Mossy Cave, Waterfall, and Turret ArchBryce Canyon National Park, Ut
A Mossy Cave, Man-made Waterfall, and Turret Arch
Length: 1.3 mi
Elevation Gain: 141 ft
Approximate Hiking Time: 30 min to 1 hr
Features: Cave and Waterfall
Nearest Town: Tropic, Ut
A hike to Mossy Cave and the Tropic Ditch Waterfall is a fun hike for the whole family.
Discover a cave drenched in moss, a cascading man-made waterfall, and walk through a ditch carved by the hands of the pioneers.
- Trail Condition 100% 100%
- Usage 100% 100%
- Trail Head Easy to Find 100% 100%
- Kid Friendly 100% 100%
1. Take a Dip
Whether you get right under the waterfall or just walk in the Tropic Ditch take some time to enjoy the refreshing water on a hot summer day.
2. Mossy Cave
Okay, it’s also the name of the hike, but seeing a cave that’s wet enough year round to support moss? That’s pretty cool.
3. A Slice of History
Pioneers dug the Tropic Ditch by hand. It stretches for miles bringing irrigation water to the towns of Tropic and Cannonville. If nothing else seeing this ditch is awe inspiring. Shovel anyone?
Take Hwy 63 out of the park. Turn right (east) onto Hwy 12 towards Tropic. Follow Hwy 12 for about 4 miles.
The trailhead is on the right-hand side of the road as you head toward Tropic. Warning though. Parking is limited and it can be hard to find a spot.
Between 1890 and 1892 Mormon Pioneers dug the Tropic ditch by hand to bring irrigation water from the Sevier River to the towns of Cannonville and Tropic.
I don’t know about you, but I seriously can’t imagine digging thousands of feet of ditch by hand. Luckily today we don’t have to dig to spend time at the Topic Ditch, but rather enjoy it by walking along it on a wide and hardpacked path.
The trail crosses two bridges as it heads towards Mossy Cave and the Tropic Ditch Waterfall. After the first bridge it’s possible to walk through the water rather than on the trail if the water is low and slow flowing. Taking this route can be especially fun in the heat of summer; although it may be a better route to take on the return trip.
After the second bridge, the trail gets much steeper heading up to the fork in the trail. When you reach the fork head left towards Mossy Cave first.
Water keeps the cave constantly wet allowing moss to cover the inside. The viewing platform is quite small and the cave ceiling is low, but it’s an interesting place to see while you’re here.
From Mossy Cave take the trail back to the fork and continue along it for another 0.1 miles to the top of the falls. If you look up to the east you can see Turret Arch. While you can see some social trails that lead up to Turret Arch, note that this area is closed and signed so.
To get to the bottom of the waterfall, cross the bridge and walk down the bank. There is a social trail that leads towards the waterfall or you can walk up the ditch. The waterfall may be very busy, especially in summer with people playing in the water.
Why is this hike rated easy?
The trail is relatively short and has a slow climb until you reach the second bridge when it becomes more steep. Take your time, enjoy the walk, and relax.
More Hikes to Choose From
Check out this and more hikes in and around Bryce Canyon National Park and Tropic, Ut.
Length: 1.1 mi
Elevation Gain: 82 ft
Sunset to Sunrise Viewpoint is one of the easier parts of the Rim Trail winding around the Bryce Amphitheater.
Length: 0.4-1.3 mi
Elevation Gain: 121 ft
Bristlecone Loop offers a different side of Bryce Canyon with break taking views of the surrounding landscapes and slightly more solitude.
Length: 5.2 mi
Elevation Gain: 1407 ft
Descend into Bryce Canyon and walk among the hoodoos on this less traveled trail complete with amazing close-up views.