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The C Trail  

The C Trail is Cedar City's incredible classic downhill romp. (It can also be a climbing trail.) NOT a trail for beginning riders, this is a super-twisty flight straight down Cedar Mountain to the edge of the city. The downhill singletrack is 4.5 miles in length, dropping 2300 vertical feet (peak altitude 8400 ft), and would be rated advanced-intermediate technical. The loop using Greens Lake Drive is 10.5 miles and is very strenuous aerobic.

View west over Cedar City, from the viewpoint at the top of the trail. You can see the unique basin-and-range topography of the Great Basin from here. Review by Bruce Argyle on September 15, 2001. Updated May 2017.

You can ride this trail four ways: (1) Point-to point with a shuttle. Have somebody drive 12 miles to the overlook, then bomb down to town. (2) Out-and-back. A brutal granny-gear proposition, but it can be done. (3) Road tour. Ride pavement up the canyon (towards Cedar Breaks) and turn right on the Kolob Reservoir road, then hit the trail for a 16-mile loop. (4) "Allergic to Pavement" or "Take your Doggie" Loop. Head past the lower trailhead to climb a steep dirt road for a 10.5 mile loop. See below for details.

Above:  Looking up at the "C" on the mountain (the white spot near the ridgeline), you may not believe it, but you're heading almost straight up -- and back down -- this slope.

The trail heads downhill through a gazillion tight turns. If you're a bit timid (or have the habit of getting off your bike) when you hit switchback turns on singletrack, you MUST do this trail. It will make you an expert. All the turns are rideable without tricky stuff, but you need confidence, good balance, and excellent braking control. It's NOT a trail for your overweight neighbor's first dirt ride.

Bruce heads down the trail with Jackie right behind. This photo is from September 2001, courtesy of a teenage hiker from Cedar City.

If you're a rider who wants to "Earn your Vertical," I suggest you ride the all-weather dirt road (Greens Lake Drive) up to the Cedar Highlands homes. Contining a mile further up the road, you'll reach the Kolob Reservoir road just a few feet from the turnoff to the C Trail. This is a brutal (10% average grade) uphill in the hot sun, so either go early or plan on taking a few cool-down breaks.

A nice alternative climbing route is to go up Lichen It, then Green Hollow, before making the final bit of grunt climbing on Greens Lake Drive. This loop is just over 15 miles.

View towards the ridgeline from the Greens Lake (Cedar Highlands) Drive, where the slope mellows a bit. The white rocks near the top are Navajo Sandstone, upthrust here by the Hurricane Fault.

Once you reach the homes, the road will become Cedar Highlands Drive. Keep on this main road until you reach the paved Kolob Reservoir road at mile 5.7. Turn left and cross the cattle guard, then turn left onto the dirt road leading to the overlook. The trail drops off on the left-hand side of the overlook.

Ready to start the ride, but first we check the interpretive signs at the viewpoint. Need to learn more geek stuff.

Most of the trail is a fairly wide singletrack on hard base, with a bit of loose rock. At the top, there's a short section of smooth dark dirt among bitterbrush, maple, and pine, then the trail drops through junipers on the clay, mudstone, and sandstone strata of the Triassic Period.

Most of the turns are bermed nicely. There's a high rock-to-soil ratio here, so the chunks can make grip dicey for low-tread XC tires.

The upper half of the trail sees less TLC from volunteer trailworkers. So it's narrower, rockier, and tougher to ride.

Once you get into the last couple of miles, the trail is plush and ready to rip. Watch for hikers, though, because this is a very popular route for foot soldiers.

Handlebar view, about a mile from the bottom.

Update June 2017, Highlands Trail

At mile 1.8 from the top (N37 38.702 W113 02.777), the new Highlands trail will be the left fork. This trail takes you down to the Green Hollow trailhead (and Green Hollow trail). Opened in July 2017, the Highlands also provides an alternate climbing route to the top of the C Trail, by starting at the Southview Trailhead and climbing Lichen It, Green Hollow, and Highlands.

Looking west on the C Connector trail.


 If the above video does not appear on your browser/device, you can watch it on YouTube by clicking here.

Out-and-Back: Leave your car at the parking area near the water tank (see below). Cross the paved trail and find uphill trail to the north of the flood control basin. A trailhead sign is hidden behind the trees about 30 feet up the trail to tell you that you found the right strip of dirt. Now head uphill.

Yes, you can ride the C-trail uphill. Yes, it's hard. But the pitches are OK for climbing.

Looking north toward the Red Hill area as Bruce rounds a turn.

Loop using Greens Lake Drive: As above, leave your car near the water tank (see map). Climb to the paved trail southbound, then watch for a spot to jump onto the levee to your left and continue south. Cross TWO flood control basins, aiming for the homes just downhill from the second water tank. As you draw near the homes, spot a path between the homes and drop onto a street, still heading south. About 100 yards later at mile 1.35, the street will reach Greens Lake Drive, a paved road heading east uphill. Turn left and start uphill. The road immediately turns to gravel and becomes steep. 

Navigating the rocks.

Getting there, base of C Trail:  On Cedar City's north-south Main Street, turn east (towards the mountain) on 400 South. Drive to 300 East and turn right (south). At 820 South, the pavement of 300 East ends near water tanks and the paved East Bench trail. Continue straight onto dirt road and drive about 100 yards to an unmarked and unimproved parking zone.

For the shuttle option or road loop, head back north on 300 East to 400 South, then jog east (right) one block, turn north again on 400 East. At Center Street, turn right (east towards the mountains) and head up the canyon. Five miles up the canyon, turn right on the Kolob Reservoir road. Watch for a tiny sign marking the C Overlook at mile 4.6, just before a fence with a cattleguard. Turn right into the parking area of the overlook.

One-page printable trail guide
GPS track files (right-click and "Save as..."):
    Garmin       GPX 
Topo map for printing:    High-res view
Lodging, camping, shops:     Links to Cedar City area resources

Copyright 2002 Mad Scientist Software Inc. Updated 2017.