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An amazing loop combining all the best of the Red Cliffs area

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3,753' 1,144 m


3,055' 931 m


860' 262 m


855' 261 m



Avg Grade (2°)


Max Grade (12°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Waterfall

Between the moki steps and Prospector Trail, it's off-trail navigation in infrequently traveled drainages with no signage.


This loop combines the best of the trails in the Red Cliffs Desert Conservation Area/Preserve. It includes deep chiseled canyons, some scrambling, vast views of far off bluffs and mountains, and plenty of wildflowers if you time it right.

Need to Know

This is a National Conservation Area. As of December 2021, day use requires a $5 fee or Interagency Annual, Access, Senior, Volunteer, or Military Pass.

Don't count on any water being available. Bring plenty.


Note: The third obstacle as described (8 foot high of very smooth rock, found at approximately 2.8 miles into the loop as mapped and described going counter clockwise) is a significant and maybe dangerous challenge. You'll not be chimneying up a narrow slot gap but rather a quite wide gap where if you lose traction you could possibly take a very unpleasant fall/slide down. For experienced canyoneers, probably not an issue. As I see it, even with an assist, getting the last person up would be a challenge as there is nothing for the person at the top to anchor to from what I saw. Also, the second obstacle has good hand/foot holds but the rope is gone (9/30/22). Finally, there is an alternate route you can take that avoids this third obstacle by taking the the left fork canyon (going SW) at approximately 2.6 miles in that will reconnect with the loop. You'll need to use route finding abilities/GPS as there is no trail (which most of this loop is not a trail as described as well).

I chose to start at the White Cliffs TH. This is a more peaceful parking area than the starting point for the Red Reef Trail. I headed down the road to connect with High Grade in order to get to Quail Creek. However, to avoid the road you can head straight out on the trail from White Cliffs and just drop down to the stream (I was not aware they connected at the time).

Quail Creek is a lovely, though short trail that starts to take you closer to the Red Cliffs. This will soon connect with the Anasazi Trail, where you'll hang a left to head into the parking area/campground. At this point, the Red Reef Trail begins. The first mile of this trail is where you'll see 95% of the people on this loop. It starts going though a sandy area before beginning to get into the canyon. There are two or three waterfalls, when water is flowing. These are the main destinations of visitors.

The first waterfall has an easy path up and around it, to the left. The second requires a bit more work, with footholds carved into the rock and a rope placed to help. This second obstacle filters most people out. The next is a fall about 8 feet high of very smooth rock. This filters out the rest of the crowd. You can get up it if you shimmy between the two walls. It'll help to have a friend but can be done solo.

Beyond this point you'll be rewarded for your effort by, likely, a completely solitary experience deep in the beauty of the red rock and all of its geological insanity. I have no idea what forces created those rocks and patterns. It makes my head hurt but it's gorgeous.

The third obstacle is only about 1 mile up Red Reef Trail. You'll need to take a left up another canyon to stay on the trail about another .5 miles up (1 mile tops). Keep a look out for footprints going up a canyon to the left. Continue up that canyon, following the drainage. You'll eventually climb over the ridges line and drop into another drainage on the other side. This drainage is less exciting than the first, but is still a beautiful stretch.

Eventually you'll drop down until it simply becomes a wash. When this wash, which is red sand, merges with another wash, which is grey, cross this new wash and go up over the other side and look for the trail to hang a left, generally following the creek, then veering further away. Shortly, this will take you to Prospector Trail. For the first stretch of this trail, the views are simply amazing. The layers of topography is something you'll only find in SW Utah, with snow capped mountains (at the rights time of year), bluffs, canyons, crags, etc... The layering is amazing.

Take Prospector Trail back to High Grade, or back to the way you took to get to Quail Creek, and head back to your vehicle from there.


Shared By:

Jason Doedderlein with improvements by fossana and 1 other

Trail Ratings

  4.2 from 6 votes


in White Reef


  4.2 from 6 votes
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Red Reef Trail
Oct 8, 2019 near Leeds, UT
Red Reef Trail
Nov 24, 2019 near Leeds, UT
View from the trail
Feb 4, 2022 near Leeds, UT
View from the trail
Feb 4, 2022 near Leeds, UT
View from the trail
Feb 4, 2022 near Leeds, UT
Red Reef Trail
Oct 8, 2019 near Leeds, UT



Current Trail Conditions

All Clear 98 days ago
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