Veyo Loop—Epic, Scenic Road Biking in the St. George Area

Distance: ~45 Miles

Elevation gain: ~2,600 ft of climbing (the climb up Snow Canyon alone  is 6 miles, 4% grade, and 1,450 ft elevation gain). Clockwise or counter clockwise – either climb Snow Canyon or “The Wall”

Highlights: Gunlock Reservoir, Snow Canyon State Park, Veyo Pie shop, Cinder cones, horses, cows, goats, deer, hawks, quail, road runners, and not a single stoplight (though I once had to slow to let some free range cattle cross)

This incredibly scenic, well-marked route has the distinction of being the 1st official designated cycling route in Washington County, UT, it take you through the towns of Diamond Valley, Dammeron Valley, Veyo, Gunlock, and Ivins. The Vejo Pie Shop is a must stop for many to refuel and indulge in a piece of their famed pies. The loop is a popular training route for triathletes for the Ironman 70.3 St. George and it was part of the full Ironman St. George course and the recent “Tour de St. George” century ride. I’m so fortunate to have this spectacular ride as my local “go to” ride. If you’re a road biker, this is a must do if you’re in the area.

Notes: Snow Canyon State Park has an entry fee: $10 for locals/ $15 for out of towners, you can also bypass the park and climb or descend the 18 highway instead. There’s a bike path that runs parallel to the 18, northbound the hills are quite a bit stepper than the highway (knee grinders). For the most part, there’s ample room on the highway, but there are 18-wheelers and trucks with trailers whizzing by so it’s not for the faint of heart…Also, be forewarned there’s a fair amount of debris on the roadsides – glass, steel radial, etc…Be prepared, bring your tough tires and a couple of tubes, Co2s, a hand pump, and plenty of water, especially in the summer. Enjoy the ride!

Views to the North and South From Padre Canyon, Ivins, UT

Distance: 2.9 miles out and back or ~8 miles if you descend down the north side of the canyon and loop through Snow Canyon back to Tuacahn

Elevation gain: ~750

Difficulty: Moderate-depending on fitness level – due to deteriorating / rugged  (rocky/sandy/slippery) trail conditions and the climb.

This was my first hike as an official resident of St. George. It’s a good one, rewarding with great views at the “peak” south back the way you came and north into Snow Canyon. For a longer adventure, you can keep going north and then hike your way right until you arrive at the bottom of snow canyon. You will have to walk the paved bike path and the road to get back to the Tuacahn parking lot this way, but you will be immersed in spectacular views the entire time. For a shorter adventure without pavement, you can simply do an out and back as far as your heart desires.

Either way, you can’t wrong. Enjoy!

Directions: The Saddleback / Padre Canyon trailhead is in Ivin’s at the top right of the Tuacahn parking lot to the right.

Notes: Free parking

Spring Creek Canyon, A Perfect Little Fall Hike, Kanarraville, UT

Distance: ~5.5 Miles

Elevation: 948 ft

Difficulty: Easy to more difficult if you scramble/bushwhack your way further up the slot canyon

Terrain: Starts out as a sandy trail and gradually gets rockier. There are a couple of short slot canyon offshoots to the left and right to explore along the way. At about mile 2.5 the trail begins to disappear into the heavy overgrowth. Continue on if you’re up the challenge.

Located just outside the Kolob Canyons area of Zion National Park, Spring Creek slot canyon makes for a beautiful hike any time of year, but especially in leaf peeping season – as you can see why. There are a few minor creek crossings, but it’s relatively easy to keep your feet dry. (No water shoes needed.) I took the trail 4.5 miles up – if you’re going beyond 2.5 miles, I highly recommend hiking shoes and long pants.

Getting there: Take the I-15 to the Kanarraville Exit, and follow the main route to the south edge of town. At 400 South Main Street, take the route that heads southeast toward the cliffs. Follow it for about 0.82 miles to the parking area and trailhead.

Exploring the Vortex, Gunlock, UT

Exploring the Vortex, Gunlock, UT  

Distance: 2.3 mile out and back

Elevation gain: via trail 524ft, via a scramble up the rock face 899ft

Terrain: Rocky and sandy with plenty of scramble/climb options

If you’re looking for a mini-adventure in an other-worldly landscape, you can find it at the Vortex. Yes, there’s a tame trail that will take you to the top, but there’s ample opportunity to choose your own scramble route up the myriad of steep sandstone rock faces.

Highlights: Panoramic views, stream running through the bottom of the canyon, rock pockets filled with reflecting pools after a rain

Notes: Exposed area, best in the Fall or Winter, especially after a rain.

Getting there: Take the 18N to Dammeron Valley and make a left on the inconspicuous dirt road with the small Upper Sand Cove sign. Follow the road for about 5-6 miles. Once you cross over the cattle guard, you’ll see a sign for the Lower Sand Cove Trailhead – aka, the Vortex trail.

Forsyth Trail: Fine Trail With Fantastic Views, Pine Valley, UT

Difficulty: Butt Kicker

Elevation Gain: 3,2385

Total Distance: 10 Miles RT

Forsyth is a kinder, more gentle trail than the Brown’s Point Trail and it offers an even greater reward—far more splendid, panoramic views. Don’t get me wrong they are both great hikes, but if you can only do one, it should be Forsyth for the gurgling stream that runs alongside the trail for miles and the stellar views at the top. The first 3.5 miles are mostly shaded with a steady incline. Once you hit the 3.5 mark, the trail takes off its kid gloves and puts your fitness to the test by packing a powerful punch of elevation gain into the last 1.5 miles. Despite that elevation packed punch at the end, I’d say this trail is MUCH easier than Brown’s Point Trail even though the mileage difference is less a 1/2 mile and the elevation difference is just a couple hundred feet.  If you’re into peak bagging, there are add on options to Burger Peak (~11.8 miles & 4,268 feet elevation) and Signal Peak. (I’ll update if / when I do those 2.)

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Getting There: Turn left onto FR 035/E Main St/Pine Valley Rd and right at the sign for Forsyth Trail / Meadows Dr / U1212.

Notes: Dog friendly trail!