Short, nontechnical and free: Leprechaun Canyon is one of Utah’s accessible slot canyon hikes

(Erin Alberty|The Salt Lake Tribune) Orange rock walls tower over children in Leprechaun Canyon on April 29, 2017.

Utah’s slot canyons are iconic hiking experiences, but getting there can be overwhelming sometimes. They may require long, hot hikes through open desert or intimidating drives over questionable dirt roads.

Leprechaun is unique in that it is adjacent to a paved highway. Canyon walls begin rising above the trail almost immediately, and stunning, towering narrows are less than a mile from the trailhead. I’ve seen dogs and toddlers negotiate the hike with little trouble.

Getting there • The trailhead is on State Road 95, just east of mile marker 28, on the north side of the road. It’s 2 miles southeast of the junction with State Road 276, about 19 miles northwest of the Colorado River bridge on S.R. 95, and about 28 miles southeast of the junction with State Road 24 in Hanksville. There is a short driveway to a parking lot at the trailhead.

The hike • A dirt trail runs north of the parking area and winds around the base of a rock hill on the east. It cuts through reeds and meanders under trees for a bit before the scenery is dominated by sand and rock.

Just over a half mile in, a little slotty section begins to form on the left; it looks fun but is kind of hard to get out of, so explore it if you want — but to continue through the canyon, climb up the slickrock slope to the right and walk alongside the mini slot above it. You’ll hike back down to the canyon floor a short ways ahead and continue another quarter mile below soaring redrock walls and through skinny, dark narrows.

LEPRECHAUN CANYON<br>Hiking time • 2 hours<br>Round-trip miles • 2 miles<br>Elevation gain • 100 feet<br>Difficulty • Easy <br>Trailhead restrooms • No<br>Fees • None<br>Dogs allowed • Yes<br>Bikes allowed • Not recommended