous primarily due to length
Hazards: Bring extra water due to length
Topo maps: Kolob Arch; Trails Illustrated Zion National Park
Backpacking information: A special permit system is in effect for camping along La Verkin Creek, and designated campsites will be assigned. Permits can be obtained at the Kolob Canyons Visitor Center. Water is available in La Verkin Creek but must be treated.
Finding the trailhead: Follow I-15 northward and exit at the Kolob Canyons turnoff. Follow the road past the visitor center for 3.5 miles to the Lee Pass trailhead.
Trailhead GPS: 37.451281, -113.191604
The trail to Kolob Arch begins in the arid foothills, soon descending a finger ridge into the Timber Creek valley. A scrub forest of piñon pine and juniper allows frequent views of the towers that guard the western rim of the Kolob Terrace.
At the bottom of the grade, the trail strikes the wash of Timber Creek and follows it through riparian meadows studded with old cottonwoods and box elders. Excellent views of the spires appear to the east, and numerous side canyons wind westward from the pinnacles, inviting further exploration. The path ultimately rounds the foot of Shuntavi Butte and ascends through arid scrubland to a low saddle. Here, incredible views open up to the east and south. The trail now begins a substantial descent to reach the floor of the La Verkin Creek valley. “La Verkin” is a corruption of the Spanish La Virgen, a mistaken reference to the Virgin River. The trail bottoms out near the remains of an old corral built by Mormon pioneers. The trail now follows the north bank of La Verkin Creek into the mountains.
Ponderosa pine becomes prevalent as the trail approaches a junction with the Kolob Arch spur trail. This short trail includes some scrambling as it follows a side canyon northward from La Verkin Creek 0.5 mile to a viewpoint below Kolob Arch. This amazing, freestanding arc of stone measures more than 330 feet in width and is among the largest natural arches in the world.
Hike information adapted from Hiking Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks (FalconGuides), which includes complete mile-by-mile hike descriptions and maps.