At some point in all my wanderings, somebody informed me about Leprechaun Canyon, a fantastic alternative to the often crowded slots of Southern Utah. Even on a fair weather weekend in the early summer, there was hardly a soul in the canyon when I visited
After a fairly crowded but enjoyable meander through Little Wild Horse and Bell Canyons, I referenced my many "want to go" destinations in Google Maps and realized I wasn't far from Leprechaun Canyon. Somebody, somewhere told me about this destination but I really had no idea what to expect. So, I drove southeast, found the parking area and set off.
Directions to Leprechaun Canyon Parking Area
From Hanksville Utah, the parking area is roughly 28 miles away. Set your odometer at the intersection of UT-24 and UT-95, right as you pass the gas station built into the mountain. Head South on UT-95 and drive 28.1 miles to an unmarked, dirt pull-out on the right. For additional reference, the parking area is 2.0 miles south on UT-95 after the intersection of UT-95 and UT-276. The parking area is non-descript and there's no cell reception for miles. Here's an area map:
If coming from the South, the trailhead is 19.3 miles North on UT-95 after the Hite Crossing Bridge over the Colorado River. Look for the dirt turnoff on the right.
Leprechaun Canyon Approach
From the unmarked parking lot, its just slightly less than 1.0 mile to the canyon entrance, where it really slots up. The route is obvious as long as you don't try to climb out of the canyon. Nevertheless, at the bottom its a bit ambiguous and several small herd paths lead through dense brush. Even in the summer heat, long pants and a shirt made these sections more bearable.
There's a few cairns that mark the path of least resistance. About 2/3rds of the way to the slot canyon section, I found a nice route up the slick rock that saved me from the brush. I continued above an extremely narrow section that looks like the slot canyon described in guidebooks but its not the best part.
At nearly 1.0 mile, Leprechaun canyon gets steep and progressively more narrow. It looks box-like initially, making for some interesting low-light photography. Of course, its the really narrow section which persists for maybe 500 yards that really grabbed my attention.
Slot canyons are so mysterious. I'll let the pictures do the taking:
I didn't encounter many other people on my squeeze through Leprechaun Canyon which was fortunate. There's some sections where its hard to squeeze more than one person by at a time. Keep your group sizes low for that reason.
I'm not sure how far most go in this canyon but when I came to an obvious fork after the extremely narrow section, it looked even narrower and possibly technical. Online trip reports indicate some prepared groups venture further but I was content with my 2.0 mile round trip hike. The photography opportunities were incredible.