Fay Canyon has long been one of the most popular hikes in Red Rock Country and for good reason: There’s plenty of parking at the trailhead, the route is relatively flat until the end and the views are remarkable. If you’re looking for solitude, however, you probably won’t find it out here. We hiked Fay Canyon midweek after a snowstorm, and even though the trail was muddy, snowy and icy, there was lots of foot traffic.
The trail begins to enter Fay Canyon almost immediately, but after 0.5 mile, you really start to notice the steep, red-rock canyon walls soaring on either side of you. Keep an eye out for interesting spires and pinnacles. The further you hike, the more the sky becomes just a narrow ribbon of blue high above you. At the 0.66-mile point, a side trail leading up to the Fay Canyon Arch begins on your right (rock piles on either side of the side trail make it easy to locate). We’ve been up to the arch before, and it’s worth the brief jaunt to be able to actually sit inside a sandstone arch. We decided to forgo the side trip during our most recent hike. But even if you skip it this time, look through the brush along the right side of the trail for views of the arch. It can be a bit difficult to see the formation because it looks like a rock overhang, but it’s actually a natural arch.
The trail remains level with manzanita, prickly pear cactuses and juniper growing on either side. After hiking 1.32 miles, you’ll reach a rock slide. Some hikers choose to turn around at this point, but the best views can be won if you climb up the boulders and rocks to a slick rock ledge. It’s not difficult to climb up and around the boulders – there’s a well-worn path that’s easy to follow. Once you get to the ledge, look behind you for views that stretch all the way to Courthouse Butte, Bell Rock and Cathedral Rock. The canyon walls are even narrower up here, making GPS and cell phone reception all but nonexistent. During our hike, two-foot-long icicles hung from the canyon walls and the sound of heavy snow falling from the evergreens echoed throughout the area. We kept hiking, and the ledge only became more picturesque and inviting. In the spring and summer, this would make for a great picnic or reading spot.
The trail winds its way along the ledge of a small rock amphitheater and continues up the canyon. We were forced to turn around after hiking about 1.5 miles because the ice and overgrown bushes made navigation precarious. We headed back to the trailhead for a nice and easy three-mile jaunt.