Mossy Cave – Bryce NP

Distance1.27 mi
Elevation Gain256 ft
My Time36 min
DifficultyEasy
Closest TownBryce Canyon
Food NearbyCowboys Buffet

Mossy Cave

The Mossy Cave hike is an easier hike at Bryce Canyon National Park. It features a small stream and a waterfall. Up a small hill also reveals the cave that gives this hike it’s name.

Getting Started

The Mossy Cave trail is not in the main section of the park and is the north east corner off of Utah 12. I only saw it as I was driving from Capitol Reef on the scenic byway. (Side Note: Utah 12 between those two parks is a great drive!) The parking lot is small but there is an auxiliary lot just down the road that I parked in so my distance stats will be a little higher.

The trail starts right by the little stream and you can see it for a majority of the first part of the trail. There are a few sections where you can even get down close to the water which was great.

The small creek on the Mossy Cave trail.  The trail is visible on the right hand side of the screen and the stream snakes its way down the middle of the screen.

The Waterfall

After crossing a bridge over the stream the trail will split into two directions. The right fork of the trail will lead to the waterfall and the left will head to the cave. The waterfall is only about a half mile from the trailhead so not too bad at all. There is an overlook that gives views of the falls from above but a group of people did climb down into the falls themselves.

A small waterfall at Mossy Cave. The falls drop about 8 feet without too much water flowing.  More than a drip but less than a deluge.

The Hill

Around the trail there are several off shoot trails that traverse the area around the stream. A lot of the trails have signs on them that they are closed for restoration. Please stay off those trails. A few of the trails did not have the signs and can lead to the tall hill that is above the waterfall. From this higher perspective some of the Bryce Canyon rock formations come into view. To me it looked like the front of a courthouse with giant pillars.

One of the impressive rock formations from the higher cliff at Mossy Cave.  The rocks look like giant pillars of silos reaching straight up from about mid way up the hill.

The Mossy Cave

The Mossy Cave was my last stop on the hike and it was the steepest section to get to. From the original sign at the junction, the cave is about a tenth of a mile. The trail leading to it has an incline of between 15-18% for most of the trail so steep if you aren’t used to elevation gain on a hike.

The cave is fed by an underground spring that causes the moss to grow even in the very arid climate of Utah. In the winter the same water freezes into icicles. Because the cave doesn’t get sun the icicles can last well into the spring. On the day I went in late April, there was still plenty of ice.

In the Mossy Cave in April the cave was still more ice than moss.  Some green moss is visible on the cave walls and some white icicles stretch towards the top of the cavern.

Elevation and Distance

If you don’t have the AllTrails app you might want to check it out, I really love mine. It records your progress and is a great way to search for hikes that are nearby and gives you difficulty measurements. According to AllTrails today’s hike was around 1.27 miles and had a total elevation gain of about 256 feet including undulations. That put the high point at around 7,087 feet. I was also moving for a total of 36 minutes.

Effort

This is a bit of a unique hike in that you can put in as much effort as you like and still enjoy yourself. The hike to the waterfall for instance is relatively flat. If you would like to go to the mossy cave you will have to climb up a smaller hill. Finally, if you would like to get some more panoramic views you can climb up the taller mountain with a bigger elevation gain and a bit more effort.

Terrain

The Mossy Cave trails are very well defined and hard dirt paths. There are several off shoot paths as well. A lot of the off shoot paths have signs that they are closed. I did see a lot of people walking on these closed paths. There are plenty of paths that don’t have closed signs to explore the whole area.

Access

The Mossy Cave hike is part of the Bryce Canyon National Park System. It is located on the north-eastern part of the park on Utah 12 Scenic highway. There is parking for about 15 cars at the lot and then a larger overflow lot about a quarter mile down the road. Bryce Canyon does have an entrance fee of $35 per private vehicle. Annual and Lifetime Passes are also accepted.

Wrapping Up Mossy Cave

Mossy Cave was a fun short hike that was very popular. A bunch of the kids were down playing in the stream or the waterfall and it seemed like a very popular place for families. The hike isn’t too challenging, especially if you stay on the trails that are open.

I wish the cave was more on the mossy side and less on the icy side when I went to see what that would look like but it was still a really fun hike that most people should enjoy!

If you don’t have the AllTrails app you might want to check it out, I really love mine. It records your progress and is a great way to search for hikes that are nearby and gives you difficulty measurements. According to AllTrails today’s hike was around 9.55 miles and had a total elevation gain of about 1614 feet including undulations. That put the high point at around 9,434 feet. I was also moving for a total of 4 hours and 3 minutes.

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