- Jan 11, 2018
Start/end: I started at the Padre Canyon trailhead. It's a loop, so direction (clockwise/counter-clockwise) and start are flexible.
Mileage: 15+ miles
Elevation gain: 3000 ft+
Difficulty: class 3-4 depending on the route into or out of White Rock Amphitheater
Navigation: Helpful to be able to have some route-finding skills for hiking and scrambling. Infrequent cairns on Red Mountain trail.
Filterable water: unreliable; may be some in potholes after recent rains or snowfall
Designation: Snow Canyon State Park, Red Mountain Wilderness
Fees: yes, if parking in Snow Canyon
Nearest town/gas: Ivins, UT
Date hiked: 16 Mar 2019
References: Red Mountain trail
Very Approximate Route
I had planned to park closer to the Snow Canyon campground, but there was some sort of race going on and I didn't feel like waiting in the growing line of traffic. Instead I started at the Padre Canyon trailhead. I took the Padre Canyon trail over to Tuacahn, scoping out possible routes onto the Red Mountain plateau. After briefly checking out the Tuacahn Saturday market, which was disappointingly far from a farmers' market, I headed up the ridge. I ended up having to contour back south to gain the plateau since the rock was extra fragile from the relentless winter storms.
After some fun ridge scrambling I reached a secluded slickrock valley. I zigzagged around short drop-offs and cliff faces and made my way to the rim proper.
Once on the rim I started to see cairns from the Red Mountain trail proper. There was some sand dune slogging and meandering through a huge stream cut with walls higher than my head.
I passed the Red Sands descent and the landscape changed dramatically into undulating white sandstone with pine trees. Here I ran into the first group of hikers.
More people emerged as I got closer to the Red Mountain trail and network of trails to various overlooks, unsurprisingly popular with the sweeping views into Snow Canyon.
I left the trails and continued along the rim, summiting various "bumps" as I made my way toward the ridge exit.
Finally I could see people White Rock Amphitheater below and just needed to figure out the best way down. I found a short 4th class downclimb into the amphitheater area, and was immediately greeted by a tiny girl who screeched at me to watch her slide down the sand hill in her saucer.
Far too much excitement for me, so I found a slot canyon/drainage that avoided the family area and made a direct line back to West Canyon dirt road. The drainage eventually cliffed out, but an easier path lay just south. I walked West Canyon and the frontage path back to my car.