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
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
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.