You may have seen Moab's waterfalls on Instagram posts about Mill Creek. However, I bet you didn't see any post about the rock art along the trail. That right, one of Moab's best hiking trails has a hidden secret. Thousands of people walk by this bolder and never notice the bolster or see some of Moab's best rock art.
A hike to a Moab waterfall in town? Are you serious? Before the rise of social media this hike would have been considered one of Moab's best kept secret hikes. Well now the secret is out and this trail has become a very popular in town trail. Some may even say this trail rivals some of the best trails in Arches National Park. However, you can still have the trail to yourself if you are willing to get an early start. We took our kids on this summer hike while spending the 4th of July holiday at our 7A2 Moab Vacation Rental.
Left fork is the best family hike in Moab in my opinion. The trail starts right in town so there is no long car ride to worry about. The trail is relatively flat and the only real challenge is keeping your feet dry. On hot summer days you may choose to wear water shoes and simply walk in the creek. Another awesome trail in town is Hidden Valley, but the start is so difficult I can not recommend it for children.
The adventure on Left Fork Mill Creek starts just a few hundred yards after leaving the parking area. The first thing you will encounter is the old Moab power station and dam. The dam has a waterfall but it is not the one people come here to see, keep going.
There is abundant rock art along the trail if you take the time to look for it. Many Moab petroglyphs are damaged or destroyed, but there are still many to find and enjoy along the Mill Creek hike, even close to the parking lot.
Many time the trail is so close to the creek you are forced to get your feet wet, and icy conditions may make this trail impassible in the winter. After a while the creek will split and you will want to stay to the left, hince the name Left Fork. Just after the crossing the creek the trail continues up stream but if you go up on the ledge to the right you will find some of the best rock art in Moab. The interesting rock art panels on a pair of boulders and angled so you can't see the art from the trail. The vast majority of people simply walk past this area and never notice the petroglyphs just above them on the ledge. There are many winged men and even a cowboyglyph with a date of 1892. Can you imagine how different the area around Moab was in 1892? I doubt this guy was on an established trail. I don't think he went to town for a burger after his hike. There are only one or two minor rock art sites near the falls.
A short distance after these amazing petroglyph you will come to the Left Fork Falls. It is one of only a few waterfalls that I know of in the Moab area, and the only one close to town. By following the creek the trail will dead end at the falls. Just before the falls the trail vaguely resembles Zion National Park's Subway. To get to the top of the falls backtrack and climb up on a shelf on the left side of the canyon. Keep your kids close at hand if you take them to the top of the falls as the ledge directly at the falls is fairly narrow. On a hot summer day this area can get busy so plan ahead if you wish to avoid the crowd. I had a friend get hurt jumping from the falls, about 12 feet high, I don't recommend jumping.
The character of the canyon above the falls changes from bushes and rocks to an open grassy meadow. For most people this is the end of the hike but some continue all the way to Sand Flats Road and Otho Natural Bridge. For us we returned to the split in the creek and sent the kids home with their mothers. Sean and I decided to continued up Right Fork Mill Creek for a much longer hike.
If you are considering a Moab adventure we would recommend checking out the town homes at Moab Adventure Condo. We stayed with them and it was so nice to have room to relax and not be stuck in a cramped hotel room. Since the cost of the rental was split between two families it actually ended up being cheaper than a hotel room and much nicer. Not to mention the pool and hot tub were just sets from our condo.