Desert Adventure for the Whole Family
The Great Outdoors. Clean Fresh Air. Spectacular Scenery. These are the things we love about visiting St. George. We love that don’t have to all pile in the car and drive to some far distant trail head. We just tie up our laces and in less than 20 minutes we can be in the middle of desert solitude.
A great place to start is Washington City’s Hell Hole Trailhead. The trailhead itself starts in a empty lot where Washington Parkway dead ends into Telegraph Road. It is well marked and easy to locate. Bikers of all levels, kids on scooters, skateboarders and runners will enjoy miles of uninterrupted paved trail from this starting point.
We took a short walk to the entrance of the Sienna Hills Neighborhood and headed exactly due east on Washington Parkway to Telegraph Road. At the T, there is a clearly marked signed locating the “Hell Hole Trailhead” We followed a dirt path for a few yards until the paved trail emerged. From there we made our descent into Hell!
Ok it sounds dramatic and the steep incline at the beginning was exciting, but there was no hell-fire or brimstone. We walked about .3 miles down the paved trail noticing the unusual rock formations and appreciating the scattered spots of shade created by the cliffs. At this point Cottonwood Trail coming from the north connects. We continued heading southeast along the trail. Soon we could hear the gurgle of water. It was such a delightful surprise in the middle of the desert landscape! After about .2 of a mile we came to the Virgin River trail and the Virgin River itself. The walk was delightful. We had a group that included grandma and grandpa, aunts and uncles and children ranging from 7-year-olds to teenagers. There was plenty of space for us to walk together as long as we were mindful to move to the right so bikers could pass around. We saw a variety of birds and the kids enjoyed scampering on the unusal rock formations. There were beautiful vistas that stretched all the way out to the cliffs around Zion National Park.
Once at the Virgin River Trail portion, bikers/runners etc can follow the trail south through parts of Washington City including the city’s Sullivan Virgin River Soccer Park. This park might be the perfect destination for your turn-around point. It’s about 1.5 miles walk along the path from the Hell Hole Trailhead. This park is chock full of amenities including a stocked fishing pond and splash pad. There are also 4 full size soccer fields, 6 pickleball courts, playgrounds, gardens BBQ areas and a large pavilion.
The Park might also be a great spot for your family reunion to meet up for lunch and let the kids burn off some energy. Older members of the group can easily drive to the park and enjoy the spot together before the bikers and runners head back home.
For those looking to get more milage, the Virgin River Trail continues further south. The trail itself is covers about 8.2 miles of terrain, but combined with other intersecting trails it can provide over 25 miles of uninterrupted paved access. There are also many services along most of the paths including restrooms, drinking water, shelters, picnic areas, information kiosks and access to some city parks.
We turned around after following the Virgin River trail to the north for about half a mile. We retraced our steps and headed back home. The hike back out was steep but no one seemed to complain. All in all it was about and hour walk, easy for all abilities with beautiful scenery and unexpected riparian landscapes.
Trailhead: Hell Hole
Distance: .5 miles until intersection with Virgin River Trail
Use: Paved trail. Wheelchair accessible. Perfect for bikers, scooters, skateboards or runners
Noteworthy: Weeping rocks, Riparian vegetation, birdwatching
Be Aware: Do not confuse this trailhead with the hiking trail in Ivins by Kayenta. It is also called Hell Hole. That hike is rated difficult; it is an out and back hike to the cliffs of the Red Cliffs Reserve.