I have enjoyed hiking for many years, so I enjoy sharing what I know and tips about places to hike.
The Red Hills of Saint George
Saint George, Utah
Nestled in the Southwest corner of the Beehive State about 120 miles from Las Vegas, sits the thriving urban center of St. George, Utah. The city has grown a lot since it was settled by George Smith, brother to Joseph Smith, back before the Civil War. Today, there is state college located here, as well as a decent public bus system. Also, retirees have taken a liking to the city because of its desert landscape and mild winters.
Fortunately, for those who enjoy outdoor hiking, there are numerous trail options, all located in or very close to St. George. For a enticing sample of beautiful red cliffs and a Southwestern desert setting, many outdoor enthusiasts might enjoy the time they spend here.
The Red Cliffs Desert Reserve
The Red Cliffs Desert Reserve is a large tract of wild land in Washington County, Utah. The natural desert area is administered by Washington County in coordination with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), Utah Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and State of Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA).
The Red Cliffs are a scenic array of red sandstone hills, located in a unique natural area, where the Mojave Desert meets the cooler biological regions of the Colorado Plateau and Great Basin. As a result the area supports populations of the Mojave Desert tortoise, sidewinder rattlesnake, Gila monster and chuckwalla, all reptiles that are most commonly found in hotter places.
You can tell when you are on a Red Cliffs hiking trail because of the low fences that are present at each trailhead. These barriers have been put in place by biologists in an effort to prevent the threatened turtle from wandering across the local highways.
Red Hills Desert Garden
The Chuckwalla Trail
Named for the common Southwestern lizard, the Chuckwalla trailhead is located on the north side of the city. Because of the many red rock cliffs that line the pathway, this place is popular with rock climbers, as well as hikers and bikers.
To find the trailhead and parking area, all you have to do is take Bluff Street pass the Red Hills Parkway until it turns into Highway 18. The parking lot will be on your left and is not hard to miss. The hiking area is also accessible by a bike route that runs alongside Highway 18. The hiking trail is relatively level, as it meanders through the red rock cliffs. Alongside the trail, you will see many local species of trees and shrubs.
The City Creek Trail
The City Creek Trail
The City Creek Trail roughly follows the Red Hills Parkway from near the Highway 18 junction all the way to the place where this hikers path joins up with the Owens Loop Trail. Though this trail borders a golf course for a ways and then cuts under some power lines, it still has a lot to offer the hiker.
It can be easily accessed from the parking lots at Pioneer Hills and Pioneer Park, as well as the bike path that runs alongside the Red Hills Parkway.
Owens Loop Trail
This trail along the top of the red sandstone cliffs that overlook the city will reward the hiker with a precious view of the entire metropolitan area. The trail is relatively level as it winds through all kinds of rock formations, then hugs the rim of the cliffs until coming out at the bluffs above Bluff Street.
The Owens Loop is a popular trail that can be found from the Red Hills Parkway bike path or the parking lot for Pioneer Park. Look for the trailhead on the south side of the parkway about a quarter mile up from Pioneer Park.
The Mojave Desert Tortoise Is Declining
Bike Trail Through Hell Hole Canyon
Like many towns and cities in Utah, St. George has an elaborate and well-maintained system of bicycle trails that will take you all over the city. Every hiking trail described here is easily accessible from the bike path that runs along the Red Hills Parkway.
Please note that the Hell Hole Canyon bike path, pictured below, is not part of this system. It is situated just east of the town of Washington on Highway 9, but is well worth the visit because of the manner that the paved trail curves through the rugged terrain. Hikers might also enjoy going here, if they don't mind walking along the asphalt path.
Since St. George is situated in the southwest corner of the state only 125 miles from Las Vegas, Nevada, it should be noted that summertime can bring on some torrid hot days, where temperatures can soar above 110 degrees Fahrenheit. These are days, when you definitely want to start your hike early and end early....or you may want to postpone your outdoor activities until cooler weather arrives.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
Harry Nielsen (author) from Durango, Colorado on June 28, 2017:
As kids we were taken hiking on the AT in Maryland. Though it was very easy hiking through second growth forest, we enjoyed it a lot.
Poppy from Enoshima, Japan on June 27, 2017:
The USA has some great spots for hiking. I particularly liked Virginia and Tennessee, but I haven't been to Utah yet. I'll add these to my list. Thanks!