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Category: Hiking Guides

There are many tools for finding hiking trails, but they’re often crowd-sourced and incomplete. Why not use a hiking guide written by an expert?

Skip to this page to see all of our hiking guides as markers on an interactive map (or as a list).

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Hiking Guide: Delta Lake

Overview

Delta Lake is a stunning body of water found high in the Grand Tetons. There is no official trail to the lake, which makes reaching it a difficult venture for the unwary.

If you have the experience and navigational know-how to locate this alpine jewel, you will be rewarded with panoramic views of turquoise waters, ancient glaciers, and towering peaks.

The lake’s exquisite color is due to the presence of glacial flour (aka rock flour) suspended in its icy waters. This powdery silt is deposited into the lake by two glaciers – Teepe Glacier and Teton Glacier.

From the lake, much of Teton Glacier is hidden from view by an impressive moraine (glacial debris) deposited below, though the upper portion of it can be seen.

From left to right, Teepe Pillar, Grand Teton, and East Prong dominate the landscape. Grand Teton itself is 13,776 feet while the lake sits at 9,016 feet, leaving you gaping up at an impressive 4,760 feet of prominence from Delta’s shores.

I’ll be straight with you: This is one of the most scenic alpine lakes you will ever see – if you can find it.

Delta Lake is downright exquisite
Delta Lake is downright exquisite

The fastest and most direct route is to start at Lupine Meadows Trailhead and take the Amphitheater Lake Trail to a “secret” turnoff at the end of the sixth switchback.

Lupine Meadows Trailhead

Even though the turnoff to Delta Lake has no signage, there is a well-worn, narrow trail, along with cairns and ribbons to lead the way through talus slopes and off-trail portions.

Quick Facts

  • Distance: 8 miles
  • Hike Time: 4-5 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 2,300 feet
  • Fee: $35 for a 7-day pass to Grand Teton National Park
  • Dogs: No
  • Difficulty: Hard

Hiking to Delta Lake

I parked at Lupine Meadows Trailhead on a Wednesday at 8:30 am. By this point, the lot was mostly full with a few open spaces.

After 0.4 miles of flats, the trail begins a somewhat gradual ascent. This comfortable grade nets you about 300 feet over one mile. From this point on, the hiking is steep.

Looking down at Bradley Lake from the Lupine Meadow Trail
Looking down at Bradley and Taggart Lakes from the Lupine Meadow Trail

The first switchback starts 1.8 miles in from the trailhead. Unless you’re following a GPX track, I’d suggest counting switchbacks so you don’t miss the turnoff at the sixth switchback like I did.

I continued for over a mile in the wrong direction, but I don’t regret it in the least. I made it to Platform Campsites before turning around. Along the way, I was awestruck by the views in Garnet Canyon.

The Grand Teton from Garnet Canyon
The Grand Teton from Garnet Canyon

Unless you’re in the mood to explore Garnet Canyon, make sure to bear right at the sixth switchback. There is a sign at this junction that indicates the mileage to Amphitheater Lake.

Once you hit the first switchback after the junction, bear right over the railroad ties and continue north onto the dirt path.

There are a few ribbons tied to trees along the way. Follow these!
There are a few ribbons tied to trees along the way. Follow these!

If you miss this, you are well on your way to Amphitheater Lake! Otherwise, congratulations – Delta Lake is only 0.8 miles of strenuous uphill hiking from where you are.

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Stay vigilant and you should have no problem following the “off-trail” route to the lake. The first half is a dirt path that traverses the mountainside before giving way to a less-navigable talus slope.

The final stretch to Delta Lake is the steepest
The final stretch to Delta Lake is the steepest

Although the route can be difficult to navigate and the trail is steep and strenuous, the prize for your effort is one of the most picturesque lakes in the Grand Tetons and beyond!

Indian paintbrush (Wyoming's state flower) next to Delta Lake
Indian paintbrush (Wyoming’s state flower) next to Delta Lake

Delta Lake

Map

Location

Lupine Meadows Trailhead is located at the end of a dirt road off of Teton Park Road (to the left), 8.6 miles from the turnoff on U.S. Highway 191.

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Photos

Glacial meltwater flowing beneath boulders in Garnet Canyon
Glacial meltwater flows down Garnet Canyon
Looking down on Taggart Lake from Garnet Canyon
Looking down on Taggart Lake from Garnet Canyon

Yellow wildflowers next to the trail

Blue wildflowers next to the trail

More Great Hikes in Grand Teton National Park

Hiking Guide: Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point

Overview

Hidden Falls is a magnificent 100-foot waterfall on Cascade Creek in the Grand Tetons. It’s found near the bottom of Cascade Canyon.

The fastest approach is to ride a shuttle boat across Jenny Lake and hike 0.6 miles to Hidden Falls from Jenny Lake Trailhead, where the boat drops you off.

Hidden Falls
Hidden Falls

Jenny Lake Boating operates the shuttle service and charges $18 for an adult roundtrip ticket. Boats leaves the dock every 10-15 minutes and aren’t reservable.

If you miss the last boat back (at 7pm) or purchase a one-way ticket, you can return via a 2-mile hike around the east side of the lake.

I highly recommend hiking up to Inspiration Point after seeing Hidden Falls. It’s 0.5 miles and 200 feet elevation gain from the waterfall and gives you a fabulous view of Jenny Lake and Teewinot Mountain.

The view of Jenny Lake from Inspiration Point
The view of Jenny Lake from Inspiration Point

Quick Facts

  • Distance: 1.9 miles
  • Hike Time: 2 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 400 feet
  • Fee: $35 for a 7-day pass to Grand Teton National Park, $18 for an adult roundtrip Jenny Lake Boating shuttle
  • Dogs: No
  • Difficulty: Easy

Hiking the Trail to Hidden Falls and Inspiration Point

We got to Jenny Lake Visitor Center at 2:30pm on a Monday and the parking lot was full, but we found a space to parallel park along the road in.

There was some confusion among other groups about where to walk to get to the boat dock. We had been here earlier in the week, so we had a vague idea of where to go.

Maia next to the Jenny Lake Boat Shuttle sign
Maia next to the Jenny Lake Boat Shuttle sign

There was a sign pointing toward the asphalt path heading north, so we followed it. Once we got to the lake, we bore left and found the dock (to our right) within a few minutes.

In hindsight, the path to the east of the visitor center is a more direct approach.

We purchased our tickets at the dock and waited in line for 15 minutes of so, then boarded the arriving boat after its passengers got off.

In my opinion, the boat ride itself is worth the money! It’s a fun experience to zoom across Jenny Lake and take in immense views of the Grand Tetons.

Kim and Maia on the boat shuttle
Kim and Maia on the boat shuttle

Once you get off the boat, bear left and follow the trail through the forest, 0.6 miles to Hidden Falls. The trail has a moderate incline and it’s just enough to get your heart pumping.

Columbine wildflowers next to the trail
Columbine wildflowers next to the trail
Our little family in front of Hidden Falls
Our little family in front of Hidden Falls

From Hidden Falls, backtrack to the most recent junction and bear left to continue 0.5 miles to Inspiration Point. This is a great place to do lunch!

The trail to Inspiration Point is steep and exposed, so be careful!
The trail to Inspiration Point is steep and exposed, so be careful!

You can continue up Cascade Canyon Trail for miles and miles if you want, but remember the last boat leaves at 7pm. If you miss it, you are not out of luck though. There’s a 2-mile trail that goes around the eastern edge of Jenny Lake and returns to the visitor center.

Kim poses at Inspiration Point
Kim poses at Inspiration Point

Map

Location

Whether you ride the boat shuttle to Jenny Lake Trailhead or hike the whole way there, you will start at Jenny Lake Visitor Center. It’s located off of Teton Park Road (to the left), 7.9 miles from the turnoff on U.S. Highway 191.

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Photos

Kim and Maia pose in front of Teewinot Mountain
Kim and Maia pose in front of Teewinot Mountain
Jenny Lake from Inspiration Point
Jenny Lake from Inspiration Point
Hidden Falls
Hidden Falls
Teewinot Mountain from Inspiration Point
Teewinot Mountain from Inspiration Point
Another view of Teewinot Mountain
Another view of Teewinot Mountain
Cascade Creek
Cascade Creek

More Great Hikes in Grand Teton National Park

Hiking Guide: Taggart and Bradley Lakes

Overview

Taggart and Bradley are natural lakes in the Grand Tetons, formed by glaciers that have melted since the last ice age, the Pleistocene Epoch.

Taggart is found at the terminus of Avalanche Canyon and Bradley at the terminus of Garnet Canyon, below Bannock Falls.

Taggart Lake sits at an elevation of 6,902 feet
Taggart Lake sits at an elevation of 6,902 feet

Both lakes are picturesque and easy to access. Taggart is a short 1.6-mile hike from Taggart Lake Trailhead and Bradley is 1.7 miles from Taggart Lake via Valley Trail.

Valley Trail sign

There is a 1-mile connector trail that brings you back from Bradley Lake to a junction. From here, hike 1 mile back to the trailhead to finish the loop.

Bradley Lake sits at an elevation of 7,027 feet
Bradley Lake sits at an elevation of 7,027 feet

Quick Facts

  • Distance: 5.4 miles
  • Hike Time: 3 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 600 feet
  • Fee: $35 for a 7-day pass to Grand Teton National Park
  • Dogs: No
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Hiking the Trail to Taggart and Bradley Lakes

We got to Taggart Lake Trailhead at 6pm on a Sunday and the parking lot had plenty of spaces. During our weeklong stay in the Tetons, we drove past this trailhead several times. This was the least busy we had seen it.

Even from the trailhead, there are tremendous views of iconic Teton peaks, with the Middle Teton stealing the show.

Kim next to the Taggart Lakes Trailhead sign
Kim next to the Taggart Lakes Trailhead sign

The trail begins as flat hardpack through a meadow. At 0.6 miles, you begin to ascend a steeper portion after crossing a bridge over Taggart Creek.

The Middle Teton framed by trees along Taggart Creek
The Middle Teton framed by trees along Taggart Creek

At 1.2 miles, you will reach a junction with a sign. From here, head straight to follow 0.5 miles of mostly flat trail to Taggart Lake or bear right to ascend a steep 1-mile jaunt to Bradley Lake.

The junction for Taggart and Bradley Lakes
The junction for Taggart and Bradley Lakes

We opted to go directly to Taggart Lake from this point, then followed the trail 1.6 miles further to Bradley Lake. We then returned to the signed junction via the aforementioned 1-mile trail.

Bradley Lake in the late evening
Bradley Lake in the late evening

It took us 3 hours to do the whole loop, including a 15-minute stop at Taggart Lake and 30 minutes at Bradley Lake.

We saw lots of Indian paintbrush (Wyoming's state flower) along the trail
We saw lots of Indian paintbrush (Wyoming’s state flower) along the trail
We caught another glimpse of Taggart Lake on the hike down from Bradley Lake
We caught another glimpse of Taggart Lake on the hike down from Bradley Lake

Map

Location

The trailhead is located off of Teton Park Road (to the left), 3.5 miles from the turnoff on U.S. Highway 191.

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Photos

Maia took a nap during our hike between the lakes
Maia took a nap during our hike between the lakes
Hiking in the Grand Tetons is pure bliss!
Hiking in the Grand Tetons is pure bliss!
Maia had a great time playing in the water at Bradley Lake
Maia had a great time playing in the water at Bradley Lake
I don't recognize this wildflower. Can you help me identify it?
I don’t recognize this wildflower. Can you help me identify it?
Sticky geranium
Sticky geranium
Looking back at Taggart Lake on the hike up to Bradley Lake
Looking back at Taggart Lake on the hike up to Bradley Lake
Another angle of Bradley Lake
Another angle of Bradley Lake
More Indian paintbrush
More Indian paintbrush
Sunset from Taggart Lake Trailhead
Sunset from Taggart Lake Trailhead

More Great Hikes in Grand Teton National Park

Hiking Guide: Upper and Lower Lola Montez Lakes

Overview

The hike to Upper and Lower Lola Montez Lakes features a moderate climb to the first lake and a more advanced, technical scramble up to the second. The trailhead for this hike is best found by the number of other vehicles parked along the road near its entrance.

Going earlier will definitely mean less competition for parking. The hike up to the first lake features a combination of single-track trail and dirt roads, so don’t be surprised if you see a 4×4 vehicle or two along these sections of road. It is best used from April to September.

Quick Facts

  • Distance: 8.5 miles, Out and Back
  • Hike Time: 4-5 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 1,500 feet
  • Fee: None
  • Dogs: Yes, On-Leash
  • Difficulty: Moderate to Advanced

Hiking the Trail to Upper and Lower Lola Montez Lakes

Despite the large number of cars parked on the road when we arrived, I was pleasantly surprised by how few people we actually encountered.

A Good Mix of Sun and Shade on the Trail. PC Tucker Ballister
A Good Mix of Sun and Shade on the Trail. PC Tucker Ballister

This is a multi-use trail for mountain biking and horseback riding. Many of the cars parked at the trailhead may have been bikers just getting started on a longer section of the Hole In The Ground Trail, of which this trail is the beginning section.

The hike up to Lower Lola Montez Lake starts on a single-track trail through dense forest. It pops out onto a private dirt road within the first mile, so be careful to make this right and stick to the road at this crossing instead of continuing on the single track.

After this, you will encounter two more crossings between the road and the trail. All in all, you’ll go from trail to road, back to trail, and then to the road again before following it all the way to where it turns into trail once more. Fortunately, each of these first three crossings requires that you STAY RIGHT from trail-to-road, road-to-trail, and trail-back-to-road, respectively.

During the spring months, there is a small river crossing within the first mile-and-a-half of the hike in. Some folks prefer to do this hike in Chacos or something like these Earth Runners Cadence Adventure Sandals. There is a rock-hop-crossing on the left side of the trail, and I generally recommend taking shoes off and crossing barefoot as opposed to getting your shoes wet this early into any hike.

You will find running and/or standing water at several spots throughout the hike in during the spring months. This does have the unfortunate blessing of making this a rather mosquito-filled hike during the early part of the year. Bring the bug spray and make sure to reapply after you go swimming in the lake!

The hike up to the lower lake is ideal for dogs, although it is recommended to keep your furry companion on-leash. Don’t be surprised if you run into other hikers or bikers with off-leash dogs.

The Pup Enjoying Some Lakeside Shenanigans. PC Tucker Ballister
The Pup Enjoying Some Lakeside Shenanigans. PC Tucker Ballister

When you reach Lower Lola Montez Lake, there will be a large, open area where many folks have camped in the past. At the shoreline to the west of this spot, there’s a large rock that’s great for sunbathing or jumping into the lake to cool off.

The “trail” that leads up to the upper lake skirts to the right and around the northwest edge of the lake. There are several other potential camping spots along this side of the lake. Once the trail turns away from the lake and begins heading further uphill, you’ll be in for another climb.

At this point, the ‘trail’ peters out and you’ll need to follow the rock cairns that have been respectfully set by those that have come before you. From here, I no longer recommend bringing your dog unless he or she is small enough to be carried up the more technical sections.

Example of Cairns Marking “Trail” Between Lakes. PC Tucker Ballister
Example of Cairns Marking “Trail” Between Lakes. PC Tucker Ballister

The total distance between the two lakes is about 1.5 miles, but don’t be surprised if it takes you longer than expected to make the climb to the upper lake. It’s considerably more technical than the lower section of the hike and you’ll need to take your time to make sure you’re following the rock cairns carefully.

Once you make it to the upper lake, there are many great rocks for jumping off of or sunbathing on. There’s a rough 4×4 road that goes up to the upper lake from the North, so don’t be surprised if you see a couple of car camping groups up there when you arrive.

After lounging and enjoying a swim in the upper lake (perhaps while wearing your Rheos Gear Floating Sunglasses), you’ll simply need to retrace your steps back down to the lower lake and onto the trail home!

Map

Location

The trailhead is located off of I-80 at Exit 174 to Soda Springs/Norden. The closest town is Soda Springs, California. If coming from the east, turn right off the exit and make your first right onto Sherritt Lane. From the west, turn left off the exit and cross over the highway before making your right onto Sherritt.

Go past the fire station on your right and the trailhead will be on the left about 500 yards down the road. If you come to the gate at the end of the road, you’ve gone about 100 yards past the trailhead.

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Photos

Meadow Off Right Side of Trail Just Before Reaching the Lower Lake. PC Tucker Ballister
Meadow Off Right Side of Trail Just Before Reaching the Lower Lake. PC Tucker Ballister
Lower Lola Montez Lake. PC Tucker Ballister
Lower Lola Montez Lake. PC Tucker Ballister
Upper Lola Montez Lake. PC Tucker Ballister
Upper Lola Montez Lake. PC Tucker Ballister

More Great Hikes Near Upper and Lower Lola Montez Lakes

There are almost TOO MANY great hikes in the Donner Summit area to name them all. But here are a few great selections within a 20-minute drive of the trail to Upper and Lower Lola Montez Lakes.

Hiking Guide: Bloods Lake

Overview

Bloods Lake is a lovely little lake in the Wasatch Mountains and one of the few dog-friendly hikes that can be accessed from the Cottonwood Canyons.

The trailhead is found about a mile east of the Guardsman Pass Overlook on the north side of Guardsman Pass Road.

It’s known for its quintessentially Wasatch pine and aspen forested scenery and summer wildflowers.

Because Salt Lake City gets its water from Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons, swimming in lakes is not allowed and almost every trail doesn’t allow dogs.

Note: Dogs are not allowed at Bloods Lake itself, so if you hike to it with your furry friend, be sure to turnaround once the lake is in sight.

Bloods Lake. July 2020
Bloods Lake. July 2020

Quick Facts

  • Distance: 3.1 miles
  • Hike Time: 2 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 345 feet
  • Fee: Free
  • Dogs: Yes
  • Difficulty: Easy

Hiking to Bloods Lake

From the parking lot, walk southwest and cross Guardsman Pass Road to reach the trail. The first half mile is a gentle descent.

About a mile into the hike, the incline steepens as you follow switchbacks up to the lake. Just remember, these don’t last long! Before you know it, you’ll be there.

Me (the author), Maia, and Arrow on the way to Bloods Lake
Me (the author), Maia, and Arrow on the way to Bloods Lake

Map

Location

From Salt Lake City, hop on the I-215 beltway and take exit 6 for 6200 South.

Continue east on 6200 South for 1.7 miles, then turn left onto Utah 190.

Continue for 17.9 miles (Utah 190 becomes Big Cottonwood Canyon Road then Guardsman Pass Road).

The parking lot is on the left.

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Photos

Bloods Lake just before sunset
Bloods Lake just before sunset
Aspens along the Bloods Lake Trail
Aspens along the Bloods Lake Trail

Want to hike Utah’s best trails? Check out our other Utah Hiking Guides.

Hiking Guide: Ibantik Lake

Overview

Nestled in a cirque at the base of Notch Mountain, Ibantik Lake is one of the Uinta Mountain’s finest destinations. Unlike a lot of Uinta hikes, it’s fairly short and unchallenging, which makes it perfect for a day hike or quick overnighter.

Ibantik is also easy to access and close to the Salt Lake metro area (a little over an hour). The most popular approach Is from Crystal Lake Trailhead, right off of the scenic Mirror Lake Highway.

When we visited in June 2020, we were greeted by a herd of mountain goats!

Ibantik Lake in the morning
Ibantik Lake in the morning. June 2020

Quick Facts

  • Distance: 7.8 miles round trip
  • Hike Time: 4 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 1,289 feet
  • Fee: $6 for a 3-day pass, $12 for a 7-day pass · Buy Online
  • Dogs: Yes
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Hiking to Ibantik Lake

From Crystal Lake Trailhead, follow the Notch Mountain Trail. Within a few minutes, the trail goes between two lakes. The left one is Ponds Lake and the right one is Lily Lake.

Soon, the trail begins a gradual climb and reaches Wall Lake at the 1-mile mark. This is a popular cliff jumping spot.

Wall Lake. June 2015

About a half mile after reaching Wall Lake, the trail begins a steep ascent toward The Notch, a high-elevation pass at 10,600 feet. This is the highest point of the hike.

From this point, continue down the switchbacks past Lovenia Lake (to the right) and between a few ponds to Ibantik Lake, the final destination.

Notch Mountain and Ibantik Lake. June 2015
Notch Mountain and Ibantik Lake. June 2015

Map

Ibantik Lake route map

Location

From Salt Lake City, take I-80 eastbound.

2.2 miles after reaching Kimball Junction, take exit 146 for U.S. Route 40 east toward Heber City.

Continue for 3.2 miles, then take exit 4 onto U.S. Route 89 toward Kamas.

Continue for 11.4 miles, then turn left after 7-Eleven in Kamas onto Utah 32.

Continue for 0.2 miles, then turn right onto Utah 150.

Continue for 25.4 miles, then turn left onto Forest Road 041.

Continue for 1.3 miles to Crystal Lake Trailhead.

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Resources

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Photos

A beautiful sunset at Lake Ibantik
A beautiful sunset at Lake Ibantik
Notch Mountain reflections on Ibantik lake at twilight
Notch Mountain reflections on Ibantik lake at twilight
Jason fishes the lake at sunset
Jason fishes the lake at sunset
A nearby pond
A nearby pond
A pond next to Notch Mountain Trail. June 2015
A pond next to Notch Mountain Trail. June 2015
A typical Uinta Mountain scene near Wall Lake. June 2015
A typical Uinta Mountain scene near Wall Lake. June 2015

Want to hike Utah’s best trails? Check out our other Utah Hiking Guides.

Hiking Guide: Grosvenor Arch

Overview

Grosvenor Arch is a one-of-a-kind double arch in Grand-Staircase Escalante National Monument. The arch’s trailhead is accessed from a side road of Cottonwood Canyon Road called Four Mile Bench Road.

The trail to Grosvenor Arch hardly qualifies as a hike. It’s less than 1/4 mile and the whole thing is paved. This is one of Utah’s best handicapped accessible natural arches.

The dirt parking lot has a pit toilet, a picnic table and room for a few large off-road vehicles.

This unusual arch is close to Kodachrome Basin State Park and is one of several wondrous features found along the scenic Cottonwood Canyon Road.

It’s named after Gilbert Hovey Grosvenor, former president of the National Geographic Society.

The sun casts its last light rays on Grosvenor Arch. May 2020
The sun casts its last light rays on Grosvenor Arch. May 2020

Quick Facts

  • Distance: 0.5 miles out and back
  • Hike Time: 15-20 minutes
  • Elevation Gain: 0 feet
  • Fee: Free
  • Dogs: Yes
  • Difficulty: Easy

Map

Get Directions

Location

From Kanab

There are no gas stations between Kanab and Grosvenor Arch, so make sure to fill up in town.

Take U.S. Route 89 southeast and follow it for 46.2 miles, then turn left onto Cottonwood Canyon Road.

Follow it for 29.2 miles, then turn right onto Four Mile Bench Road.

Follow it for 1 mile and park in the dirt lot.

From Tropic

Take Utah 12 south and follow it for 4.7 miles, then turn right onto Kodachrome Road.

Continue on Kodachrome Road for 2.6 miles, then instead of turning left toward the State Park, continue straight onto Cottonwood Canyon Road.

Follow it for 14.2 miles, then turn left onto Four Mile Bench Road.

Follow it for 1 mile and park in the dirt lot.

Resources

Topographic Maps

Links

Photos

Grosvenor Arch

Jason sports his trusty Fisher Beer cap in front of Grosvenor Arch
Jason sports his trusty Fisher Beer cap in front of Grosvenor Arch
Justin and the arch
Justin and the arch
Justin (left) and Rachel (right). The "friend lighting" was terrific during golden hour
Justin (left) and Rachel (right). The “friend lighting” was terrific during golden hour
Maggie and the arch
Maggie and the arch

More Great Hikes Near Kanab


Want to hike Utah’s best trails? Check out our other Utah Hiking Guides.

Hiking Guide: Red Hollow Trail

Overview

Directly east of Cedar City, there is a prominent red hill that forms a stark contrast against the forested mountains that surround it.

Behind it runs Red Hollow Trail, which is actually a series of mountain bike trails.

The hike can be accessed from Center Street (once it heads up the canyon) or Thunderbird Gardens on 900 North.

While Red Hollow’s scenery is not as stunning as more well-known parks nearby (e.g. Cedar Breaks, Zion, and Bryce), its views provide a glimpse of what Southern Utah has to offer.

Plus, it’s a kid-friendly, dog-friendly hike that’s less than 10 minutes from “Festival City USA”.

Tip: After the hike, continue 3.5 miles up Highway 14 and dine at Milt’s Stage Shop.

Looking down on Thunderbird Gardens from a perch along Red Hollow Trail
Looking down on Thunderbird Gardens from a perch along Red Hollow Trail

Quick Facts

  • Distance:  3 miles out and back
  • Hike Time: 2 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 660 feet
  • Fee: Free
  • Dogs: Yes
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Hiking the Red Hollow Trail

From Red Hollow Trailhead, follow the trail northward as it ascends the canyon.

Red Hollow Trailhead
Red Hollow Trailhead

When we did this hike in May 2020, there were copious wildflowers on display, including firecracker penstemon, Indian paintbrush, and claret cup cactus.

Indian paintbrush
Indian paintbrush

For the first 3/4 miles, the trail has a 10% grade. Once you reach the saddle, there is a junction.

The trail furthest to the right takes you up to Thor’s Hideout. Any of the other trails ultimately lead to the same place, Thunderbird Garden Trailhead.

From the saddle, the trails gradually descend for about a mile before reaching Thunderbird Garden.

Strange sandstone formations
Strange sandstone formations

Map

Location

Red Hollow Trail is located on the north side of Utah State Route 14 at the mouth of Cedar Canyon.

From I-15 exit 59 in Cedar City, follow 200 N for 0.9 miles, then turn right onto Main Street.

Continue on Main Street for 0.2 miles, then turn left onto Center Street.

Continue on Center Street for 1.5 miles and park on the left in the dirt lot.

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Resources

Links

Photos

From left to right: Maia, Max (the author), Kim
From left to right: Maia, Max (the author), Kim
Looking south from just above Thunderbird Gardens
Looking south from just above Thunderbird Gardens
Hiking as a family is the best!
Hiking as a family is the best!

Want to hike Utah’s best trails? Check out our other Utah Hiking Guides.

Red Reef Trail Hiking Guide

Overview

Red Reef Trail is one of the most popular hikes in Red Cliffs Desert Reserve, a swath of desert lands set aside to protect desert tortoises (among other things).

The trailhead is found at Red Cliffs Campground, which is less than two miles from Harrisburg, Utah.

Red Reef Trail follows Quail Creek up a delightful red rock canyon that has flowing water and swimming holes during snowmelt and after significant rainfall.

To get there, you’ll drive through a culvert underneath I-15, then up a paved road. The day use parking lot is undersized and often full.

Often times, the rangers open the parking lot at White Reef Trailhead for overflow use. If you’re up for it, this adds a 3.4-mile walk to the route in total.

A small waterfall and shallow pool along Red Reef Trail
A small waterfall and shallow pool along Red Reef Trail

Quick Facts

  • Distance: 1.5 miles out and back
  • Hike Time: 1-2 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 135 feet
  • Fee: Free
  • Dogs: Yes
  • Difficulty: Easy

Hiking the Red Reef Trail

Most people turn around at the main attraction, which is a swimmable pool and 6-foot waterfall next to Moki steps and a fixed rope.

Every time I’ve visited, the rope has looked pretty tattered. Please use it at your own risk! Luckily, someone does seem to replace it every few years.

Moki steps are hand and toe holds that are carved into the soft sandstone to aid with climbing. It’s unclear whether these ones were left by the Ancestral Puebloans or put here more recently.

Kim uses the rope and Moki steps to climb up and around
Kim uses the rope and Moki steps to climb up and around

There is a great example of these in Red Canyon Slot, another great hike in the region.

If you’re feeling adventurous, continue up the canyon by following the windy Quail Creek.

Desert four o’clock wildflower blooms along the trail
Desert four o’clock wildflower blooms along the trail

There are multiple rockfalls and pourovers that have limited my exploration of this drainage, but if you’re experienced in canyoneering I’m sure there is a lot to see.

Red Cliffs Desert Reserve’s website has a detailed description of what you might encounter, although it might be out of date.

Arrow trots through a calm and serene pool in the Quail Creek drainage
Arrow trots through a calm and serene pool in the Quail Creek drainage

Map

Location

Red Reef Trailhead is located at the northwestern side of Red Cliffs Campground.

From St. George, get on I-15 northbound and follow it 9 miles. Take exit 16 to merge onto Utah State Route 9.

Continue for 2.8 miles, then turn left onto Utah State Route 318.

Continue for 3 miles, then turn right onto Old Highway 91.

Continue for 0.3 miles, then turn left.

Drive through the culvert underneath I-15, then turn left.

Follow the paved road 1.3 miles to Red Reef Campground and park in the day use lot.

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Resources

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Photos

Southern Utahns play in the water on a warm spring evening
Southern Utahns play in the water on a warm spring evening
A gnarled cottonwood near the start of Red Reef Trail
A gnarled cottonwood near the start of Red Reef Trail
Kim poses in front of the gnarled cottonwood
Kim poses in front of the gnarled cottonwood
Indigo bush wildflower blooms
Indigo bush wildflower blooms
Palmer's penstemon wildflower blooms
Palmer’s penstemon wildflower blooms
Red rock formations at the canyon's entrance
Red rock formations at the canyon’s entrance
This alcove is a pleasant place to eat a snack
This alcove is a pleasant place to eat a snack
Ancient pictographs in an alcove above the canyon floor
Ancient pictographs in an alcove above the canyon floor
Max (the author) poses in a cottonwood stump
Max (the author) poses in a cottonwood stump

More Great Hikes Near St. George


Want to hike Utah’s best trails? Check out our other Utah Hiking Guides.

Bear Gulch Cave Hiking Guide

Note: In response to COVID-19, Bear Gulch Cave is closed to visitation. For more info visit the official Pinnacles National Park site.

Overview

This short hike takes you through Bear Gulch Cave, a cave formed by giant talus boulders that have fallen on top of a ravine.

The cave is probably the most popular attraction in Pinnacles, one of California’s least visited national parks. (It received fewer than 200,000 visitors in 2019).

Its home to several bat colonies, so the park service closes half of the cave on a rolling schedule. However, for 10 months out of the year, you can enter the cave.

View Cave Status

Hiking through the cave doesn’t require any technical gear or experience with spelunking, but you’ll want a headlamp.

Note: You’ll want your hands free to scramble, so a headlamp works better than a flashlight for this hike.

Black Diamond Spot Headlamp

Black Diamond Spot Headlamp

If you get claustrophobic, DO NOT enter this cave. There’s a section that requires squatting and even crawling to get through. Also, plan on getting your feet wet as there is flowing water in the cave.

Maia enters Bear Gulch Cave. Mar 2020
Maia enters Bear Gulch Cave. Mar 2020

Quick Facts

  • Distance: 1.5 miles out and back
  • Hike Time: 1-2 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 240 feet
  • Fee: $30 per vehicle or America the Beautiful Pass
  • Dogs: No
  • Difficulty: Easy

Hiking Bear Gulch Cave

The hike starts at Bear Creek Picnic Area, a small paved parking lot that has a toilet and well-shaded picnic tables.

Follow the trail on the southwest side of the lot as it meanders through the forest above Moses Creek.

After 0.1 miles, you’ll come to a junction. Bear left to continue to the cave.

If there’s someone in your party that’s uncomfortable with going through the cave, they can bear right and meet up with you on the other side via High Peaks Trail and the Rim Trail.

You’ll pass through a couple short tunnels before entering the cave. When we walked through in March 2020, I joked that this was our practice run.

The cave has a dramatic entrance with moss-covered rocks and a babbling creek. Occasionally, there are rails to assist you and steps carved into the rock.

Bear Gulch Cave

Some parts of the cave have stairs and a railing
Some parts of the cave have stairs and a railing

Halfway through, there was a junction where we turned right. This is where the cave walls got narrower and the ceiling lower. We could tell our 2-year-old was a bit nervous, but with our help she made it through just fine.

You’ll feel a great sense of accomplishment and relief when you exit the cave on the other side.

After climbing a series of stairs, Bear Gulch Reservoir comes into view. It’s a beautiful site, surrounded by rock formations that form the national park’s namesake – pinnacles.

Bear Gulch Reservoir
Bear Gulch Reservoir

If you have the time, I suggest continuing to the right, up the Rim Trail. After 0.5 miles, bear left onto High Peaks Trail and hike uphill until you’re ready to turnaround.

Up above, on the flanks of Scout Peak, there are great views and wonderful places to stop and eat lunch.

Kim takes in the view from just above the reservoir
Kim takes in the view from just above the reservoir, sporting her Knack Pack

Condors frequently fly in this area, so be sure to keep an eye out for them. When we went, we were lucky enough to see a couple!

A light lunch accompanied with condor sightings. It doesn't get any better
A light lunch accompanied with condor sightings. It doesn’t get any better

To get back to the parking lot (and avoid going through the cave again), you can follow High Peaks Trail all the way back.

Map

Location

From Hollister, get onto California State Route 25 and continue for 28.2 miles.

Take a slight right onto Pinnacles Highway (CA-146) and continue for 3.8 miles, past the East Entrance Station.

Turn left on the next road and continue 1.4 miles to a small parking lot.

Get Directions

Resources

Links

Photos

Pinnacles National Park - High Peaks Trail
Pinnacles National Park – High Peaks Trail. Mar 2020

Pinnacles National Park - High Peaks Trail

Pinnacles National Park - High Peaks Trail