Hiking The Red Reef Trail - Southern Utah
Red Reef Trail is a hike that I take just about everyone who comes to visit me on......with or without kids. Even before I was really into spending my days in the outdoors this was a hike that I would do often with friends, family, and even by myself.
I did this hike with my senior prom date for goodness sake! With an amazing desert backdrop, towering red rock walls, arches, petroglyphs, rock caves to crawl through, tree stumps that look like elephants, trees that look like snakes, and pools for swimming in (if the stream is running) this hike is one that you do not want to miss when visiting Southern Utah.
3 miles round trip
This is an easy family friendly hike with very little elevation gain. The only spot along the trail that isn't easy for some is the rope/climbing area near the end. This section can be scary and difficult for children and adults who are nervous of heights. If you are hiking with a baby on your back this can also be a difficult area to navigate. (see my tips below for hiking with a baby)
This trail is located in the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area. Bring your national park pass to get in with or pay $5 at the self-pay station. The trailhead is located between Hurricane & Saint George and just 5 minutes north-west of Quail Lake Reservoir. Click here for a map and driving directions.
The trail is sandy and at times rocky but clearly marked. Make sure to take plenty of time to stop along the trail and explore. Near the beginning of the trail, you will come to a tree stump that looks a bit like an elephant. (I know it's tempting but be careful not to climb on the tree. It is delicate.)
HIRE A PHOTOGRAPHER IN ZION + SOUTHERN UTAH - CLICK TO LEARN MORE
Go a little ways further and there is a great spot to climb up through a rock tunnel. Continue hiking for a bit and you will come to an amazing tree with sprawling branches that my kids call the snake tree. It is a great tree for climbing. If you follow the dry (or wet) stream bed you will come to a pool of water.
When the water is flowing this is a great spot to climb the rocks and jump into the water. You can climb the trail up from here or go back and follow a rocky trail up. Once at the upper section of the trail you can sit on a bench, eat a snack and take in the beauty.
Walk on and look for an arch in the rock wall straight ahead. If you hike up to the arch you can see some petroglyphs on the ceiling to the left side of the arch. Continue on the trail and the red cliff walls will close in creating a red rock surround that will leave you in awe.
It is so beautiful you guys! If you feel comfortable climbing the rope section there is a little more exploring to do past this section and if you are truly adventurous you can climb the red rocks straight up to the very top. Scroll through for tips and additional info.
GOOD TO KNOW
There are bathrooms and water at the trailhead
TIPS AND ADDITIONAL INFO
Bring your national park pass to get in with or pay $5 at the self-pay station.
There is a first come first serve campground in this area. Such an amazing spot to camp!
If you plan to hike with a baby on your back and you want to go on the rope climbing section make sure to bring a soft carrier baby pack. This will keep your center of gravity more even and make it easier to climb the rocks around.
This hike can get very congested and busy during spring break (March-April) and in the summer months. For your best chance of some solitude go in the offseason. (Oct-Mid March) Also going later in the day or first thing in the morning will increase your chances of beating the crowds.
There is a stream that runs along much of the trail in the spring and sometimes in the winter. The majority of the year it is dry.
Bring plenty of water, sunscreen, snacks and maybe even a change of clothes for the kids if you go in the spring when the water is flowing. They will get wet.
Wear good hiking shoes or hiking sandals with good grip.
Always practice Leave No Trace principals. If you take it in take it out. Take a cleanup bag on all your hikes and pick up as you go. Leave these beautiful places better than you found them.