Utah State Park: Snow Canyon Cinder Cone

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After a morning playing in the sand, we headed back to camp. Big E had peed his pants at the Snow Canyon Sand Dunes, so after cleaning up that mess, we got on with our day.

The thing Big E liked best about our trip to Snow Canyon State Park was playing with friends.  We went on the trip with my sister-in-law’s family and various relatives and friends of hers.  Between all the families we had a gaggle of kids, all more entertaining for Big E than I could ever be. Since he was happily entertained, and my sister-in-law was there to watch him, I left with little g to explore the Cinder Cone hike.

This hike is described as difficult, with steep slopes and loose, uneven surfaces. It’s also described as only 1.5 miles so I figured I could handle it, even with little g in the hiking pack.  If you’re headed on this hike, be aware that you pass the north entrance to Snow Canyon and drive about a mile north on Highway 18 to get to the trail head.  And I use the term trail head loosely, it’s actually just a gravelly pull off on the side of the highway, marked by a sign.

We started on the trail, enjoying the breeze, butterflies and wildflowers.  Spring truly is the perfect time to visit Southern Utah.  The beauty of the red rocks can actually be enjoyed, because you aren’t sweating a gallon of water an hour while trying to make your tots happy.  In the summer, with highs regularly above 100 degrees, it’s just not a fun vacation. In the spring, it’s a beautifully stark landscape with amazing views and unique activities.

Cinder Cone trail winds through blackened lava rock to the backside of an ancient volcano. It’s been inactive for thousands of years (I don’t actually know how long it’s been dormant, but it’s been a heck of a long time) but it still left its mark. Sharp, black lava rock surrounds the cinder cone, and can be seen in several places in Snow Canyon State Park.  Because of this I would suggest not falling while you’re hiking. Seriously.  It would hurt.
Also, be careful with your footing, they weren’t lying about the uneven surfaces.  I was nervous about falling with little g in the pack, so on the steepest parts I asked my hiking companions for a hand, literally.  It was reminiscent of a gentleman taking a ladie’s hand to help her out of a carriage, only instead of a light touch and graceful moves, I clung for balance with my sweaty palms and unstable footwork. 
From the top of Cinder Cone trail, you can see the indentation of the cone, and hike into its sulfuric stench if desired.  OK, I don’t know if it’s truly sulfuric, but there was an odd smell at one point that was slightly reminiscent of personal body odor.  I blame the ancient volcano, not the pools of sweat under my arms from hiking uphill with thirty extra pounds on my back. Regardless, it’s cool to say you’ve been inside a real volcano, so you might as well.
I could see some amazing views from the top of the cone.  The city of Enterprise, UT is located to the north, and the white and red cliffs of Snow Canyon State Park loom to the west and south.  I would suggest NOT taking tots on this particular trail unless they are strapped to your back.  Little g did great, she especially enjoyed chasing butterflies at the top, but I doubt Big E could’ve handled the climb on his own. Older children, even as young as nine, would be fine with a little help from an adult.
The hike back down was more treacherous than the hike up.  Part of the treachery was the fear of falling and impaling myself on the dark rock shards. The other, more insistent part, was the constant wailing of little g, who hated getting back into the pack after the freedom of chasing butterflies. I ended up taking her out of the pack half way through and carrying her in my arms the rest of the way. 
Back at the truck I realized the cause of her discomfort was not the pack, but a stinky diaper.  What was with my tots and their bodily functions that day? At least the hike was short and I had a clean diaper in the car this time.

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Author: Mountain Mom

Hi! I'm Mountain Mom. I live with my husband and three young kids in the mountains near Sundance, Utah. When we're not hiking, biking, skiing and camping, I spend my time doing Mom stuff and reading. Summer of 2016 we traveled over 7,000 miles along the US National Park to Park Highway.

1 thought on “Utah State Park: Snow Canyon Cinder Cone”

  1. we did this one a couple years ago and it will go down in history as our hottest hike ever. And we have been on huge, long and more difficult ones but for some reason we thought it would be great to do this after doing other hikes earlier in the day and ended up here in the heat of the day in the heart of summer! You better believe we made our way to closet gas station as quick as we could for a nice cold one afterwards. Oey was very disappointed when we got to the top and there was no fiery lava bubbling away 🙂

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