Celebrating Success: Iron Hills Trail System Designated as a National Recreation by Cedar City Field Office

Jacqueline Russell

The BLM Utah Cedar City Field Office marked a momentous occasion on the evening of Aug. 31, 2023 – the designation of the Iron Hills Trail System as a National Recreation Trail (NRT). The event, held at the Southview Trailhead in Cedar City, Utah, brought together community members and stakeholders to celebrate this remarkable achievement. The NRT designation holds profound significance, reflecting not only a title but also the community's devotion to outdoor recreation and its vision for growth.

Community members come together for the Iron Hill Trail System designation event in August 2023.
Community members come together to celebrate the designation of the Iron Hills Trail System National Recreation Trail designation.

The Iron Hills Trail System's recognition as a NRT highlights its unique position as one of only six NRTs in Southwest Utah. It is also the only NRT in Iron County and stands as the sole new designation this year for both Utah and the BLM. The designation brings attention to the trail system, boosting tourism and creating economic opportunities for local businesses. The system's addition to the NRT list marks the first in over a decade for Southwest Utah, emphasizing the exceptional nature of this accomplishment.

Mountain bikers and hikers participate in group activities during the NRT event.
Mountain bikers and hikers participated in several group activities during the NRT designation event.

Spanning 16 trails and over 30 miles, the Iron Hills Trail System has become a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. The system's five distinct trailheads offer diverse experiences for hikers and mountain bikers alike. Beyond its extensive trail network, what truly sets this system apart is the unwavering dedication of Iron Trailcraft and local volunteers who contribute a staggering 550 hours of trail work annually. This unwavering commitment played a pivotal role in securing the official NRT designation.

The NRT designation is a testament to the extraordinary collaboration and dedication exhibited by the Cedar City and Iron County community. The trail system's remarkable quality, accessibility, and community engagement were key factors in its recognition. The Iron Hills Trail System also provides a dynamic practice landscape for the local National Interscholastic Cycling Association team, the Iron Giants, witnessing a surge in athlete participation from 17 to over 100 since its inception.

Lichen It trail sign with NRT sign.
During the event new NRT signs were installed along the Iron Hills Trail System's 16 trails.

Several individuals and organizations deserve special recognition for their contributions to making the designation event a success. Notable figures include Maria Twitchell from the Cedar City-Brian Head Tourism Bureau, who generously provided food and drinks for the celebratory event. Jason Murray of Red Rock Shuttle also contributed his time and resources, transporting mountain bike riders to the 'C' Overlook for group ride participants. The event's speakers, including Jeff Jacomb from Iron Trailcraft and Ginger and Danny Hall from Iron Giants and Utah High School Cycling League, highlighted the depth of community involvement.

Outdoor Recreation Planners Mike Innes and Dave Jacobson stand in front of newly installed NRT sign.
Outdoor Recreation Planners Mike Innes and Dave Jacobson stand next to a newly installed NRT sign.

This extraordinary recognition highlights the commitment of the Cedar City community to create a comprehensive and inclusive recreational network. The Iron Hills Trail System is far from reaching its full potential. The BLM Cedar City Field Office was able to demonstrate that the Iron Hills Trail System is continuously evolving, with plans for further expansion and development in the future. As a result, it was ensured that all future trails incorporated into the system will automatically fall under the prestigious NRT designation.

This forward-thinking approach guarantees that the Iron Hills Trail System will continue to grow and thrive, offering even more opportunities for outdoor enjoyment, community wellness, and environmental appreciation. The NRT designation not only celebrates the present but also paves the way for an exciting and promising future for this remarkable trail system.

The dedication of Cedar City Field Office employees, including Outdoor Recreation Planner Mike Innes, Outdoor Recreation Planner David Jacobson, and Field Manager Paul Briggs, played a crucial role in realizing this accomplishment. As this milestone is celebrated, there is an anticipation of continued growth, community involvement, and adventure that the Iron Hills Trail System will offer.

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