Red Reef Trail

Phone:
Address:

348 East Riverside Drive St. George, UT 84790

Latitude/Longitude:
37.18928435, -113.4262273
Directions:

To enter the Red Cliffs Recreation Area, vehicle and trailer height and width are restricted to 11 feet 9 inches to pass through two narrow underpasses beneath the I-15 freeway. Plan your travel according. 

Red Reef Trailhead (Northbound from Saint George) From I-15 northbound, take exit 22 for UT-228 north toward Leeds, then turn right onto Old Highway 91. Continue for 2 miles, then turn right onto west Red Cliffs Campground Road. Follow the campground road 1.5 miles to access day-use parking along the campground loop. The Red Reef Trailhead is located between campsites two and three. 

Red Reef Trailhead (Southbound from Cedar City) From I-15 southbound, take exit 23 toward UT-228/Leeds, then turn left onto Silver Reef Road. Continue for 480 feet, then turn right onto Main Street. After 1.5 miles, continue southbound on Old Highway 91 for 2 miles. Turn right onto west Red Cliffs Campground Road. Follow the campground road 1.5 miles to access day-use parking along the campground loop. The Red Reef Trailhead is located between campsites two and three.

Cottonwood Trailhead (Northbound from Saint George) From I-15 northbound, take exit 16 to merge onto UT-9 toward Hurricane. At the light, turn left onto 6300 West Old Highway 91. After two miles turn left onto North 5500 West.  This is a small dirt road located between two businesses and is easy to miss.

Cottonwood Trailhead (Southbound from Cedar City) From I-15 southbound, take exit 23 toward UT-228/Leeds, then turn left onto Silver Reef Road. Continue for 480 feet, then turn right onto Main Street. After 1.5 miles, continue southbound on Old Highway 91. After four miles turn right onto North 5500 West.  This is a small dirt road located between two businesses and is easy to miss.

Fee Description:

Red Cliffs Recreation Area - Day Use Fee: $5 per vehicle. Cash or check only. The America the Beautiful Passes are accepted here and allow free day-use.

Red Reef Trail

  • Activities: Hiking

  • Trail Distance: 5.7 miles (one way) two-track

  • Trail Difficulty: Moderate first 0.6 miles, then strenuous.

 

From the Red Reef Trailhead

  • The Red Reef Trail follows the Quail Creek drainage as it enters the Cottonwood Canyon Wilderness. Ten of thousands of visitors hike this first 0.6-mile section of trail each spring when snowmelt creates short cascades of water that pools in slickrock bowls.

  • To continue beyond this popular destination, hikers must use a series of small toe holds carved into the sandstone to ascend this first obstacle. After 0.4 miles the route will leave the Quail Creek drainage and enter a side canyon on the left. 

  • Day-use parking in the Red Cliffs Recreation Area is extremely limited and will fill to maximum capacity on weekends, holidays, and most days during the spring and fall months.

  • To avoid being turned away, be sure to arrive early in the morning to find a designated parking space. Parking on vegetation or along the road is prohibited.

  • Please be respectful of other visitors by not parking in, or walking through, reserved campsites. If all designated day-use parking is full, visitors may use the White Reef Trailhead as an overflow lot.

From the Cottonwood Trailhead

  • Hikers will begin on the Cottonwood Canyon trail, (0.3 miles) from there the trail will fan out into five different trails. The Red Reef trail is sandwiched between the Cottonwood Canyons and Prospector trails. Be sure to follow early trail markers to make sure you are on the correct route. The Red Reef Trail will then enter the Cottonwood Canyon Wilderness and follow along a tributary of Cottonwood Creek. 

Point to Point

  • The full route (5.74 miles) includes difficult sections with steep and rugged terrain where hikers will need to use their hands to navigate steep chimneys and various obstacles. Technical climbing gear is not required, but some hikers may use ropes for additional safety. Be prepared for class 2 to class 3 hiking. A good pair of hiking shoes with traction is highly recommended. Within designated Wilderness areas, the route is not signed and may require route finding.

Accessibility Description (ABA/ADA):
The Red Reef Trail is not ADA accessible.

Adventure is at Your Fingertips

Parking

  • Day-use parking in the Red Cliffs Recreation Area is extremely limited and will fill to maximum capacity on weekends, holidays, and most days during the spring and fall months.
  • To avoid being turned away, be sure to arrive early in the morning to find a designated parking space. Parking on vegetation or along the road is prohibited.
  • Please be respectful of other visitors by not parking in, or walking through, reserved campsites. If all designated day-use parking is full, visitors may use the White Reef Trailhead as an overflow lot.

Restrooms

  • Vault toilets are located near campsite seven in the Red Cliffs Campground and at the Cottonwood and White Reef trailheads.

Pets

  • Pets are permitted, but they must be kept on a leash outside of the Wilderness boundaries. Pet waste disposal bags are provided at each of the trailheads. Be responsible and carry waste bags with you until they can be deposited into a trash receptacle. Never leave them on the side of the trail.

Safety

  • Quail Creek has a high potential for flash flooding. Flash floods are a sudden increase in the depth and speed of water in rivers or streams due to heavy rain from thunderstorms. Always check the weather forecast and flash flood potential before entering a narrow canyon.
  • Leave an itinerary with someone and check in when you are done.
  • The depth of the water in pools can vary, especially after flood events. Never jump into a pool without first verifying depth. Severe ankle and knee injuries have occurred.
  • The desert is an extreme environment. Carry enough water, one gallon per person per day, and drink it.
  • Cell phone reception is extremely limited.

Leave No Trace

  • Keep food away from all wildlife, and never approach or touch a wild animal.
  • Protect the canyon walls, rocks, and trees from graffiti and vandalism.
  • Stay on established trails to protect vegetation and fragile biological soils.
  • Protect the natural sounds of the canyon by talking softly and using headphones for music.
  • Drones are not permitted within the National Conservation Area or within any designated Wilderness areas.