Cable Mountain, East Zion NP— Easy Hike With A Big View Reward

Difficulty: Easy—“walk in the park”, perfect trail running terrain, very gradual incline

Length: ~8 roundtrip

Elevation: 1,155 ft

Take a walk on the East side of Zion for fewer humans and similar vistas. There are a couple of different trails to Cable Mountain. I opted for the Stave Spring Trailhead route this time. It’s a pleasant hike on smooth, foot friendly terrain through a recently burned ponderosa forest that yields big views and historic remnant rewards at the turnaround point. (Not much to see along the way.)

Highlights: Vertigo inducing views of Angel’s Landing, Observation Point, and of the water below winding its way to the North fork of the Virgin river. You’ll also find remnants of the Cable Mountain Draw Works. Listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the structure was an aerial tramway used to move lumber and timber off Cable Mountain and down to Zion Canyon from 1901 to 1927.

The view through what’s left of the aerial tramway
Tramway remnants

Takeaway: You get a similar view payoff as Angel’s Landing (and a view of Angel’s Landing) without the big incline, crowds, and the life-risking part…

Getting there: East Zion, go through the park tunnel and follow the signs for Zion Ponderosa Resort. Make a the left onto the dirt road that goes by the Resort and follow the signs for Cable Mountain.

Note: Dirt road and trail conditions will vary with rain or snow. It is doable by car, but beware there’s a huge dip right before the trailhead parking so proceed with caution (if your vehicle has the mojo) and /or park just prior.

Hiker tip: (Hardcore hikers might find this hike a bit too easy and a bit too bland, except for views at the turnaround point. Great for casual / beginner hikers who want to challenge their distance.) Y There are options to add mileage and elevation gain for those who are looking for more than a “walk in park, including other connector hikes from this trailhead. More on these later…

Yowza! Yant Flat! Leeds, UT

Also known as Candy Cliffs, this rocky wonderland is more than sweet- it requires a default to the overused superlative “EPIC” with an added “for sure”!

Only the first mile is a sandy trail, the rest is create your own adventure (at your own risk) across all types of fascinating colored and textured rock topography. Some steep, slippery sections… If you’re lucky, you might find the one crevasse that will take you down to the wash that you barely see in the distance way down below. Or like me, you may choose the wrong route and end up at a dead end, which could turn into a dead end in more ways than 1.

Length: 2-infinity miles

Getting there (4-wheel drive with clearance recommended): Cottonwood Springs Road in St. George to FR903

Notes: Would not attempt the drive or hike in the rain

For similar views at a slightly smaller scale and without the need for a 4-wheel drive, check out the Snow Canyon Overlook Trail

Ravishing (but overrun) Red Reef, Hurricane, UT

Short and splendid, this incredibly scenic area features a waterfall, a creek, a slot canyon, a cave, a mini-rock / rope climb, cliffs to scale—oh, my! So much is the span of a short out and back trail (2 miles total). It’s like a mini-Zion. The bad news is that it has the crowds to match. (Sigh.) (Reality pic is the last one in the slide show.) Thankfully everyone is respecting the natural beauty and leaving no trace. The good news is that solitude it just an upcliff scramble or mini-rope rock climb away…

Getting there: Exit 22 towards UT-228 N, right on old highway 91 to the Red Cliffs National Conservation area

Fee: $5

Happy Trails!

Caves, Caverns, and Catacombs—Oh My! Cathedral Gorge State Park, Panaca, NV

While there’s not much hiking to be done here (a grand total of 5.5 miles if you hit all 5 trails), what you will find is an otherworldly playground of caves, caverns, and catacombs. Between the spires and bluff-colored cliffs, you can follow one slot canyon into the next in aMAZEment.

One of Nevada’s first four state parks, Cathedral Gorge was established in 1935 as a geologic preserve. It features dramatic, other-wordly landscape of eroded soft bentonite clay that covers close to 2k acres. The amazing spires, cliffs, and slot canyons are the result of millions of years of geologic activity sparked by volcanic eruptions that dispersed layers of ash hundreds of feet deep to the region. Faulting formed a valley over time, which eventually filled with water and became a freshwater lake. Over the centuries, this prehistoric lake began to gradually drain, and erosion began to expose and form the ash and pumice.

Enjoy the incredible views from the Miller Point Overlook gazebo (originally constructed by the CCC) and then create your own adventure in the abundant caves, slot canyons, catacombs, and slot canyons. 

The formations at Cathedral Gorge remind me of the sand castles that my brother and I used to create by squeezing wet sand through our hands and letting the drips accumulate into peaks of various heights and girths. Indeed, the firmness and stability of the formations in Cathedral Gorge vary substantially so you must be alert at all times, taking care that you don’t break through the surface or fall into a chasm. (The trail guide included stats on trail firmness and stability.) Yes, it’s a bit sketchy, but totally cool. Kids would be amazed by this place and entertained for hours. For safety’s sake, I’d suggest that you keep them and pets on a tight leash!

Address: 111 Cathedral Gorge State Park Road, Panaca, NV 89042, a must-do, easy day trip from my base camp, St. George, UT, and about 2.5 hours northeast of Las Vegas on Highway 93,

Notes: $5 day use fee, camp at one of the 22 camp sites for $15 per night (first-come, first served), each with a table, grill and shade. Electrical hookups are available for an additional $10. Water and flushing restrooms with coin-operated showers are open year-round, with handicap-accessible sites available. Pets must be kept on a leash of < six feet.

Hiking Guide:

Happy trails!

Heavenly Hell Hole, Ivins, UT

Distance: ~3.4 Miles

Difficulty: Easy, but rocky terrain in wash (lower trail), sandy terrain (upper trail)

Magnificent red mountain views, panoramic vistas, and the possibility of waterfalls await. After a recent rain or snow, if the timing is right, and you’re lucky, you just might sight one of the rare and wonderful waterfalls.

You can take the lower wash trail and navigate a continuous rock field or you can take the sandy upper trail above the wash. For variety, take 1 out and the other back. Once you’re on top of the ridge, stop and listen for the sound of water, look carefully and closely at the dark veins running down the red cliffs. Watch for movement and light reflecting.

Continue hiking to very back of the canyon for some bouldering and scrambling fun. Be safe!

Notes: Exposed hike, best enjoyed in Winter, Spring, Fall

Getting there: Park along 779 Taviawk Dr, Ivins, UT