Free activities Hikes

Little Wildhorse Canyon Hike

(Last Updated On: May 21, 2018)
How adventurous are you? If you’d like a truly amazing adventure, try hiking Little Wild Horse Canyon. This hike is famous, and rightly so. After the hike, our 6 year-old proclaimed it his favorite hike ever, and our 4 year-old insisted it was his favorite part of our summer.

Hike Info

  • Rating: Easy
  • Distance: 5.0 miles roundtrip (our version). The complete loop is 8.0 miles.
  • Elevation Gain: Not sure. But it doesn’t feel like much!
  • Fees: none
  • Tips: This hike is hot in the summer and also busy! We recommend hiking early in the day to avoid crowds.

Little Wild Horse Canyon is every kid’s dream hike!

Little Wild Horse Canyon makes an 8 mile loop with Bell Canyon. Both are slot canyons, and both are extremely narrow. We couldn’t take our kids all 8 miles, so we started up Little Wild Horse (reputed to be the better of the two) and ventured between 2 and 2.5 miles into the canyon. Neither boy complained (I had the baby on my back) because they were too excited to see what was around the next bend. There is not much climbing or scrambling, but a lot of sucking in and turning sideways to get through these narrow slots. Pictures can’t really do the hike justice, but we took a lot anyway. We even tried to shoot a video to show the twists and turns of this winding canyon. In short, I agree with my son– this is probably the best hike I’ve ever been on.

Take one of the trails that head into this wash.

The hike begins in a small pullout about 5 miles past Goblin Valley State Park. Here you can follow a few different trails toward the wash. Head left in the wash and soon you will come to a slight obstacle. It looks like this:

Most people would walk straight here, and then drop down around the big hole that is pictured in the right of this pic. We kept going up around the left and it was much easier.

Most people were scaling down into the drop and then walking around. We found the easiest route to be staying to the left. Follow a small ledge up around the corner. And soon you will see a sign that points to Bell Canyon or Little Wild Horse Canyon.

There is a little trail that leads up and around. Hold on to little one’s hands.

The sign shows up at the bottom of the trail around the obstacle.

At the signed junction, head right into Little Wildhorse Canyon. The canyon starts out wide and slowly narrows. We love exploring this part of the canyon with our boys. There are fun rock formations, and the canyon walls are beautiful. They love to walk along the wall and climb.

The canyon begins quite wide, but don’t worry. It will narrow soon.

The walls change quite frequently along this hike.

The rock formations are so interesting. These are little holes/arches. We were fascinated.

Our boys especially love the little holes in the walls.

Climbing up the rocks!

There is always a lot of climbing going on, too!

Soon the canyon gets pretty narrow and you wouldn’t be able to pass people very easily. There are some areas where you will be squeezing through. We love weaving in and out of the narrows. Little Wildhorse Canyon is a spectacular canyon to walk through.

Our boys walk through this canyon with their hands on the walls the whole time!

There is always a smile on everyone’s face whenever we hike in a slot canyon.

Though we did close to 5 miles (roundtrip) the boys loved every minute.

Though we did close to 5 miles roundtrip the boys loved every minute.

Our 3 year-old never wore out!

Our 3 year-old never wore out!

It's hard to capture the beauty of the area.

It’s hard to capture the beauty of the area.

We love the variety in Little Wild Horse Canyon.

At about 2.5 miles, Little Wildhorse Canyon opens up and becomes more broad. This is where we turned around. After this broad portion, the trail ¬†will turn along the ridge to take you down through Bell Canyon. We haven’t done Bell Canyon, so our hike ends up being about 5.0 miles long. You will not be disappointed with Little Wildhorse Canyon.

The video shows bits and pieces of our hike back through the canyon.

Directions

To find Little Wild Horse Canyon, you need to be on Goblin Valley Road (the road that will enter the state park). There are few turnoffs on this road, but there is one cross road called Little Wild Horse Road less than a mile before you enter Goblin Valley. Turn right (west) on that road and travel 5.3 miles to the trailhead. There’s a small parking lot, bathrooms, and a sign pointing you along the trail. Happy hiking!

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4 Comments

  • maps show that this is almost a three hour drive from Goblin Valley State Park. Is that accurate? Or is there a quicker way to get there?

    • No, Little Wild Horse Canyon is about 10 minutes from Goblin Valley State Park (or less). I can’t believe we haven’t included directions! We are working on that right now. Please check back in the next few hours.
      ~UAF