Distance: 1.9 miles, though extensions can make it longer
Elevation Gain: 150 ft
Dogs Allowed: Yes, on leash
The Chuckwalla Trail is located about 4 miles outside of St George, so it’s got convenient and easy city access. It’s located in the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve. To get there, head north on Bluff St out of St George. Keep right towards Enterprise and then go straight as the road transitions to Highway 18. Just past there, take the first left and park. There’s a medium-sized parking lot there with room for around 15 cars. With a smaller parking lot, finding parking can be an issue during peak hiking times. At the trailhead, you’ll find bathrooms as well as some maps to get your bearings.
A few sections of the trail are technically in Snow Canyon State Park, but since the trailhead is in the Red Cliffs Reserve, you don’t have to pay the State Park Entrance Fee.
What to Take When Hiking the Chuckwalla Trail
The biggest hazard while on the Chuckwalla trail is the HEAT! It causes more injuries and problems than anything else, so staying covered cool, and hydrated should be your top concern. On hot days, you need to drink at least 1 liter of water per hour.
REUSABLE BLOCK FOR SOUTHERN UTAH HIKES
water, loose clothing, hat, sunscreen
If you’re looking for an easy St George hike that you can do in under an hour, Chuckwalla trail is a great option. While the main trail is only 1.9 miles, it connects to several other trails that you can take to extend your hike.
The trail starts with a small downhill hike on a loose dirt path. You’ll immediately see several of the red rock formations that the area is best known for. On the right, you’ll notice a large cliff, which is popular with rock climbers. The beginning of the trail is the most crowded, because of the popularity of climbing, and once you leave here, the trail levels out and you’ll see fewer people.
As you continue along the trail, you’ll see a variety of desert plants, including sagebrush, yucca, and prickly pear cactus. There are a few stands of cottonwoods down in the wash, which make it the ideal place to take a break in the shade or to have a picnic on your hike.
As you climb higher on the trail, you’ll start to see sweeping views of the surrounding landscape, including red rock cliffs and mesas.
When you get to a trail junction, you can keep going straight toward Beck Hill. However, if you go to the left, you can go up to Turtle Wall. We recommend going left since there are lots of fun rocks you can scramble around at Turtle Wall. The kids will love it and there’s even a small arch you can climb up to (go to the backside for the easiest way up).
Wildlife at Chuckwalla Trail
If you watch closely, you may see rabbits, lizards, birds of prey, and roadrunners. Occasionally you can also see the endangered desert tortoise. Coyotes also live here, though it’s rare to see them.
Biking Chuckwalla Trail
The Chuckwalla Trail is also a great place to mountain bike. The trail surface is mostly loose dirt, and there are plenty of rocks and ruts to keep it interesting. As the trail is relatively short, it’s perfect for doing multiple laps in order to get some good exercise. There are several sections where you can really open up and get some speed but be careful to watch your tires as there are plenty of rocks that can catch you off guard and a few sections where the trail is more technical. While the trail is considered an easy hike, because of the technical sections, we’d consider this an easy blue/intermediate St George bike trail.
The Chuckwalla trail is most popular as a connector to other St George bike trails. The Chuckwalla to Paradise Rim route is one of the most popular route options.
Best Features of The Chuckwalla Trail
While the Chuckwalla Trail isn’t a destination trail, its easy access to St George makes it one of the best trails to take if you want to just get out and explore for a bit. Here are some of the best things about Chuckwalla Trail.
- Close to town
- Great for all ages. One of the best St George hikes for kids
- Quick and easy
- Accessible for both hikers, horseback riders, and mountain bikers
- Bathrooms at the trailhead
- Connects to several other trails for longer hikes and bike rides
Downsides of Chuckwalla Trail
- Very popular so the trailhead parking can fill up easily
- Very little shade (except in the wash)
- Down in the wash so not safe during flash flood warning times
What Is The Red Cliffs Desert Reserve?
The Red Cliffs Desert Reserve is a protected area located in southwestern Utah, in the United States that covers more than 62,000 acres. It’s home to a unique and fragile desert ecosystem, which includes a variety of plant and animal species that are not found anywhere else in the world. The reserve’s red rock cliffs and canyons also provide important habitats for a number of endangered and threatened species, such as the Mojave Desert tortoise, the desert bighorn sheep, and the peregrine falcon.
The best way to experience the reserve is through hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. There are also lots of great opportunities to spot wildlife here, especially if you visit in the morning or evening when it’s cooler and the wildlife is more active.
Some of the most popular hiking trails in the reserve include the Chuckwalla Trail mentioned here, the Dino Cliffs Trail, and the Red Reef Trail.
What Trails Can I Get To From Chuckwalla Trail?
Spanning less than one mile, this route serves as a vital link to Turtle Wall, Beck Hill, Halfway Wash, and Paradise Rim trails in Paradise Canyon. It is also an ideal starting point for the Gila and Scout Cave Trails from the south.