Distance: 0.5 miles (one way)
Best time of year: Year-round
Last hiked: 2015 October
For those who are on Highway 12 skipping Bryce Canyon National Park (why would you do that?), or for those heading to Bryce Canyon National Park from the east, Mossy Cave is a great sampler of what the park has to offer. …with a lot of water.
The trail follows a man-made diversion of the East Fork of the Sevier River past monumental hoodoos and large orange hills covered in a ponderosa pine forest. The pleasant walk leads you up to a fork where one direction will bring you to a waterfall, and the other to the Mossy Cave. The Mossy Cave is a perpetual spring dripping from the ceiling of a large overhang, creating an unusually out-of-place environment ripe for algae and moss.
The waterfall, though appearing natural, was actually partially man-made. Mormon settlers to the town of Tropic, found east of the park, created the Tropic Reservoir just west of Bryce Canyon National Park and created a separate runoff that would use as many natural channels as possible to ultimately deliver water to the town. The waterfall historically would have only been there after a heavy rain, but now runs consistently from spring to fall.
From the Bryce Canyon National Park Visitor Center, head north, out of the park, for 3.75 miles. At the junction with Highway 12, make a right and head east for 3.6 miles. You’ll see a spacious parking area on the right where the trail begins.