The Wave Trail

MODERATE 118 reviews

The Wave Trail is a 6.1 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Kanab, Utah that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is best used from March until December. Dogs are also able to use this trail.

DISTANCE
6.1 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
931 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dog friendly

birding

hiking

nature trips

walking

views

wild flowers

rocky

NOTE: A permit is required for this hike. To attain the permit you must win it through the permit lottery. For information about The Wave and the permit process, call the Ranger Station at (435) 688-3230 Walk across the road, to the east, and locate the hikers path. Sign in at the register box and read pertinent information. Soon the path drops into a wash. Walk down the wash (east) for .6 miles. Look for the signed path of use on the right side, above the wash, exiting Wire Pass Wash. Hiking becomes steep for the next few hundred yards, as an old 4WD road is followed to the top of the ridge and to the second register box. Once again, stop and sign in at the register. Shortly after leaving the register box, there may be an indication that the trail splits. Taking the left-hand fork is easier traveling. It continues east and passes large rock domes on the flats below. After passing the domes, the trail soon drops into a wash. It will be necessary to cross the wash and approach the slickrock ridge to the east of the wash. Continue to the east, up and over the slickrock ridge. Once on top, work down the east side (backside) of the ridge, but start bearing to the south (hikers right), and stay as high as it is comfortable, on the steep slopes of the ridge on the right. Landmarks to locate the Wave Vertical Crack or Notch Looking south, a large slickrock mountain comes into view. There is a long, vertical crack in the mountain. This crack becomes the landmark to steer toward for the next mile. The Wave is located beneath the mountain with the crack. On the way, remember to stay as high as comfort allows, hugging the sandstone slabs on hikers right. The Wave landmark - Notch Twin Buttes As travel continues south, two large buttes come into view. These are called the Twin Buttes, and come almost halfway through the hike. They are easier passed by walking up the slickrock bowl and going around the right side. A wash is encountered .5 miles after rounding the Twin Buttes. Multi-colored Domes Peer across the wash and notice the multicolored domes on the opposite side of the wash. These and the less obvious sandstone formations to the right are the Wave. Walk down into the wash, locate the dead juniper tree and the sandy path that leads up to the Wave. The Wave The area called Top Rock, is a collection of white Navajo sandstone formations. The south end of Top Rock divides North and South Coyote Buttes. The Wave is a chasm located on the northwest edge of Top Rock. The Wave is about .04 miles south of the Arizona and Utah state line. Top Arch Most hikers never venture this far past the Wave. This section involves third class scrambling. Only those experienced in slickrock scrambling should attempt to go to the arch and beyond. Continue up the sandstone, heading toward the right. Locate the arch at the top of the mountain. Find the easiest path to travel up the steep slickrock. The arch is approached from the backside of the mountain. From the arch, the red cones of South Coyote Butte are visible. Alcove This hidden treasure is rarely found by hikers. To locate the alcove, return the way you approached the arch. This time stay to the left, hiking over crossbedded sandstone. In the alcove, fine grains of sand have been tossed and turned, wielded by wind, leaving a sculptured creation carefully piled in its bowels. Melody Arch - Grotto - Window From the alcove, scramble up and left of the alcove to attain the top. Once on top, travel southeast, following the maze of ridges and desert tanks, staying as high as possible. Steer toward the eastern edge of the cap rock. Soon a chasm appears in front. Look down and into the grotto that contains the window and Melody Arch. Backtrack far enough to find an easy route down into one of the tanks, scramble out the backside and slide down into the Melody Arch Grotto. Dinosaur Tracks From the Wave: The small reptile tracks are on the other side of the wash, opposite of the Wave. To locate them, cross back over the wash and travel up to the level ground on the north side of the wash. Rather than retracing the return path back to Wire Pass parking, hike to the west. Stay against the steep slickrock mountain, as high as possible. The Wave can actually be seen from the tracks. The GPS coordinates given are to one track. Look around to locate many more, within 100 yards. Many of the tracks are found at the base of the steep slickrock slab to the north, and are in pinkish colored rock, just before the slabs become seemingly impossible to ascend. The footprints appear to be from small bipedal dinosaurs, most likely Grallator (Megapnosaurus) and Anomoepus.

hiking
43 minutes ago

A wonderful hike and beautiful geologic feature. While The Wave was the main event for the hike and certainly worth the effort, the out and back hike and wandering around the area is fascinating. The views are endless.

1 month ago

The Wave is a once-in-a-lifetime experience! Our permits were for late March. The weather was perfect, it drizzled at times which kept the temperature perfect. We didn't use a compass or GPS... probably would've found it faster if we had. It was a rough hike for the non-hiker in the group.

1 month ago

Amazing! Easy hike but be very very careful with navigation, you can get lost easily.

1 month ago

This was a hike that was beautiful and a good workout that ended at one of the most beautiful natural shrines I have seen. A highlight on a trip full of great hikes!

2 months ago

Definitely a beautiful hike if you can get a permit through the lottery! Went at the end of February 2 years ago and even with the cooler temps, it was still hot. There is no shade so take more water than you think you need!

3 months ago

lifetime memory

3 months ago

Beautiful!

4 months ago

wonderful

5 months ago

Really fun and worth the lottery process. The Wave is spectacular, as are the surrounding areas and the hike in/out. But if you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t go! The volunteer ranger has some horror stories... also don’t think that you can do this without a permit. You will get caught! We saw a group of 6 caught without permits and fined $1500 each!

hiking
5 months ago

We were lucky to win the Lottery at first attempt. It’s really a great privilege to be able to do this epic hike. Fantastic to see the Wave in real, but don’t forget to go further to Wave2 and down in the Canyon. There’s a lot to see.
Also, if you want the best light you should be on site early morning, preferably before 10 am. Afternoon light is also pretty nice, as it reveal other parts of the Wave.

hiking
5 months ago

We went in December and were lucky to score a walk up permit on our first try. The hike was breath taking, not just the wave but the journey there was filled with beautiful scenery. Note that in December aim to arrive by 10:30am at the wave for bear light, we got there around 1pm and parts were shaded but it was still amazing.

6 months ago

We were so lucky to win the lottery online. Came all the way from NY and we were awestruck. We felt like we were on Mars the entire time. We went in January and it was a fantastic temp of 53 degrees. We had no cell service or gps service, you’re really out in the middle of nowhere and it’s great if you know what you’re doing

hiking
7 months ago

We hired a guide to take us to the wave and it was well worth it! We enjoyed the wave so much and our guide also took us to many places around the wave. I can’t recommend this place enough!

hiking
8 months ago

2nd time here and still worth the trip. Bad part was the genius that got their RV stuck and blocked the road for hours. If you aren't sure where your vehicle will go, do not try it here.

hiking
9 months ago

If you're going around any time that it rained you may be better off entering from the south. I had the folks at the BLM station tell me the north entrance road was "open, but probably slick." When pressed a bit more they admitted they themselves would never drive on it in those conditions, but I was welcome to give it a try. No thanks.

Even with the extra distance around it is absolutely worth the trip.

hiking
9 months ago

One trail crossed from bucket list !! Yeah

hiking
10 months ago

This was a great hike to a final amazing location!

Our family hit the jackpot by getting picked in the lottery the first time we tried!

We hit the trailhead at 5:55 AM and we're back to our vehicle about 11 AM. We spent about one hour in and near the wave.

That is definitely the way to go with the hot weather! Be sure to bring a lot of water.

hiking
10 months ago

Amazing hike, planned a whole vacation around it, I highly recommend it.

hiking
11 months ago

Absolutely stunning.....
Worth the wait and effort of the lottery.
I'd go again in a minute !

The campsite was much nicer than I expected. There are several sites now, maybe 8 with canopys for shade and a bathroom. ( No running water )
We stayed into the heat of the day and had the place to ourselves all afternoon to explore. But the hike back was a bit grooling in 97 degree heat and no sign of shade. Luckily we all had plenty of extra water. The breeze saved us, but we were a bit sand blasted by the end.
Be safe out there......
What a gorgeous gift of nature !!

hiking
Friday, May 19, 2017

Beautiful bucket list destination. It's really not a trail. The hike is easy to the wave and even though the actual wave itself is small the hike to and around the wave is beautiful!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

You MUST have a permit to take this hike! It's by lottery daily. We showed up at 8:40 am for a 9:00 am drawing and we're net by 64 other contenders hoping to be one of 20 people allowed to hike the trail!
The Ranger has a Bingo bin with numbers and chooses who gets in at 9:00 am the day prior to the hike!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Amazing!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

what a master piece of GOD

hiking
Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Exhilarating! This was a difficult, but enormously rewarding hike.

Make sure to book four months in advance or you're totally at the mercy of the daily morning lottery.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Most amazing hike I've ever done! What a fantastic gem on our beautiful Earth!!

hiking
Monday, August 15, 2016

A must hike for any hiking aficionado! The Wave is considered one of the most spectacular hikes in the world!

hiking
Thursday, August 11, 2016

Our first nonguided trail happens here in July. Get a lot of water and cover with extra skin. Finding the route is not an issue neither the hike itself, but be prepared for the heat if you are visiting around the same time.
Bring a GPS can be helpful, but you can find the route with guiding photos handy.

hiking
Monday, May 16, 2016

Worth the work involved in getting a permit. It was like nothing I've ever seen.

hiking
Monday, March 21, 2016

The wave is not in Kanab the BLM office for the lotto permit is if you don't apply online. Absolutely stunning! Bring plenty of water. Even in March I went through nearly 2 liters. Also, hiking in sand is hard. I'm used to mountain trails and I think maybe I'd take one with an incline over sand anyday lol but seriously it is completly worth it. Make it a 2 day trip and hit wire pass to buckskin gulch. It's also amazing

hiking
Friday, March 04, 2016

Outstanding!!

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