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Virgin River Rim Trail
Navajo Peak Section

The Virgin River Rim Trail (VRRT) is a 32-mile point-to-point ride on the high plateau east of Cedar City. See the VRRT trail page for information on the entire trail. The Navajo Peak section offers nice out-and-back or loop ride options. Many riders access the trail from the campgrounds at scenic Navajo Lake. The riding is intermediate in technical requirements but fairly strenuous aerobically because of the elevation. This is the most popular segment of the VRRT.

View south from pink limestone cliffs. Ride review by Bruce August 28, 2018.

This section runs 8.5 miles from the Cascade Falls viewpoint on the eastern end to Te-ah Campground west of Navajo Lake. There's access by car via improved roads at both ends. You can also reach the trail via connecting singletrack from campgrounds at Navajo Lake.

While most of the ride is smooth dirt, there are stretches with both embedded and loose rock. The climbing pace is reasonable with only occasional short stand-and-crank uphills. With the elevation above 9000 feet, unconditioned riders will find it aerobically taxing and may need frequent breaks.

Typical riding along the rim. Fairly open conifer forest with plenty of wildflowers and occasional groves of aspen.

The lowest elevation on this section is at Cascade Falls at 8900 feet. The western end at Navajo Lake is slightly higher at 9100. In between, there will be two summits: Between the Cascade Falls overlook and the Dike Trail is a 9800 foot mountain, and on Navajo Peak you'll reach the highest spot of the entire trail at 9900 feet.

Handlebar view as we traverse the slope on the side of Navajo Peak.

At the western end, access to this segment of the VRRT is via the Navajo Lake road (FR 053). The preferred trailhead is the Navajo Lake Loop trailhead -- west of the lake at 5.4 miles from Highway 14 -- where 0.4 miles of dirt road and 0.4 miles of paved road takes you to the VRRT just west of Te-ah campground. You can also connect to the VRRT from the Te-ah campground, from the Navajo Lake Lodge (through the Navajo Lake Loop trail), from the Navajo and Spruces campgrounds via connecting trails, or via the Dike trail after parking at the south end of the dike.

Navajo Lake Loop trailhead, with Navajo Lake in the background.

The eastern end of the Navajo Peak section of the VRRT is reached by driving to Cascade Falls and parking there. About 1/4 mile after you turn off Highway 14 on the Navajo Lake road, FR 370 forks left. 1.1 miles later, FR 054 forks to the right. It's 1.5 miles to the parking area for the Cascade Falls viewpoint. The VRRT crosses FR 054 near the parking strip.

Lots of riding similar to this drone shot between Navajo Peak and the Navajo Campground trail.

Sample ride:  Counterclockwise loop around Navajo Lake
The ride I'll describe here is 12.2 miles with 1400 vertical feet of climbing. It loops counterclockwise up the VRRT, through the Dike trail and back via the Navajo Lake Loop trail. Details for other options will be discussed as we reach these trails.

Park at the Navajo Lake Loop trailhead west of the lake. You'll be returning via the loop trail. The Marathon trail comes in from uphill, which is also not the trail you're looking for. Backtrack along the doubletrack 0.4 miles to the paved road. Turn right and pedal uphill 0.4 miles uphill past Te-ah campground and turn left to enter the singletrack VRRT. This bit of the trail is also used as part of the Navajo Lake loop.

Climbing uphill as we head away from the road. on the counterclockwise ride.

From the paved road, go uphill 1.5 miles. The climbing pace is reasonable as you gain 200 vertical feet. At the trail fork, keep right and uphill to stay on the VRRT.

The Navajo Lake Loop trail -- the left fork -- takes you back downhill to the Navajo Lake Lodge area, then continues past the Navajo and Spruces campgrounds. The westbound Navajo Lake Loop trail can be your uphill and/or return path if you're camping anywhere along the south side of the lake.

Climbing toward the rim after passing the Navajo Lake Loop trail fork.

The trail now turns south and slowly climbs to the Virgin Rim. Your first viewpoint comes 0.6 miles from the Navajo Lake Loop trail fork, mile 2.9 from the trailhead, as the trail turns in a small meadow.

The first viewpoint. Not much, but it's a start. The series of cliffs and valleys to the south was created by the Virgin River.

At mile 4.7, the Navajo Campground trail forks to the right. This trail descends 600 vertical feet over 1.2 miles down to the Navajo Lake Loop trail, then on to the campground. On the day of my latest ride, the trail sign was lying on the ground. The Navajo Campground trail sees less traffic, so without the sign you might not even notice the trail.

Rounding a turn at the trail fork for the Navajo Campground trail. The trail is to my left (right side of the photo), with a trail sign lying in the grass just outside the photo.)

The trail now climbs back to the rim. The riding is fairly flat as you continue eastbound. As you reach a spot where the trail begins to descend again -- around mile 5.8 -- there will be views of the pink cliffs. You'll be climbing to the top of them soon. For now, descend through a series of turns into a dip between mountains called The Saddle.

Looking east at the spot where we descend from the rim toward The Saddle.

At mile 6.0, 1.2 miles from the Navajo Campground trail, you'll reach the Spruces Campground trail at the bottom of The Saddle. Your elevation here is 9400 feet. The Spruces Campground trail is the steepest of the access trails, but it's also the shortest. It drops 300 vertical feet in 1/2 mile to the Navajo Lake Loop trail and the Spruces Campground. Continue straight for the ongoing VRRT.

At the Spruces trail fork in The Saddle. The signage was very good.

From the Spruces trail, the VRRT climbs to regain its elevation. At 6.8 miles from the trailhead, and 0.8 miles from the Spruces trail, you'll hit the ride's best viewpoint. There's a little spur that takes you 30 feet to the edge of the cliffs. Worth a stop.

Arriving at the ride's best viewpoint after climbing from The Saddle.

The Pink Cliffs are Claron Formation limestone. This is the same rock you'll see at Cedar Breaks and Bryce Canyon. The pink and orange rock is soft limestone from the Tertiary Period, formed in a large fresh-water lake about 40 million years ago.

Looking east from the viewpoint at the Claron Formation cliffs.

At mile 7.1 the trail reaches the Dike Trail. This is where our loop ride leaves the VRRT by forking to the left. The Dike trail is 1.4 miles long, descending to the Navajo Lake Loop trail.

Getting started on the Dike Trail.

If you elect to continue on the VRRT, it will be 2.2 miles to the Cascade Falls overlook. From there, follow the gravel road FR 054 north 1.5 miles then fork left toward Navajo Lake on FR 370. (A right turn on FR 370 takes you to the Duck Creek Village and campground along Highway 14. )

At the Navajo Lake road 1.1 miles later, turn left. Watch for a sign indicating the Navajo Lake Loop trail to complete your loop. (A left turn on Navajo Lake Loop yeilds a lariat loop -- and you'll need to climb back uphill to the VRRT. A right turn takes you on an easier and prettier return path along the north side of the lake.)

Heading downhill. Usually plush, occasionally bumpy.

Back to our loop ride...

The first 0.4 miles of the Dike trail is fairly flat riding. Then it descends 550 vertical feet over the next mile through heavy forest.

The Dike Trail descends through a couple of switchbacks. The rate of descent (or climb) is reasonable.

At the Navajo Lake Loop trail, a right turn (to the east) will take you on a somewhat longer loop around the far east side of the lake. This includes the interesting lava boulder field.

Arriving at the Navajo Lake Loop trail.

My sample ride takes the left turn. About 1/10th mile later, watch for a small trail descending on your right. It goes to the road. At the road, turn left and head for the gravel road on the right side of the pavement. Follow this gravel road west to the dike.

Ride across the dike, then climb the singletrack up to the Navajo Lake Loop trail. At the trail fork, keep straight and westbound.

Heading across the dike. When water levels are high, there's blue on both sides of the dike.

It's another 3.7 miles on the Navajo Lake Loop trail from the Dike trail fork to the trailhead. The trail is slightly rolling, with meadows of wildflowers among stands of aspen and occasional fir.

Westbound near the lake shore on the Navajo Lake Loop trail.

Virgin River Rim Trail - Navajo Peak section loop ride

 If the above video does not appear on your browser/device, you can watch it on YouTube by clicking here.

Riding directions, counterclockwise "Dike" loop:
0.0   West on DT from TH N37 31.794 W112 48.539
0.4   R on paved road N37 31.887 W112 48.869
0.8   L on ST Virgin River Rim N37 31.992 W112 49.255
2.3   L (R = Navajo Lake Loop) N37 31.253 W112 48.595
4.7   R (L = Navajo CG trail) N37 30.759 W112 47.545
6.0   Straight (L = Spruces CG trail) N37 30.785 W112 46.721
6.8   Spur to viewpoint N37 30.740 W112 46.447
7.1   Fork L on Dike Trail (straight = VRRT)
        N37 30.562 W112 46.142

8.5   L on Navajo Lake Loop N37 30.975 W112 45.625
8.6   R down to road N37 30.994 W112 45.659
        L on road 100 feet
        R on gravel road, west toward dike
8.8   Up to edge of dike, R on dike N37 31.131 W112 45.852
9.3   ST at edge of dike N37 31.478 W112 45.663
9.4   Straight on Navajo Lake Loop N37 31.510 W112 45.662
12.2 At trailhead

Getting there, Navajo Lake Loop trailhead:  From Cedar City, drive up the canyon on U-14 for 25 miles. Turn right on the Navajo Lake road FR 053 and drive 5.4 miles past the lake. Turn right on dirt road at the sign (if you reach Te Ah, you went too far). The road will turn back to the east. Park at the trailhead 0.4 miles from the paved road.  Water: Te Ah campground.  Bathroom:  Lake Loop trailhead.
Cascade Falls overlook trailhead:  Drive to the Navajo Lake road as above. 0.3 miles later, turn left on FR 370 and drive 1.1 miles. Turn right on FR 054 at the sign for Cascade Falls. Drive 1.5 miles and park. The trail cross the road near the parking strip.
Riding resources for this trail:
Single-page riding guide
GPS track files and route (right-click and "Save as..."):
     12.2-mile Navajo Peak Loop as above
    Area multi-track GPX    Virgin Rim track
    10-mile Pink Cliffs Loop
Topo maps for printing:
     Entire VRRT   Navajo Lake area
Lodging, camping, shops:
     Links to Cedar City area resources
     Link to Red Canyon area resources

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