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Snow Canyon's West Canyon Trail

The West Canyon Trail is a double-track trail in beautiful Snow Canyon west of St. George. You'll share this trail with hikers and horses. The trail surface isn't exciting, but -- let's get right to the point -- if you like sandstone, this is the most beautiful trail you'll ever ride.

The trail is fairly straight, wide, and easy to ride. Altitude change is gradual. The trail is actually a hard-packed gravel service road -- the small buildings you see every half-mile are water pumping stations. 

It's fairly easy to tow a bike trailer, but youngsters with training wheels won't be able to ride here. (Take them to a flat section of the Snow Canyon Loop, a paved trail that travels through the park.) The trail is 3.8 miles each way, with an elevation gain of only 350 vertical feet.

The trail starts at a parking area in lower Snow Canyon, at GPS N 37 11.601' W 113 38.896', at an altitude of 3260 ft. At the gate, the paved Snow Canyon Trail merges with this trail for a short distance. Keep left on the gravel surface as the paved bike trail heads back towards the main road.

The rock formations in Snow Canyon are breathtaking. Hiking trails take you from the bike trail into the rock. Photos July 9, 2000 by Bruce Argyle.

At 1.3 miles, there's a bathroom. (In case you didn't go at the trailhead bathroom.) The other houses pump water, and you're not supposed to relieve yourself inside them.

The walls of the canyon are beautiful Navajo sandstone, both the red and the white. It's a good thing the trail is broad and smooth, because you'll spend your riding time gawking at the rock.

Handlebar view up the canyon, towards a wall marbled with different colors of Navajo sand.

Navajo sandstone was formed from blowing sand during the early Jurassic period. The Navajo sandstone can be either white or red, depending on the amount of oxidized iron in the rock. Because the veins of color don't follow the patterns of sand deposition, the iron must have entered the rock in water seeping between the sand grains.

Dogs are allowed on the West Canyon Trail, but they're forbidden on the hiking trails. If you take your hound along in the summer months, remember your dog can't sweat. And he'll work a lot harder running than you will biking. Be sure to give Fido lots of water, and keep the pace mellow.

View up the white sandstone cliffs at the end of this box canyon.

In Snow Canyon, there are a lot of short trails with plenty of southern Utah's unique Navajo sandstone. Kids LOVE Snow Canyon.

1.4 miles up, the Three Ponds Trail intersects the West Canyon Trail. Drop the bike and head left 1/2 mile up the narrow canyon!

Two miles from the start of the trail, watch for a hiking path on the right that leads up to the Lava Tubes and other hiking paths.

Kristen investigates the red rock of Snow Canyon.

Getting there:

Heading south, take the Bluff Street exit in St. George. Turn right onto Bluff Street. Keep going straight until Bluff Street starts to leave the city (although the city is rapidly growing out in this direction).

When Bluff Street becomes Highway 18 towards Snow Canyon and Veyo, watch for the intersection with Skyline Drive and Snow Canyon Parkway about a mile later. Turn left onto Snow Canyon Parkway. Continue a couple of miles until you see the sign for Snow Canyon and Tuacahn. Turn right here. A half-mile later, you'll reach the fee station for Snow Canyon ($5 per car). About a half mile after the fee station, you'll see sand dunes on your left, then a parking area for the trail.

 

Riding resources:
One-page printable riding guide
Lodging, camping, shops:
   Links to St. George area resources

Copyright 2002 Mad Scientist Software Inc