Bryce Canyon Mossy Cave Trail

Overview: A short stroll into the reddish pinnacles of Bryce Canyon from UT 12 that ends at a mossy, seeping cave, offering a smaller-scale sampler of Bryce grandeur for travelers unable to travel into the main area of the park.

Distance: 0.8 mile out and back

Hiking time: About 0.25 hour

Best season: April–October

Difficulty: Easy

Hazards: Slippery stream crossings

Topo maps: USGS Tropic Canyon; Trails Illustrated Bryce Canyon National Park

Finding the trailhead: Drive UT 12 east from the junction with UT 63 to a marked pulloff on the south side of the road, 1.2 miles west of the park’s east entrance.

Trailhead GPS: 37.665747, -112.110227

This trail offers a short stroll into the reddish pinnacles of Bryce Canyon from UT 12, offering a smaller-scale sampler of the grandeur to the south for travelers who do not wish to make the side trip into the main part of the park. The stream flows found here are not natural; pioneering settlers diverted water from the Sevier River into Water Canyon via a series of canals to feed croplands around Tropic.

The trail begins by following Water Canyon up into the breaks, with a wall of impressive pinnacles rising to the west. Soon the path reaches the first of two stream crossings. The crossings are usually easy rock-hops, but they can be tricky during spring runoff. Near the upper crossing look up to view the natural arches and window walls in the cliffs to the west. Once the second crossing is made, a short climb leads to a T-intersection. To the right a short stroll leads to a 10-foot waterfall. To the left a brief but steep climb leads to Mossy Cave itself. This spacious alcove has been chiseled out by groundwater seeping through weaknesses in the bedrock.

In winter the seeps feed impressive icicle gardens, while in summer the water provides sustenance for a vivid growth of mosses.