10 Absolute Best Hikes Near St. George Utah

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St. George is a city located in southwest Utah. It’s surrounded by beautiful desert landscapes, red rocks, and plenty of outdoor activities. One of my favorite things to do in St. George is to get outside for a hike. While the Summer months can be brutally hot, the rest of the year is perfect for hitting the trails. In this post, I’m sharing what I think are the best hikes near St. George.

10 best hikes in St. George Utah

Whether you have just a couple of hours or several days to explore, there’s plenty on this list to fit your trip. Let’s dive in!

Best Hikes in St. George Utah

Map created using Wanderlog, a trip planner app on iOS and Android

The first couple of hikes on my list are in the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve.

This is a 60,000-acre area with stunning landscapes and plants and animals you won’t find anywhere else in the world.

1. Red Reef Trail

  • Roundtrip Length: about 2.2 miles
  • Hike Type: Out & Back
  • Location: Red Cliffs Desert Reserve
  • Trailhead: Trailhead is located near campsite #2 in the Red Cliffs Campground in the Red Cliffs Recreation Area
  • Distance from St. George: about 20 miles
  • Best Time of Year: Spring and Fall
  • Flash Floods: yes, this area is prone to flash floods – always check the weather!
  • Cost: $5 for day use

About the Hike:

If you want to see water on this hike, the best time to go is in late Spring.

The waterfall (pictured above) marks the end of the official trail, but you can explore it further. There are a few steps carved into the rock to assist you in climbing up and over this section.

If you’re really uncomfortable with heights, it’s best to turn around at this point. Beware that the rocks can be extremely slick, especially when wet.

If you choose to climb up and over this section, there is no marked trail beyond this point and you will be adding additional mileage to the hike beyond what I wrote above.

The Babylon Arch Trail in the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve

2. Babylon Arch Trail

  • Roundtrip Length: about 2 miles
  • Hike Type: Out & Back
  • Location: Red Cliffs Desert Reserve
  • Trailhead: Sand Cove Parking Lot
  • Distance from St. George: about 20 miles
  • Best Time of Year: Spring, Fall, Winter
  • Cost: no cost

About the Hike:

First off, this trailhead is a little more difficult to get to. A high clearance 4WD vehicle is recommended to drive down the sandy road. I parked at the Sand Cove Parking lot and started the hike from there.

Secondly, this trail is not well marked at all. Make sure you have ways to navigate and orient yourself.

While I personally found the arch itself to be a little underwhelming on this hike, the hike to the arch is beautiful, so it still makes the list!

You can turn around at the arch, or continue on the trail down to the Virgin River where you can turn around and hike back the way you came. If you choose to go down to the river, the roundtrip hike is more like 2.8 miles.

View from the overlook in Snow Canyon State Park in Utah

The next six St. George hikes on this list start in Snow Canyon State Park.

Snow Canyon is an incredible park for hiking.

The park contains over 20 miles of trails through sand dunes, petrified dunes, lava tubes, and up to panoramic viewpoints of stunning red and white rocks.

The state park (and most of these hikes) are about 11 miles northwest of St. George.

Hiking the Lava Flow Trail in Snow Canyon State Park, Utah

3. Lava Flow Trail

  • Roundtrip Length: 2.3 miles
  • Hike Type: Out & Back
  • Location: Snow Canyon State Park
  • Best Time of Year: Spring, Fall, Winter
  • Cost: $10 for a day pass into the park

About the Hike:

This is one of my favorite trails in the park. It’s an easy hike over packed dirt and rocks leading to a beautiful viewpoint of petrified dunes and the canyon.

Along the way, there are two lava tubes that you can hike into. Make sure to pack a headlamp if you want to enter into the lava tubes!

Petrified sand dunes in Snow Canyon State Park in southern Utah

4. Petrified Dunes Trail

  • Roundtrip Length: about 1.2 miles
  • Hike Type: Out & Back
  • Location: Snow Canyon State Park
  • Best Time of Year: Spring, Fall, Winter
  • Cost: $10 for a day pass into the park

About the Hike:

Hike over huge petrifies sand dunes! The trail goes up through the petrified dunes with beautiful views all around.

This is an easy trail over uneven rock surfaces.

Johnson Canyon Arch in Snow Canyon State Park

5. Johnson Canyon Trail

  • Roundtrip Length: 2 miles
  • Hike Type: Out & Back
  • Location: Snow Canyon State Park
  • Best Time of Year: This trail is closed annually from March 15th to September 14th.
  • Cost: $10 for a day pass into the park

About the Hike:

This trail is an easy almost flat hike leading to the Johnson Canyon Arch which is one of the largest in the area with a 200 ft span.

The parking area for this hike is just before the official entrance gate into the state park.

Hiking through Jenny’s Canyon in Snow Canyon State Park

6. Jenny’s Canyon Trail

  • Roundtrip Length: 0.3 miles
  • Hike Type: Out & Back
  • Location: Snow Canyon State Park
  • Best Time of Year: This hike is closed annually from March 15th to June 1st.
  • Cost: $10 for a day pass into the park

About the Hike:

This is really more of a short walk, but it’s perfect for young children because it’s short, easy, and leads you to a very cool slot canyon and overlook.

This hike would be great to combine with some of the other hikes in the park for more of a full-day adventure.

Scout Cave in St. George, Utah

7. Scout Cave Trail

  • Roundtrip Length: 3.6 miles
  • Hike Type: Out & Back
  • Trailhead: Johnson Canyon Arch Trail
  • Directions: Trailhead, Scout Cave
  • Best Time of Year: Spring, Fall, Winter
  • Cost: $10 for a day pass into the park

About the Hike:

This is one of the more popular hikes in St. George, and it’s also one of the longer hikes on this list.

On this hike, you’ll traverse across lava flow fields, stream beds, and Navajo Sandstone rocks until you reach Scout Cave!

You can climb up and into the cave and look out at the incredible view. This is one of my favorite hikes on this list.

This hike can be combined with the Johnson Canyon hike mentioned above since they both start at the same trailhead. Adding Johnson Canyon brings this hike to about 4.7 miles roundtrip.

Diamond Cinder Cone trail near St. George, Utah

8. Diamond Cinder Cone Trail

  • Roundtrip Length: 1.7 miles
  • Hike Type: Out & Back
  • Location: Snow Canyon State Park
  • Trailhead: trailhead directions
  • Best Time of Year: Spring, Fall, Winter
  • Cost: no cost

About the Hike:

This is a steep but short hike up to the top of one of the ancient volcanos in Southern Utah. You can walk around the edge of the volcano and even hike down into the crater if you want.

There’s 500 feet of elevation gain and the trail can be slippery at times, but at the top, you’ll get incredible views of Snow Canyon State Park and Dammeron Valley.

The crater is technically part of Snow Canyon State Park, but the trailhead is not in the park.

Yant Flat hike near St. George

9. Yant Flat (Candy Cliffs)

  • Roundtrip Length: 3 miles (or more depending on how much you explore)
  • Hike Type: Out & Back
  • Location: Dixie National Forest
  • Trailhead: trailhead directions
  • Best Time of Year: Spring and Fall
  • Cost: free

About the Hike:

This is one of my favorite hikes near St. George. It’s seriously so special and unique, and a lot of fun to explore.

However, it is a bit of a journey on a dirt road to get out to the trailhead. The road is well maintained and most vehicles should be able to make it down when the weather is good.

The hike itself is mostly flat, but you will be hiking through sand most of the time. Once you get to the end of the trail, you’ll see Yant Flat. At this point, you can explore as much as you want and then hike out the way you came.

The Vortex hike near St. George, Utah

10. The Bowl (aka The Vortex)

  • Roundtrip Length: 2.1 miles
  • Hike Type: Out & Back
  • Location: Dammeron Valley, Utah
  • Trailhead: the vortex trailhead
  • Best Time of Year: Spring, Fall, Winter
  • Cost: no cost

About the Hike:

This is another short but beautiful hike over lava flows and sand. You’ll see unique plants and large white Navajo sandstone features. This hike is similar to the Yant Flat hike mentioned above.

The hike is marked by cairns, but make sure you have a way to navigate and don’t depend on them.

The hike will lead you to a 50-60 ft deep sandstone bowl know as The Vortex. It really is hard to show the scale in a photo! It’s huge.


View of Snow Canyon State Park in the afternoon

St. George Hiking Tips

  • St. George gets HOT in the Summer months. I’ve been hiking in the Summer and it was tough. Most of these trails have very limited or no shade. In addition, there are often no water sources.
  • No matter what time of year you hike, always make sure you’re well prepared with your hiking essentials and that you carry plenty of water for the duration of your hike.
  • Some of these hikes are on slickrock. As the name implies, the rock can get very slippery, even when dry, but especially when wet and sandy. Always use caution when climbing up and over rocks.
  • Lastly, flash floods are a real possibility in the desert. Storms can roll in quickly, so always check the weather before your hikes and change plans if there are flash flood warnings in the area you’re planning to go.
Hiking in the afternoon in Southern Utah

Other Things to do in St. George

St. George is not only a great place to go hiking, but there’s also plenty of other outdoor activities and places to enjoy nearby such as:

I hope you enjoy the desert trails and red rocks on your St. George hikes. If you have any questions, just comment below!

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2 Comments

    1. Hi Monica, Scout’s Cave trail is a longer trail, and the cave lies somewhere in the middle of it. My mileage is an out and back to the cave from Johnson Canyon Trailhead, not the full length of the trail. I hope that helps!