Description: Wilderness trail that heads from the East Fork of the Virgin River down through rocky canyons and out through a difficult, brushy, bushwacking hike on a faint trail.
Distance: 18.4 Miles
Difficulty: Difficult if you take Checkerboard Mesa.
Highest Elevation: 6,020 Feet Above Sea Level
Dangers: Flash Flood Possibilities & Rugged, Steep Terrain. The long distance may keep you overnight should anything unexpected occur.
Jurisdiction: BLM (Bureau of Land Management), Kanab Field Office; Zion National Park
The Barracks trail takes you, not only into Zion National Park, but also into BLM land outside the Park. The Trailhead is located half a mile south of the small town of Mt. Carmel Junction. Drive south from Mt. Carmel Junction on Highway 89 until you turn onto a gravel road that heads west. There are several places to park there at the trailhead.
The Barracks Trail takes you into the East Fork of the Virgin River, at times in chest-deep water. The Parunuweap Canyon is a much less visited area than much of Zion National Park and is well worth seeing if you enjoy more strenuous, brushy hiking trails. This hike is a true “wilderness” hike and special care should be taken to see that the wilderness aspect of this trail is preserved. Due to the high amount of wading this trail requires, it is extremely important that you do not go if there is any possibility of flash flooding or if the water levels are simply too high due to a larger than usual winter snowfall.
The Barracks Trail offers experiences of slot canyons and views of Navajo Sandstone, Parunuweap Canyon, The White Cliffs, Bay Bill Canyon, Elephant Cove, Mineral Gulch, Rock Canyon, Poverty Wash, Misery Canyon, the beginning of Labyrinth Falls (which require mountaineering equipment) and Checkerboard Mesa. There is a plaque along the way commemorating the 1872 expedition of John Wesley Powell, who took a string of pack mules through Parunuweap Canyon over the course of two weeks.