Northgate Peaks Trail to Lee Pass Trailhead
(18.2 miles, +1,100/-1,700 feet).
This morning we were a little leery of what lay before us. The next section of the hike was on the “Connector” trail. It sounded about as glamorous as an urban highway interchange. But even this part of the route was beautiful, and in an entirely different way.
We wound our way past sandstone ridges and through tall, dark forests in the early morning light.
The Connector Trail connects to the Hop Valley Trail, which is an annoying trudge through sand for a while. But then it drops down into a very flat river valley with intense red sandstone walls on either side.
We enjoyed the easy walk and stunning scenery.
There were several river crossings, but the river was quite shallow so any rock or branch could serve as a stepping stone.
There are several signs warning of ankle-deep mud, but we did not encounter any problem sections.
The Hop Valley Trail gradually descends and then climbs over a saddle to meet up with the La Verkin Creek Trail at about 5,300 feet. We stopped for water at the beautiful Beatty Spring and had some lunch.
We then crossed over the La Verkin and headed up a side trail to Kolob Arch.
The arch is huge (it is thought to be the second longest in the world), though it is somewhat far away from the trail.
We had reserved a backcountry campsite along the La Verkin Creek, but we had several hours left in the day, so we decided to finish the trail. The climb up to Lee Pass Trailhead at 6,100 feet was hot and dusty, but we were happy to be on our way to beer and comfy beds for the evening.