Summer is quickly approaching bringing with it the excitement of trying out new hiking trails. With the variety of trails available, it can be hard to narrow down which is best for you and your family to enjoy. Luckily, there are a variety of trails in Southern Utah your whole family will love. One such trail is the Timber Creek Overlook on Exit 40 off Highway I-15.
So many families and hikers love the unique views of the red rocks and canyons found in Zion National Park. The Timber Creek Overlook trail is part of the not as well-known Kolob Canyons about an hour away. This trail provides a secluded, incredible view of mountains, canyons, pines, and buttes.
If you are looking for a family-friendly hike, with a beautiful backdrop, without the crowds of Zion, this trail is perfect for you! Read on to discover where to find the trail, what to expect, the best times to hike, and tips for making your hike a success for the whole family!
Distance: 1.1 miles
Elevation Gain: 255 feet
Dogs Allowed: No
Trail LocationSee on Google Map
The Timber Creek Overlook Trail is in the Kolob Canyons–a backdrop for Zion National Park. Whether you are visiting Zion or going down to Sunny St. George, this trail is too often bypassed by travelers who don’t know what they are missing. If you are traveling down from Up North, this beautiful overlook should not be missed on your travel itinerary.
Luckily, this trail is easy to find! Once you turn off Highway I-15 onto Exit 40 you’ll follow the Kolob Canyons Road for a little over five miles. Even before reaching the Parking Lot that will lead you to the trailhead, you get to experience incredible views of the red canyons as you drive up the scenic route.
When you’ve reached the end of the scenic road you will find Kolob Canyon’s Viewpoint Parking Lot. You won’t have to worry about parking as it is very large. No matter your vehicle–van, RV, small car, or camping trailer–there is parking for each type.
Every time I have hiked this trail there has been enough parking available to not worry about finding somewhere other than the parking lot to park. The parking lot and trail do fill up a lot more during the spring and summer weekends and on holidays. So if you are planning your hike around this time, you should plan accordingly.
Once you’ve parked, the trailhead can be found at the west end of the parking lot. Close by there are restrooms available. Make sure to use them before you begin the hike as there are none available throughout it. Additionally, make sure that you plan and have plenty of water as the only accesible water refill is at the Visitor’s Center at the park entrance.
If you not only want to hike but also enjoy a picnic with your family there are picnic tables near the parking lot as well. Whether you want to eat a quick bite before you hike, or sit down, rest, and recharge with a delicious meal after your hike they are there for you.
The Timber Creek Overlook Trail is pretty easy for beginner hikers and younger children. Altogether it is a 1.1-mile roundtrip hike, with only 255 feet of elevation gain. The gently sloping trail gradually leads you up to a rock outcropping with a view of Shuntavi Butte, Timber Creek, Kolob Terrace, and the Pine Valley Mountains. You get an amazing 360 view that takes your breath away.
Due to the ease of the hike, it only takes 20 minutes for experienced, in-shape hikers. For those bringing young children or for anyone who wants to soak in the view and get some gorgeous backdrop pictures for their social media, it takes closer to an hour.
As an avid hiker and outdoors lover, the first time I did this hike with friends, it took us around 10 minutes to get to the overlook. Due to the incredible 360 view stretching out on every side, we took some time to explore. In addition to our exploring, we of course had to take some pictures to document the beautiful view for our Instagrams. Taking that extra time for pictures and exploring added about 30 minutes to our hike. Once we were finished, it took us another 10 minutes to get back to the trailhead.
The trail starts with wood, sand, and dirt, followed by sparse trees and bushes. As you continue up, it opens up more into a flat hilltop of packed dirt. When you keep going on the trail, you will slowly begin to see a sneak peek on your left of the views you will get later on in the hike. Mountains, pines, and canyons begin to appear.
The gradual ascent and a sneak peek of the view you will eventually get make this hike an enjoyable one. We were able to talk, walk side by side, and enjoy the view. The trail allows for two people to walk comfortably side by side, again making it a wonderful option to choose when hiking with young children.
Although it is an easy-going hike going up to the overlook, it doesn’t provide much, if any shade. We made the mistake of going during the hottest part of the summer in addition to the hottest part of the day. It was great in the fact that we almost had the trail completely to ourselves, but it was really hot! If you choose to hike it during this time, I’d suggest having plenty of water, sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses with you to stave off the heat.
As you near the overlook, the path becomes rockier, including large and small rocks and boulders. Additionally, the path becomes steeper as you near the outcropping. You’ll know you’ve reached your destination when you see easy-to-sit-on, large boulders with views surrounding you on each side.
An amazing part of this hike is the variety of views you can see from each side. You won’t just be looking at trees or hills. You will see the Kolob Canyon and Terrace, as well as the Pine Valley Mountains, Shuntavi Butte, Timbertop Mountain, and Nagunt Mesa. Also, if you hiked the La Verkin Creek Trail, you can see it below you at this overlook.
No matter which side you look at, you won’t be disappointed. If you love to take pictures for yourself or of your family, there are so many options available, with differing views for each background!
Once you’ve taken pictures, enjoyed the views, and explored the end of the trail, you will begin your descent. I loved the ease of the hike down. After any hike, you’ll always be tired. Especially, when doing a slightly longer one with kids, this one provides relief for everyone from a completely downhill descent.
When to Hike This Trail
No matter what hike you are doing, it’s essential to figure out the best time of year and day to do the hike. Luckily this trail is open year-round. An added perk to hiking it in the spring and early summer though is the beautiful desert wildflowers found throughout the trail.
When you are planning on doing the Timber Creek Overlook Hike, remember to check for seasonal closures. At times during the winter and early spring, it may be closed due to snow. Also, throughout the year, there are sometimes rockslides that occur that cause closures to roads to get there or the hike itself. Additionally, I’d suggest not hiking it during or after a rainstorm, as there will be added mud and slipperiness on the trail.
A wonderful perk about the Timber Creek Trail Overlook Hike is its accessibility yearlong. Due to its ease of access and shortness, it is a great option no matter the time of year.
Another specific to consider is the best time to hike the Timber Creek Overlook Trail. I believe it depends on what is most important to you when hiking. If you are looking to avoid the crowds and the heat, and love sunrise views I’d suggest hiking it early in the morning. Not only will you skip the crowds and the heat, but you will also get a beautiful view of trees, buttes, and mountains bathed in the sunrise.
If the early morning hikes aren’t for you, you can opt for the mid-morning, mid-day hike. I would only suggest this time during the cooler months and seasons as there is not much available shade throughout the hike. Make sure to pack some sunscreen as well, as the sun will be beating down on you throughout the hike.
Although, every time I have visited this hike it hasn’t been that busy, the busiest time is during the late afternoon and early evening. If you are willing to risk seeing more people on your hike, the sunset views are worth it! You also get the added perk of missing the added heat of the day.
If you are looking to hike the other trails in Kolob Canyon on the same day as the Timber Creek Overlook Trail, I’d suggest either starting or ending with it. The other hikes available are more shaded, so they are better options for mid-day hikes. Plus, you can’t beat the views of this trail during the sunrise or sunset!
Tips for Hiking This Trail with Kids
This is a perfect trail for kids as the majority of it follows a dirt path and there is very little elevation gain throughout. As you are hiking up to the viewpoint you can see wildflowers, sagebrush, and small bushes and trees. As you get closer to the viewpoint there are fun rocks to climb and hike over. Until you reach the end of the hike, you also don’t have to worry about any steep drop-offs or overhangs.
Throughout the hike, you will run into various wildlife too. Some creatures often seen on this trail include jackrabbits, squirrels, snakes, and lizards. For those who love birds, you can often spot ravens, eagles, blue scrub jays, and hawks. Sometimes you can find mule deer as well. One of my favorite things to do when hiking with my little siblings has a contest to see how many lizards we each see and count during our hikes!
For night-time hikers, some wildlife is more often seen during this time. They include foxes, skunks, bobcats, coyotes, and mountain lions. As always with hikes make sure to be aware while you are hiking and keep in mind safety precautions if you do run into these creatures.
Some of the plants you can find around the trail include Utah Juniper Trees and cacti. Make sure to keep your eyes out for the cactus so you don’t get into a prickly situation!
In addition to the ease of the hike and the fun flora and fauna you will experience along the trail, kids will love the views at the end. The large rock outcroppings allow for exploration and plenty of room to see each of the amazing rock outcroppings, forestry, and canyons that surround the overlook.
Whether you are looking for an easy hike with incredible views, a hike that avoids the crowds, or one that the whole family will enjoy, the Timber Creek Overlook Trail will satisfy all of those needs. From toddler to grandparent, this hike will be one that the whole family will remember throughout their lives. As always, don’t forget to take pictures and recommend this hike as one of your favorites to your fellow family hikers!
Author : Bailey Allen