Hiking Southern Utah Shinob KibeHiking Southern Utah: Shinob Kibe

Trail: Shinob Kibe

Location: Washington City

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 1.64 miles round trip

Average Time: One hour plus exploring time

Starting elevation: 2,692’

Highest elevation: 3,290’

Total elevation gain: 593’

Directions: From Telegraph Street in Washington City, turn south on 300 East, left (east) on Indian Springs Drive, and left (north) on Red River Road, continuing as it curves to the right becoming Apache Drive. Continue on Apache Drive, turn left on Pocahontas Drive and then take a left onto Paiute Drive and follow it all the way to where the pavement ends. Park in the area next to the gate.

Shinob Kibe (pronounced Shih-NO-bee KY-bee) is a slanted mesa that is located in Washington, Utah near the Virgin River that is rich in historical significance. From the parking area, head down the dirt road a short ways while looking off to your right for a trail that heads up the side of the hill and is marked by a cairn. The path to the top is short but fairly strenuous with several steep drop-offs. Over three-fourths of a mile, you will gain 570 feet, and it should take no more than 20 or 30 minutes. The trail zigzags up the hill-side and is well marked. Once you reach the top, the trail continues across the top of the mesa to the south.

The mesa is a sacred mountain of the ancient Paiute Indians. “Shinob” means “Great Spirit” and “kiab” means “mountain.” The hill was used by the Paiutes in the 1800s as a defensive position against raids by the Navajos and Utes. Part-way across the top of the mesa, if you look off to your left, you will see a burnt stump. If you head towards the stump, and look closely you may be able to pick out the outline of a medicine wheel that was used for healing by the Paiute Indians. The circle is outlined with rocks, is about 20 feet in diameter, and has 6 spokes.

According to Indian legend, Fathers Escalante and Dominguez spoke with the Indians on top of Shinob Kibe when they arrived here in 1776 while trying to find a route from Santa Fe, New Mexico to Monterey, California. They may have been the first white men to visit the area.

As you continue on and reach the far edge of the mesa, you will find a summit register that you can sign to document your trek. There is also a geocache site in the vicinity. Another piece of history is the concrete navigational arrow that was built in the 1930s by the FAA and used by pilots flying from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City. It is one of six arrows in the area.

Take a few minutes to enjoy the panoramic views that can be seen from the top of the mesa. The vantage point affords spectacular scenery in every direction. If you want to explore a little further, head off to the west and you might discover Lover’s Cave, which is said to have caused many braves and squaws to have to get married.  It takes a little bit of searching to find, but it is there. Make sure you look back every once in a while as you make your way along the edge of the mesa and search among the rocks for the elusive cavern. When you are done exploring, find your way back to the center of the mesa and rejoin the path that will take you back down the same way you came.

Next time you are up for a short hike that will get your blood pumping and also offer a great lesson in history, go check out Shinob Kibe. This hike is one of the many treasure-filled wonders that is right in our own back yard.