Dixie National Forest Overview
The Dixie National Forest, with headquarters in Cedar City, Utah, occupies almost two million acres and stretches for about 170 miles across southern Utah. It straddles the divide between the Great Basin and the Colorado River. Three National Parks and two National Monuments are adjacent to the Forest. Below are the best hikes in Dixie National Forest; keep in mind the list does not include trails in Cedar Breaks National Monument which is surrounded by the forest.
The Forest is divided into four geographic areas. High altitude forests in gently rolling hills characterize the Markagunt, Pansaugunt, and Aquarius Plateaus. Boulder Mountain, one of the largest high-elevation plateaus in the United States, is dotted with hundreds of small lakes 10,000 to 11,000 feet above sea level. The scenic beauty for which these areas were set aside certainly prevails over much of the Forest. Red sandstone formations of Red Canyon rival those of Bryce Canyon National Park. Hell’s Backbone Bridge and the view into Death Hollow are breathtaking. From the top of Powell Point, it is possible to see for miles into three different states. Boulder Mountain and the many different lakes provide opportunities for hiking, fishing, and viewing outstanding scenery.
|Nearest Metro Area||St. George, UT|
|Area Size||1,889,106 acres|
|Established||September 25, 1905|
|Hiking Trails||1,600 miles|
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Trailhead Traveler’s Recommended Best Hikes in Dixie National Forest
(*** = Best hikes in Dixie National Forest)
Arches Trail*** – 0.7 mile loop
Named for its 15 small arches, this trail loops through a small red rock cove to the top of the cliffs. This is an exciting trail for all ages. Begin the loop at Losee Trailhead with the option of continuing on to Losee Canyon Trail.
Birdseye + Golden Wall Loop*** – 6.1 mile loop
This loop is a combination of several fantastic short trails all in the same area. Birdseye, Golden Wall, Red Canyon Bicycle, and Pink Ledges Trails are all worth exploring and are located next to each other. Birdseye takes you through the vivid orange and scarlet geologic formations known as hoodoos overlooking Highway 12, offering a birds eye view. This trail connects to both Photo Trail and Hoodoo Trail. While hiking the Golden Wall Trail, you can expect to see large ponderosa pines and golden rock walls amid beautiful red rock layers. Large areas of Red Canyon can be seen from special viewpoints along the trail. Castle Bridge Trail may also be included in this combination, which adds a scenic side trail with a little more difficulty without adding length.
The Box Trail – 8 miles one-way
A moderate hike that follows Pine Creek, a tributary of the Escalante River, through a lush steep-walled canyon. The trail descends through mixed conifer and into Ponderosa pines. Many stream crossings are required.
Cascade Falls Trail*** – 1.6 miles out and back
Named for the waterfall that flows out of the side of the cliff, this trail is a local favorite. The trail provides spectacular views of Zion National Park and beyond. The water that flows over the falls is supplied by Navajo Lake through an underground lava tube or sink hole. The water flows a couple miles underground through the tube before exiting at the Virgin River Rim.
Powell Point Trail – 1.8 miles out and back
A short hike through a mixed conifer forest, including bristlecone pines, to a 360 degree vista point. Powell Point on Table Cliff Plateau offers unique Wasatch Limestone Formation soils that provide habitat for rare plant species that are locally endemic to southern Utah. The ancient bristlecone pines at Powell Point have weathered millennia in this unique cushion plant community surrounded by steep cliffs, open escarpments and spectacular views.
Yant Flat Trail*** – 3.5 miles out and back
Gorgeous hike located within the boundaries but not managed by Dixie National Forest. On its way to the flats the trail is relatively easy. Once you arrive, the area is wide open to exploration. The multi-colored sandstone formations rival that of what Zion National Park has to offer.
Featured Image: Red Canyon, Dixie National Forest, Photo by Joseph Cesare
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