Thursday, the Freehiking Utah Group traveled to Parowan Valley, and hiked Red Canyon, north of Paragonah. Six members of the group participated - two couples, Ken & PJ, Steve & Dawn, and also Ben & Dave. We met in SLC at 6:30 and headed south, arriving at the trailhead (after one car getting lost for a time) at about 10:30. It was safe to disrobe at the cars in the mouth of the canyon.
The hills in this area are sandy red and white, with weathered red cliffs, covered sparsely with Juniper and Pinion trees. A bald green mountain juts above these hills in the distance. Tall weathered red cliffs and trees guard both sides of the entrance to Red Canyon. The wide wash in the bottom of the canyon is sandy gravel and slick rock. It was wide enough that we could often walk side by side. There are weathered sandstone cliffs on both sides, carved by the wind and water into interesting shapes. One rock looks like a red stone version of Lot’s wife, frozen in time. A tall red cliff along the trail shows signs of an eagle nest (we saw an eagle flying as we entered the canyon). The day was warm, but an occasional breeze down the canyon, and shade from nearby trees cooled our naked bodies, making this an ideal hike.
About 40 minutes into the freehike, the trail divided. We took the left branch that climbed up a wide box canyon. About 15 minutes later we reached a ledge where we sat and ate a little lunch.
Then we started back. Dave took a few photos on our return (see http://imageevent.com/justmeina/paragona ).
The scenery seemed new, and was just as spectacular on the way down the canyon. Someone commented that the area reminded him of Moab. We had occasional views of the beautiful valley below the mouth of the canyon. It was such a wonderful freehike that we were reluctant to dress when we reached the cars. After the freehike the couples visited the remains of a nearby ancient Freemont Indian village (about 1300 AD), and picked up some Indian pottery.
All agreed it was a great freehike, and look forward to our next hikes.