Cottenwood Narrows South Trailhead Loop via Cottonwood Canyon Road and Cottonwood Narrows
This is a easy trail to in the Cottonwood Creek Narrows. You reach the Cottenwood Narrows North Trailhead and can park there or at the Cottenwood Narrows South Trailhead. It's located in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
The highlights are two: 1) the wider canyon between the two trailheads and 2) the slot canyon which extends north of the North Trailhead. It's basically an in-and-out trail from whichever trailhead. There is little to limited climbing needed. There is a large drop about 500 yards in from the South Trailhead, but there is a path on the right as you enter that allows you to bypass the rocks.
Not wanting to walk the road in the desert heat, we started at the North Trailhead, did the slots for 1.2 miles, and then went south past our entry point and forward onto the south trailhead before retracing our steps back to the North Trailhead for a total of 6 miles hiking. The slots are wonderful and vertical and shady with a couple of 4 to 6 foot scrambles. Once we turned around and passed south of the exit back to the North Trailhead parking, the canyon opened a bit and the walk was simple and straightforward and it was no big deal to make our way to the south trailhead except for the big drop previously mentioned that can be bypassed. We reversed our route and returned to the North Trailhead for a total distance of 6 miles.
There's side canyon that we missed about to miles from the South Trailhead on the west side that we missed, darnit. Guess I gotta go back.
Note: don't do this after recent rain as there are parts of the trail that could become impassable.
From the point where the road turns north into Kodachrome State Park (a worthy stop in itself), the pavement ends and the gravel continues south for about 13 miles on 2wd capable road. You pass the turnoff to Grovesner Arch, and it's worth going to see, but add an hour to your day. After a total of 13 miles from the Kodachrome turn off, you reach the North Cottonwood entrance and parking (Marked). The parking area is about 100 yards south of the trail entrance, and the tubular trail signs lead you to a quick drop to the trail which climbs through a wall into the slot canyon.
This would be terrific hike for the kids, and we saw a family. I'd tend to recommend going in the North entrance and hiking north from there. The slots are deeper, darker and more fun. We hiked about 1.5 miles north and then turned around when it seemed like there were no more slots, though the track as shown goes right back up to the road far north of either the North or South trailheads.
Sights to See
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