Hiking Ashdown Gorge - Cedar Canyon, Southern Utah
Planning on hiking the narrows, but heard how crowded it is? One of the best things about Southern Utah is the variety of watery hikes outside of Zion that few people ever try because so many are fixated on the National Park.
This hike can be done as a 6-10 mile day hike, a quick out and back with kids, or it can be done as a backpacking overnighter from Cedar Breaks.
Make sure not to miss the two spectacular waterfalls hidden along the trail!!!
According to All Trails this is an 8.8 mile hike if you go out and back, however, it can be lengthened to go all the way to Cedar Breaks for 10 miles one way. The main area that most people are aiming for is a wide open section of the canyon after the slots with a tall spire in the middle of it. This is a great turn around point.
WITH OR WITHOUT KIDS?
Kids will love this hike because of the many safe boulders to climb on and the logs they can cross back and forth over the creek. This is also a pet-friendly hike, so Fido can come along.
Near the beginning of the hike there’s a waterfall made by a dam that’s fun to climb around on and about 10-15 minutes into the hike an old rusted firetruck that fell from the windy road above probably 40 years ago is fun for kids to check out. Look for this nestled in the bushes on the right side of the trail.
Little kids will need to be carried a fair amount on this hike because of the uneven ground and crossing back and forth through the creek. In the late summer the creek is low and in some places no more than a few inches deep.
Travel to Cedar City then take highway 14 up cedar canyon. There will be a large gravel parking lot on the left side of the road about 10 minutes outside of town. Park at the concrete barriers and look for a trail entrance heading down the hill on a 4x4 like road.
The roads are all paved and any car can make it to this spot. You will lose cell reception as soon as you leave Cedar City, so keep that in mind when making plans to hike this area. Carrying an emergency beacon is recommended due to the remoteness of this location. The road between Cedar City and Cedar Breaks is well traveled, so help will never be too far away.
WHEN TO GO
This hike is best done when the temperatures are warmer because you will get wet. There is no avoiding wet feet and in some cases if the water is high, you might reach knee and waist deep water.
Pay close attention to any flash flood warnings and don’t plan this hike if the conditions are stormy. Weather around Zion can be very different then Cedar City, so make sure you are checking the appropriate location.
The start of Ashdown Gorge trail has a steep entry, but don’t let this discourage you to not do this trail as the rest of the hike is a very gradual climb up the canyon. The hardest part of this hike is negotiating over boulders and logs.
This will come to some rocks you switch back and head down to the creek. Walk in the creek up toward Cedar Breaks traveling upstream. This is an out & back so you can go as far as you are comfortable.
There are a few highlights on this trail that you’ll appreciate. First the slot canyon section is really pretty and the light in it really varies depending on when you are hiking it. Try to time your hike for a return in the late afternoon so you can catch some of the beautiful shadows and golden colors on the canyon walls. Look for water holes that are both manmade from little rock dams and natural pools due to large boulders and logs diverting water. There are spots that can be waist and chest deep, which are a perfect cool down on a hot day.
Make sure to mark Flanigan Arch on your GPS as you head up. This is a small arch high up on the left about 45 minutes into the hike. Also, once you reach the wide open section of the canyon, look for a little offshoot creek to the left. If you hike about ten minutes up the creek past Flanigan Arch you’ll come to a fork in the trail off to your left. Hike up the fork about ½ mile to two amazing waterfalls.
Scroll down for tips and additional info.
GOOD TO KNOW
No permits or fees are needed to hike this trail.
No water fill stations at trailhead so make sure to bring plenty of water.
Trailhead is located 10 miles from a convenience store.
TIPS AND ADDITIONAL INFO
This trail get’s regular flash floods. Pay close attention to the weather upstream.
The trail changes frequently due to flash floods, so even if you have done this trail once, it may look quite different a few weeks later.
If you want to make it a downhill hike, park one car at the parking lot, then travel up to Cedar Breaks and you can hike 10 miles downhill. This is usually done as a backpacking overnighter.
Leashed dogs are permitted....yay!
In the summer, wear hiking sandals or good hiking shoes. The terrain is sandy, rocky and uneven. Hiking sandals will come in handy for playing in and hiking up the stream.
I hiking pole is always a good idea to help you navigate the water crossings.
As always bring plenty of snacks, sunscreen, and water.
If you are staying in Hurricane or La Verkin it is a quick 1 hour drive. If you are in Cedar City is is 10-15 minutes up the canyon. If you are staying in Springdale it will be a 1 hour 15 minute drive.
Practice Leave No Trace principals. Do not mark on the rocks and always pack it out!!!
Don’t want to navigate Ashdown Gorge on your own? You can book this hike with Wild Utah Tours and have an experienced guide take you.