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City Creek Trail
(plus Rusty Cliffs)

Beginning on Red Hills Parkway (formerly Turtle Road) above the red cliffs north of St. George, the City Creek trail offers some rocky options. While located right on the edge of the city, the rough terrain makes this an upper-intermediate trail in technical requirement.

The trail runs up and over three hills among small outcrops of sandstone. Original review June 21, 2002 by Bruce, with new photos and update December 6, 2017.

The City Creek trail can be done as an out-and-back, or as a loop by using the paved Red Hills Parkway trail. The singletrack is 2.5 miles in length, with 300 vertical feet of climbing in either direction.

Step-over gate at the eastern end of the trail. Both ends of the trail are on the paved Red Hills Parkway Trail, just 1.1 miles apart.

You can reach the trail on the eastern end from the Pioneer Hills trailhead on Red Hills Parkway, adding 0.3 miles of paved trail to reach the singletrack (see map). Or you can pedal from town on the parkway trail to reach the step-over gates on either end of City Creek.

Heading uphill on the first part of a clockwise ride, with the Pine Valley Mountains in the background.

Most of the trail is intermediate technical, with a smattering of advanced technical rough rock thrown in. This route is NOT appropriate for beginning riders. There will be technical challenges both uphill and down, whichever direction you ride the trail.

One of the City Creek Trail's local residents out for a stroll. Do NOT touch the turtles. This trail is in the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve -- you break the rules, and bike trails will be history.

Climbing the stairs on an east-to-west ride.

Descending stairs on the east-to-west ride.

My favorite ride is a quick four-mile loop ride from the Pioneer Hills trailhead. Right at the entry to the parking area, a cement pathway parallels the highway heading downhill and north. After 100 yards, it turns under the parkway. Turn left (uphill) as you reach the paved Red Hills Parkway trail. Pedal uphill just over 0.1 miles, then go to the step-over gate on your right.

Cruising westbound on a rare stretch of flat trail after climbing the first of three hills.

The initial climb will take you up to the junction with the Owen's Trail connector. Fork hard right to stay on City Creek. (If you're hungry for miles, you can do Owen's, then come back to City Creek.)

After a bit of flat riding, you'll descend on rough trail down to City Creek itself. After riding northeast along the creek, you'll go cross over as you hit the parkway. After you climb away from the creek, there's a connector to the paved trail on your right -- in case you need to bail.

Descending toward City Creek. The actual (usually dry) creek is in the gully. We'll go right down to the bank.

The trail will now descend slightly to the west and circle a sandstone canyon. It will flirt with the edge of the golf course.

Next comes a bit of nice Navajo sandstone slickrock. Play for a minute if you're tempted. Unfortunately the slickrock section is short.

Rolling over slickrock.

From the slickrock area, the trail climbs to the third and final hill. There are some nice views from the summit.

Heading up toward the final summit.

From this hill, the trail turns north and descends down to the Red Hills Parkway. Step across the gate, turn right, and pedal the pavement back to the underpass to complete the loop. Or turn around and do City Creek in the opposite direction for a 5.6-mile, 650-vertical out-and-back.

Views from the top. We're looking northeast.


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About Rusty Cliffs...

The Rusty Cliffs trail is across the road and downhill from the western end of the City Creek trail. Rusty Cliffs was an old pioneer road. Not many people ride it because, frankly, it really doesn't offer much. Last time I rode it (2008), it was hard to find the bush-whacking entry to the trail. See the topo map link below if you plan to look for this trail.

View from the Rusty Cliffs trail, as we follow the old pioneer road.

Getting there, Pioneer Hills trailhead: From St. George Blvd (the main drag), head north on Main Street (towards the "Dixie" painted on the big rock above the cliffs). When you reach Hope Street, turn right, then immediately take the left fork and climb Skyline Drive to the top of the cliffs. Turn left on Red Hills Parkway (labeled Skyline Drive on some city maps, and still called Turtle Road by many locals). After the top of the hill, turn right into the parking area. The trail starts across the road. Find the paved (cement) trail descending north and crossing under the parkway. Turn left (back uphill) on the Red Hills Parkway Trail. After 1/10th mile, look for the stepover gate.
Western trail entry from town:  At the intersection of Red Hills Parkway (where it becomes Snow Canyon Parkway) and Bluff Street, exit the Snow Canyon paved trail to head east uphill on the paved Red Hills Parkway Trail. After 1/4 mile, find the step-over gate to the City Creek trail.

Bathrooms:  None
Water:  None

Riding resources for this trail:
Single-page riding guide
GPS track files (right-click and "Save as..."):
    GPX track of loop above    Area multi-track file
Maps of trail system for printing:  Aerial as above    Desert Preserve area topo
Lodging, camping, shops:   Links to St. George area resources

Original ride 2002. Last updated 2017.
Copyright 2002 Mad Scientist Software Inc