This route is not for the faint of heart! It is a significant climb to the top, but offers rare views of St. George, Snow Canyon, and the Pine Valley Mountains from an elevation of almost 3,700 feet at the top. The trail is used by a few hikers and mountain bikers, but is rarely crowded.
There is virtually no shade on this trail - using this in the summer would be very brutal and dangerous. The best time for hiking this trail is late fall, winter, or early spring.
This hike is a climb to the top! Great views await those who make it all the way to the top. The route can be shortened at many convenient spots if desired.
Trail starts on the left about 50 feet from the trailhead step over off the Barrel Roll
Trail. It connects to the Sidewinder
Trail and can provide an alternative route for the lower section of Barrel Roll
. Although it sits just below Barrel Roll
offers different terrain, plants, and views.
Trail is so named because of the tight squeeze that occurs in the middle section of the trail. Huge rocks slabs tumble down the slope from the upper rim and pinch the trail against a lower cliff edge. While trail construction has moderated the technical aspects of the trail, exposure is still a factor.
From the top of Precipice
, look for Sidewinder
. As its name implies, Sidewinder
gently winds up a narrow little mesa through a series of switchbacks. At the top of the mesa, the trail forms a small loop to take advantage of the terrain and spectacular views.
While it may be tempting to hike off trail, particularly straight up or straight down, dont. This mesa, like the other mesas nearby, has substantial areas of cryptobiotic soils. Many of the deserts smallest wildflowers also find a home on the mesas slopes, but cant be seen until bloom time in Spring. Look for a turn-off for Suicidal Tendencies
around the 2.2-mile mark.
immediately drops down a steep slope with exposed switchbacks. You should expect a steep descent, filled with switchbacks and precipitous exposure. After you navigate down the edge of Sidewinder
Mesa, youll wind across the valley floor before ascending up the next mesa.
The ascent is similar in technicality to the previous descent, a few technical rock sections with some exposure. Near the top of the climb is Hangover, a large rock that hangs above the trail. Watch your head. Past the Hangover is a technical rock move nicknamed Thread the Needle, because you must fit between rocks on each side of the trail. After this section, youve reached the top of the Mesa.
Once on top of the mesa, the hiking changes dramatically. The technicality drops significantly and you simply follow gentle switchbacks to the high point of the mesa. Here you are rewarded with views of the Beaver Dam Mountains to the west. Continuing on after the point, you descend through Juniper trees and occasional slick rock sections to complete the loop back to the top of Thread the Needle. From this point, you'll hike the first part of the trail in reverse. Enjoy the journey but keep an eye out for other users and desert wildlife.