CEDAR CITY — Cedar City is best known for the Utah Shakespearean Festival, the Neil Simon Festival, and several other festivals, but it's also located near world-class outdoor locations.
A short drive from the city are several family-friendly hiking trails. Each hike offers something a little different from the next. There are stunning views of the city and the Great Basin regions, slot canyon hikes through rivers next to Zion National Park, gorgeous waterfalls coming down basalt cliffs and towering canyon walls amongst the Dixie National Forest and Cedar Breaks National Monument.
All the hikes are located on public lands and none of the hikes require a permit of any kind.
Each of these hikes are a few miles long or less, and in normal conditions are not challenging to anyone who hikes regularly. Families can enjoy these hikes during the day before heading to any of the festival events in the evening. There are many more trails, but here are five different hikes to enjoy in the Cedar City area.
Kanarraville Falls is a short, out-and-back hike in a slot canyon located a few miles south of Cedar City near the town of Kanarraville. The parking lot for the trailhead is actually within city limits and there is a $10 fee to park there.
After hiking along the trail for a mile with several creek crossings, the canyon narrows down to a slot canyon offering beautiful views of narrow, sandstone walls and waterfalls. In some places the canyon walls are close enough to touch both sides.
The canyon can be crowded on the weekends due to how easy it is to access.
Located on the southern end of Kanarraville is another slot canyon. This canyon is less visited than the neighboring Kanarraville Falls hike, but offers many similarities.
The trail takes hikers into a narrow canyon located a short distance from the Kolob Canyons region of Zion National Park.
Ashdown Gorge is a sampler of everything southern Utah hiking has to offer, from high alpines to narrow canyons with towering cliffs. Ashdown is an easily accessible hike in Dixie National Forest.
The trail runs alongside and in the river. A few prominent landmarks in the canyon include Flanigan’s Arch, Lake Creek waterfall and Rattlesnake Creek waterfall.
Ashdown Gorge can be accessed from many different trails. The easiest way to get into this canyon is by parking just off of Highway 14 eight miles east of Cedar City. Hikers can get down into the river and follow it upstream as far as they wish and return the way they came.
Rocky Peak is a short hike in Three Peaks Recreation Area with a 360-degree view of the Great Basin-like valleys and Cedar City.
Rocky Peak is the prominent peak in Three Peaks Recreation Area. The trail winds a mile to the summit through juniper trees. Hikers could benefit from trekking poles if the trail is too difficult to travel, but most hikers should not have issues.
A short hike located just outside Parowan, Hidden Haven or Benson Creek, takes hikers through the the forest to a waterfall coming from the plateaus above.
The trail is maintained as a wildlife management area by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. The trail is well marked and maintained. There are picnic tables and benches along the way to the waterfall.
The hiking trails in the Hidden Haven area have many forks, but many hikers either go to the waterfall or loop back around to where they diverted from the main trail.
Keith Howells is an outdoor recreation in parks and tourism major at Southern Utah University. Connect with him and learn of more adventures in southern Utah by following him on twitter, @howellsoutdoors