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Rattlesnake Trail - Ashdown Gorge Wilderness Area

A 4 mile 3,200 foot decent through the Ashdown Gorge Wilderness Area to arrive at Rattlesnake Creek.
Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Strenuous
Length: 6.8 miles
Duration: Half day

Overview :  Just north of the Cedar Breaks National Monument boundary is the trailhead for Rattlesnake Trail. A 4 mile (one way)3,200 foot decent... more »

Tips:  Know Your Limits! Safely hiking wilderness areas depend on your own good judgment, adequate preparation, and constant attention to... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Exit Strategy #1 Return to Trailhead

The trailhead for Rattlesnake Trail is located just outside the Cedar Breaks National Monument boundaries and can be located as follows:

Parowan / Brian Head: Exit I-15 and travel East on hwy-143 through the township of Brian Head. The Trailhead for Rattlesnake Trail is located on the right hand side just before you enter Cedar Breaks National ... More

2. Exit Strategy #2 Shuttle from Ashdown Gorge

If hiking Rattlesnake Trail and Ashdown Gorge a shuttle system will need to be set up from Cedar City.

Exit I-15 (North & South Exits put you on Main Street) Locate Center Street and Main Street. Turn East on Center(hwy-14). Entering Cedar Canyon a series of bright yellow warning signs about snow conditions and travel alerts. A large... More

3. Exit Strategy #3 Shuttle from Potato Hollow / Crystal Springs

If hiking Rattlesnake Trail and weather does not permit an Ashdown Gorge exit. A shuttle system will need to be set up from Cedar City via Crystal Springs.

Exit I-15 (North & South Exits put you on Main Street) Locate Center Street and Main Street. Turn East on Center(hwy-14). After driving through the prominent "S" curve in the canyon,... More

4. Alpine Meadow Hiking

One advantage of an early start to Rattlesnake Trail is that Mule Deer are often eating in the early morning meadows. I spotted 3 fawn a 2 point buck (horns still in velvet) and 2 doe. Quick and shy it was difficult to get a good picture in the thick underbrush.

5. Cedar Breaks National Monument viewpoint #1

At two different intervals along the trail a junction will lead to the left. Make sure to hike these short side trips to the rim of Cedar Breaks National Monument.

6. Cedar Breaks National Monument viewpoint #2

The second viewpoint contains some of natures oldest living things. The Bristlecone Pine tree. Existing at high elevations on wind swept ridges these masters of survival will live up to 5,000 years.

7. Mature Aspen Groves and Hillside descent

After the second Cedar Breaks viewpoint the trail turns steep and elevation is lost. The occasional meadow gives the legs a reprieve and the mature Aspens are beautiful. Graffiti seems to occurs everywhere, and it is a shame, that all the trees along the trail a marred by names, dates and initials.

Emerging from the meadows a breathtaking view... More

8. Deep Forest Hiking

The trail continues to descend through a deep forest of pine trees and underbrush. The trail is in surprising good condition because it is not a maintained trail. Many of the fallen trees have been cut to provide easy walking, others have established walk-a-rounds that are easy to follow.

9. Stud Flat and Horned Toad

Emerging from the forest hiking you are greeted with the breathtaking view of red vistas, bright yellow wildflowers, and a gradual walk through Stud Flat. Large carins again mark the path the trail should take across the hillside if the trail is overgrown.

Ever alert to the presence of it's namesake, I caught movement out of the corner of my eye.... More

10. Decent to Rattlesnake Creek

Leaving the gentle stroll of Stud Flat you begin the decent into Rattlesnake Creek. A steep series of switchbacks begin and the forest changes from Aspen, Spruce, and Fur pine trees to a mixture containing Juniper.

The sound of water greets your ears as Rattlesnake Creek makes it's way to join Lake Creek in Ashdown Gorge.

Just to prove the... More

11. Rattlesnake Creek

Rattlesnake Creek is reached and after expecting a torrent of water based on the amount of noise echoing down the canyon I am pleased to find a gentle stream of cool snow runoff making its way.

If your Exit Strategy is #1, enjoy the stream, eat lunch and relax. This is a beautiful location with mature Ponderosa Pine trees and plenty of shade... More

12. Creek Bottom to High Mountain Trail Junction

Try not to get your feet wet crossing Rattlesnake Creek. The trail continues on the West side of the creek for another mile before it connects with the High Mountain Trail. The trail is easy to follow as it wanders up and down the hillside following the stream.

13. High Mountain Trail Junction and Campsite

At this junction the High Mountain Trail merges with Rattlesnake Trail. High Mountain Trail could be another Exit Strategy and create a loop trail. A shuttle system would need to be set up outside Brian Head.

The trail crosses Rattlesnake creek again and in the shade of some pine trees is a campsite complete with fire pit and stone seating.

... More

14. Crossing the Divide

Crossing the ridge line brings back into view Cedar Breaks National Monument. The entire ridgeline including Blowhard peak comes into view. Dropping in elevation again glimpses of the shear walls of Ashdown Gorge begin to appear as you make your way toward Potato Hollow and the beginning of the slot canyon.

15. Ashdown Gorge, Potato Hollow / Crystal Springs Junction

Arriving at the creek it becomes clear that this is the spillway from Cedar Breaks National Monument. Arch Creek, Shooting Star Creek, and Spring Creek have all combined forces at this juncture. Red rock litter the riverbed, also composite rock and the remains of Lake Bonneville can be noted in the seashell rock formations.