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Quail Creek to Tipple Trail Ride
  includes Red Reef East

The Quail Creek to Tipple loop ride is a popular option in the Red Cliffs recreation area west of Harrisburg. There are many options for longer versions of this ride. I'll be describing the shorter (4.9 mile) and most popular version. You can arrive at the loop from the White Reef or Red Reef trailheads in the recreation area, or tie in from the Prospector trail, or even ride to it on dirt roads from Wells Fargo in Silver Reef.

Looking at the red Navajo cliffs from the Red Reef East trail. Review and photos by Bruce on February 12, 2022.

The Red Cliffs recreation area is maintained by the BLM. Trailheads have bathrooms and water, and there are shaded picnic facilities at the Red Reef trailhead. There's a fee for day use ($5 per car in 2022). For other trails in this area, see the Red Cliffs trailhead-area page, the Prospector Trail page, and the White Reef to Leeds Reef page.

My description of the ride assumes you'll be starting from the White Reef trailhead just off I-15. Note that the area near this trailhead was severely burned by a fire in 2020, but the western side of this loop ride was not affected.

Step-over exit from the White Reef trailhead, with map and fee station.

Starting from the White Reef trailhead, pedal west 0.2 miles on White Reef and turn left on the Adams trail. This is the second option on your left, 0.2 miles from the trailhead, and just after passing the entry to the Leeds Reef trail on your right.

Cross the Cordura trail, then in 0.1 miles, cross the bridge over Quail Creek and make a hard right onto the Prospector Connector.

Southbound on the Adams trail, heading towards Quail Creek.

After 0.1 miles on the Prospector Connector (mile 0.3 from the trailhead), turn right onto the Quail Creek trail. The first half mile of this trail will be riparian habitat, but many mature trees were killed by the fire in 2020. So it's a bit weird.

Looking west as the Quail Creek trail forks away from the Prospector Connector.

After heading west for about 0.4 miles, it's time to cross Quail Creek again. This time, there's no bridge. But the creek is a bit smaller because we're now above the confluence with Leeds Creek. On my February ride, coasting through wet the lower half of both shoes but nothing came over the top to get inside.

Dropping down into Quail Creek and up the other side!

Now you'll follow the northern flank of the creek as you continue to the west toward the Red Cliffs.

After dipping through the creek, you'll ride winding trail through a sage and juniper environment.

The Quail Creek trail climbs away from the creek at around mile 0.8 of the ride. Here the brush has not burned, and you'll enjoy a ride through giant cactus, brittle sage, mesquite, and the occasional cedar.

Granite boulders and giant cactus and a Rocky Mountain bike.

After one mile on Quail Creek (mile 1.3 of the loop), the trail ends at a T intersection with the Anasazi trail. Turn to the right here, and we'll take Anasazi 0.1 miles to Metate, which will shortcut over to the Red Reef East trail in 0.1 miles. (See the main Red Cliffs page for close-up details of the trails near the Red Reef trailhead.)

(If you need water or want a shaded table for lunch, you can fork left and follow Anasazi to the campground loop and day-use area. But my loop-ride recommendation is designed to keep you away from crowds of hikers as much as possible.)

Approaching the end of Quail Creek. For photos and detailed description of the Anasazi trail area, see the Red Cliffs page.

There's another connector between Anasazi and Red Reef East. This one is just 100 yards outside the campground area, called Mano. This option would add around 0.4 miles to the ride: Instead of turning right on Anasazi from Quail Creek, turn left. As you approach the campground, fork right onto Mano and pedal up to the step-over gate for Red Reef East and turn right to head north.

Northbound on Red Reef East. After a bit of cruising in the wash bottom, you'll climb out onto a low ridge of sage.

There's a dinosaur trackway just off Red Reef East. It's 0.2 miles from the campground and marked by a tiny sign just off the trail. If you followed my advice to take Metate over to Red Reef East, you'll need to take a small detour to see them: instead of turning right on Red Reef East, keep straight and cross the wash. Just uphill is the path to the tracks. Then turn around to go back east on Red Reef East.

Yep. Them's footprints. Fer sure.

The broad old ATV path of Red Reef East narrows to new singletrack and winds through tall brush generally eastbound. There will be a little gentle up-and-down, but the riding is fairly flat and non-technical. You'll be gradually gaining around 100 feet of elevation as you proceed east.

Twisting through the gooseberry bushes on Red Reef East.

After 0.5 miles on Red Reef East (assuming you took the Metate cutoff instead of going to the campground area), you'll reach a trail intersection. To your right is the singletrack portion of the Tipple Trail. Fork off Red Reef East to continue the loop.

As we gain elevation and ride further from the cliffs, the terrain changes to mesquite and brittle sage.

Option:  upper Silver Reef

Were you to continue on Red Reef East, it will turn northwest. The official singletrack trail ends at a gate 1/4 mile later. The doubletrack dirt road that the singletrack replaced continues northwest for 2.5 miles and ends on paved roads in western (uphill) Silver Reef.

Looking south on Red Reef East near the trail's end at the Silver Reef dirt road.

From the Red Reef East trail, the Tipple Trail initially turns to the south. Over 0.3 miles, you'll drop 100 vertical feet before splashing through Leeds Creek. (Assuming there's enough water there to splash.)

Entry to the Tipple Trail singletrack from Red Reef East. We're looking south.

After crossing the creek, the Tipple trail begins climbing. The target is the top of White Reef, where the Tipple trail will join an old mining road.

A dip through Leeds Creek.

Climbing away from Leeds Creek on the Tipple trail.
We're heading for the ridge on the skyline.
The trail has meandered back southbound as it traverses a rock
outcrop. It will turn north again.
From the creek crossing you'll climb 0.5 miles and 150 vertical feet to reach the old mine road. The last 100 yards has the most pitch, but isn't too tough. At the doubletrack, you'll have spent 0.8 miles on Tipple, and you're at mile 3.1 of the loop ride. Keep to the left and northbound on the Tipple doubletrack.

(To the right, the old dirt road continues 1/10th mile to a saddle. This is a popular lunch spot with spectacular views.)

Last bit of climbing. The carsonite post marks where the singletrack joins the old mine road.

The old doubletrack will descend along the top of the reef. You'll want to take a break to look at the spectacular views!

Rolling along the top of the reef. You can see the tipple (the small dark spot mid-upper) ahead.

You'll pass the old tipple on your right once the slope flattens. If you Google "tipple" you'll learn about drinking alcohol. But a tipple is a structure that brings the mined material (in this case silver-containing sandstone) up above ground level where it can be dumped from ore-carts into other vehicles (such as mule-drawn wagons) for transportation to the nearby processing facility.

The tipple. So if you stop here and pull the beer out of your backpack, are you tippling on the tipple?

At mile 1.0 of the Tipple Trail, the Adit trail forks away to the right (mile 3.3 of the loop). This singletrack descends 0.1 miles down to the northern end of the White Reef trail. (If you want to descend Leeds Reef, stay on Adit to climb the other side of the shallow valley, then turn right when Adit joins Leeds Reef.)

Another option is to continue on the Tipple Trail dirt road for another half mile. As a second dirt road comes in from the right (mile 3.8 from the trailhead), turn hard right 150 degrees. That doubletrack will become the singletrack Leeds Reef.

Looking up at Adit from the junction with White Reef.

If you took the Adit trail to White Reef, here's your payoff. White Reef is a gentle smooth descent where you can fly. You'll spend 1.4 miles descending 300 vertical feet. The loop is complete at mile 4.9 as you arrive back at the White Reef trailhead.

View downhill as we blaze south on White Reef to complete the loop.

 Video of 5-mile loop with Quail, Red Cliffs, Tipple, White Reef...

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

Getting there:
From St George, take the Hurricane (Highway 9) exit from I-15. At the Telegraph Street (Highway 212) traffic light 1 mile later, turn left. Drive 4 miles northeast on Old Highway 91. At Harrisburg, turn left to the tunnel under the freeway and duck under both sides of I-15.
If southbound on I-15, exit at Leeds. Turn right under the freeway, then right onto Old Highway 91 southbound through town. At Harrisburg 3.4 miles later, turn to the right and go under the freeway on a narrow single-lane road.

White Reef trailhead:  After passing under I-15, turn right at the T intersection. Follow the road as it turns left and enter the parking area. Self-service fee envelopes are at the step-over for the White Reef trail at the southwest corner of the parking area. 

Red Reef trailhead: At the T intersection after passing under I-15, go left. Cross Quail Creek and follow the road towards the cliffs. Pay the entry fee at the station (or self-serve if unoccupied). The Red Reef East trail and the Anasazi trail have separate entrances on the northern side of the loop road and are not directly accessed from the parking lot.

Both trailheads have a bathroom and water. Camping and picnic tables are available at Red Reef. Note there is a $5 per car fee (2022 price) for day use of the Red Cliffs recreation area.

For other trails in this area, see the Red Cliffs trailhead-area page, the White Reef to Leeds Reef trail page, and the Prospector Trail page.

Silver Reef:  Take the Silver Reef I-15 exit and head west, following the signs to Silver Reef. Find the parking area just south of the Wells Fargo building. Work southwest on dirt roads until you arrive at the fork between the Tipple trail and the Leeds Reef trail, both of which are dirt roads at that point. The intersection is not marked. GPS navigation is recommended.
Cottonwood Trailhead (for Prospector Trail):
  Take the UT-9 exit from I-15 (highway 9 goes to Hurricane, Zion Canyon, Grand Canyon) about 15 miles north of St. George. Turn towards Hurricane and pass Coral Canyon. Instead, drive to the traffic light in 0.7 miles. Turn left on Old Highway 91. Now go exactly 2 miles north. Watch on your left for a gravel road that enters a tiny single-lane slot under the freeway, with a sign that says "Cottonwood Trailhead". It will be between a beer warehouse labeled Winkel Distributing and a Rocky Mountain Power office. Turn left and drive 0.25 miles under both lanes of the freeway to reach the trailhead. Follow the Cottonwood Trail 0.5 miles then veer left at two forks that are about 50 feet apart. The Prospector Trail will parallel the freeway heading south 3 miles. If you want, turn left when it intersects the Church Rocks Loop and ride the loop clockwise. The ride will be about 11 miles.
Grapevine Trailhead (for Prospector Trail):  On I-15 just north of Washington, take exit 13 for Washington Parkway. Turn north on Washington Parkway toward the mountain (left if you're coming from St.G). The road will end immediately after the northern off-ramp. Continue straight onto dirt (note: will change as area develops). 100 yards later, pass through fence and park. N37 08.981 W113 29.430. The ride starts on the dirt road that's to your right as you go through the fence, heading northeast parallel to the freeway. As the road turns west (left), find the singletrack trail that continues north. Follow it to the top of the hill. Straight ahead is a steep rocky plunge into the wash. If you go left 1/4 mile, there's an alternate trail that's a calmer smoother ride. It will take you down through the wash to the southwest corner of the Church Rocks Loop. To get directly to Prospector, fork right.
Riding resources for this trail:
GPS track files (right-click and "Save as..."):
      Red Cliffs Recreation Area multi-track file
      Prospector trail    Silver Reef tracks 
Maps for printing:  View riding area   White Reef TH    Red Reef TH
Lodging, camping, shops:   Links to St. George area resources

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