Little Wild Horse Canyon / Bell Canyon loop trail

A superlative short-day hike in canyons that slot up to the width of your body.

★★★★★

Wow factor

★★★★★

Overall rating

★★★

Difficulty

★★

Trailhead access

★★

Crowds

You can combine this 8 mile hike with a trip to nearby Goblin Valley. There’s a signed turn off from the Goblin Valley access road and you follow a good sandy dirt road for around 5 miles to the trailhead. The sand can be a little deep in places so maintaining a good speed is essential.

 

This is a loop hike you can do in either direction, though most people start out in Little Wild Horse first. Canyon ‘narrows’ are uncommon and long sections of narrows even more rare, but you’ll find them here. Little Wild Horse is the better of the two so if you have limited time choose that option, hiking as far as you wish and returning the way you came. There is (or was) a map at an info kiosk at the trailhead.

 

Generally the trail follows the canyon floor but occasionally you may need to clamber over rocks or pouroffs. Some sections, after rain, may be flooded but normally this will be only a few inches deep – you can always shed your boots for a few yards.

The hike starts nice and level but a pouroff soon after means you’ll need to scramble up to your left to avoid the obstruction. The canyon soon slots up and in some sections you’ll need to turn sideways and carry your pack in your hand. Here the canyon isn’t very deep but very little light can get in so it’s cool on a hot summer’s day. After exiting Little Wildhorse you’re back into the sunlight and this is a good place for lunch. You now follow a hiker-made trail to a section of 4WD dirt road that at first rises, then finally descends into the head of Bell Canyon. Bell Canyon is shorter than Little Wild Horse and the narrows wider but it’s still impressive.

 

As in all slot canyon locations, please be aware of the weather conditions before you hike out. This is one of the last places you want to be in the event of a flash flood as there are some sections here from which there is no easy escape route. I have a 50% success rate of being able to hike this trail due to nearby thunderheads that appeared by the time I arrived at the trailhead. If in any doubt ask the rangers at Goblin Valley.

© 2015-2020 Bob Palmer.