Lesser seen side of Bryce Canyon.
When most people think of Bryce Canyon National Park, they think of deep canyons studded with hoodoos and wild Technicolor cliffs. Mossy Cave, located north and east of the main visitor's area, provides a slightly more intimate look at this section of Bryce Canyon. Mossy Cave is an easy hike within Bryce Canyon National Park, a relatively flat stroll up a wash-bottom on the eastern slope of the plateau. While the steep canyons in the main section are eroded by streams, it is the change in topography that makes the canyons so dramatic. Here, on the northeastern fringe of the park, the creeks and washes don't drop down to the Paria River in nearly such a steep fashion. Instead they meander slowly, merging with other streams, before cross the Tropic plain before dumping into the Paria. The canyons in this section are lower-walled, and narrower. The same Clarion formation underlays this section of the park as well, so the same hoodoos and wild rock colors pervade the area where they are exposed, but they peek out, as though hiding a secret, as opposed the the brazen exposure of the Bryce Amphitheater.
The trail starts at a parking area off of Utah Route 12, and drops into a wash. There is not really a trail here, but it is impossible to get lost. Head upcanyon, along the wash bottom. On the north side, several hoodoos top a ridge, and a couple small keyhole arches as well. The wash bends to the south slowly, and then turns sharply north. From this bend you can see a small pourover, about 6 feet high. Mossy Cave is on the west side of the canyon, easily seen from the wash bottom. An improvised trail heads out of the wash bottom to the mouth of the cave, more of an alcove with dripping springs and moss. Here water percolating down through the overlaying rock hits an impermeable layer, forcing the water out. The escaping water has eroded out the surrounding soft rock, creating the alcove. It is often cool, even chilly in the alcove, even in the summer. After checking out the Mossy Cave, head on over to the pourover - its pretty neat. Note: this hike is in a wash bottom. If there is a chance of heavy rain, you should not attempt this hike do to the danger of a flash flood. There is no drinking water along the trail, fill your water bottles at Ruby's, near the main entrance to Bryce Canyon National Park, or Tropic, just south of the trail on Utah Route 12.
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.
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