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Hike of the week: South Fork of Taylor Creek
Directions • This is a beautiful, not-too-challenging hike in the Kolob Canyons area of Zion National Park. It's a great way to start exploring this less-traveled (and slightly closer to Salt Lake City) area, and a good way to avoid crowds when the park is more crowded. It will definitely be hot in the summer, though, so start early and bring plenty of water and sunscreen.
To get there, take Interstate 15 south for about 265 miles to the Kolob Canyons exit in New Harmony. The South Fork trailhead is located about 3.5 miles south of the Kolob Canyons visitor's center and about a mile south of the North and Middle Fork trailheads. The South Fork trailhead isn't an official trail maintained by the park, so it isn't very well-marked — unlike other trails, the parking lot doesn't have a sign mentioning it. The trailhead is located across the road from the parking lot to the east, marked by a wooden-framed sign about a dozen steps past the start.
The path is fairly well-marked after that. It descends about a mile in, then meanders back up again through spectacular red-rock scenery. A sandy surface creates a little more work, but nothing too hard. The trail ends at a dry streambed filled with salmon-colored sand; turn around and hike back out to finish.