Mill Creek hike
Mere minutes from downtown Moab, this mostly flat hike leads up Mill Creek into a gorgeous, secluded canyon. A stunning waterfall and swimming area is found at the trail’s terminus – a real treat on hot summer days!
From downtown Moab drive towards E S 300 St. Turn east onto the road and follow it to its end, where you will turn right on to Fourth E St. After a short while you will turn left onto E Mill Creek Drive. Past Rotary Park you will turn right to continue on E Mill Creek Dr. After a few bends in the road you will turn left onto Powerhouse Ln, where the road will turn to dirt after roughly a block. The dirt road is easily drivable by sedans. At the trailhead you will find adequate parking as well as a pit toilet.
|When to do|
Out and back
Route Description for Mill Creek hike
From the trailhead, follow the clear path that leads along the right side of the river. The entire hike follows Mill Creek, so it is pretty easy to know if you are going the wrong way! The flat, well leveled trail leads along the river for a short while until you reach the first waterfall. This artificial waterfall is one spot to stop if you have little kids who just want to swim!
For the rest of those continuing along the route, hike the trail as it winds with the river. There are small trail markers with arrows to guide you, however they are easy to miss. Approximately halfway through the hike you will reach a fork in the river. One path clearly crosses the river to the left, while the other continues along to the right. Take the leftmost path and complete your first river crossing, entering a steep sided canyon.
Though the water is not deep, it is usually quite cold and at different times of the year can be moving at different rates. For those uneasy on their feet, hiking poles can be an asset to stabilize you on these crossings. When we completed the hike, the water levels required us to take off our hiking shoes and cross barefoot. The path continues and becomes sandier, making it often possible to continue along barefoot until the next stream crossing.
There are three crossings in total before reaching the final waterfall. They are all quite short, not too deep, and the trail on the other side is clearly visible. At the second creek crossing, a switch-backing trail leads up to the left. Do not take this path; continue along straight and cross. After the third river crossing there will be another fork, take the rightmost trail that continues along beside the creek.
You will soon reach the bottom of the waterfall. Though short, the gorgeous cascading water is truly stunning, as are the steep sandstone cliffs lining the canyon as you look back. A pleasant pool has formed beneath the falls, which is nice to take a dip in when the weather is warm enough.
For some, this is the end of the hike. However there is much more to explore above the falls! Backtrack to just after the third river crossing and take the other fork. This trail scrambles up the rocks to the left of the creek, going behind the cliffs the form the waterfall. Take care as the path is sometimes very steep and moderate climbing is required. From the top of the falls you will undoubtedly meet sun tanners, picnickers, and families all enjoying the stunning beauty of the Mill Creek canyon.
For those who are more adventures, a plethora of trails continue up the valley, granting more and more stunning views. Even from the falls you will be able to see a spectacular half dome cave carved out of one of the cliffs.
Sturdy sandals and hiking poles make the river crossing on this hike much more enjoyable.
Pack a lunch and a towel; Picnicking and suntanning on the smooth flat rocks above the falls are popular.
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