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Cedar Breaks: Ashdown Gorge & Rattlesnake Creek

Ashdown Gorge Wilderness & Cedar Breaks National Monument
Friday – Sunday, June 4-6, 2021

After spending last weekend wandering around the Book Cliffs, it was time to head back into Utah for one more trip before I start spending most of my time in the mountains of Colorado. It was supposed to be another hot and windy weekend across the Colorado Plateau, so I thought this would be a good time to finally hike through Ashdown Gorge near Cedar City. This hike has been on my to-do list for over ten years now, so it was time to finally do it! Last year I had tentatively planned an overnight backpacking trip through Ashdown Gorge in the early summer with Diane and Jared, but thanks again to COVID-19, those plans were cancelled. Since Diane is now too busy with school, it would just be me and Jared going, and since the hike is not too long and mostly downhill we decided to skip the backpacking this time around and just do it as a day hike.

When I left from work on Friday afternoon my Jeep’s thermometer said it was 100 degrees out, so it was definitely going to be a hot one this weekend! I grabbed a quick dinner and then drove west into Utah. The wind was strong this afternoon and it killed my fuel mileage! I barely made it to Salina and had to fill up my tank there, and I usually fill up in Richfield. I finished my drive to Cedar City and then met up with Jared at the lower trailhead in Cedar Canyon at sunset. We caught up for a while and then got to bed so we could get an early start on Saturday morning.

I took these two shots of the canyon walls towering over us while we watched the sun set in Cedar Canyon.

Cedar Canyon View

Cedar Canyon Clouds

We got up early on Saturday morning, left my Jeep at the trailhead in Cedar Canyon and then took Jared’s Jeep up to Cedar Breaks National Monument. I’d never been to Cedar Breaks before, so as we drove through we stopped at a couple of the overlooks along the way. The area up on top of the Markagunt Plateau really reminded me of the Grand Mesa and Cedar Breaks was like a smaller version of Bryce Canyon.

Welcome to Cedar Breaks National Monument

Cedar Breaks National Monument Sign

An early morning view from Sunset Point.

Cedar Breaks

Sunset View Overlook

We also stopped at the Chessman Ridge Overlook.

Chessman Ridge

As soon as we crossed the boundary of the Monument we parked at the Rattlesnake Trailhead, then made sure we had everything we needed and entered the Ashdown Gorge Wilderness as we started our descent from the Markagunt Plateau.

Ashdown Gorge Wilderness

There were two short side trails that went to other overlooks of Cedar Breaks.

Side Overlook

White Ledge

We encountered a lot of fallen trees across the trail as we hiked through the forest. At times it was like crawling through a jungle gym.

Deadfall

The views opened up as we crossed Stud Flat, but then we entered the trees again as we continued our descent to Rattlesnake Creek.

Stud Flat

Once we reached Ashdown Creek we started heading downstream and the scenery became very spectacular!

Down to the Creek

This part of the hike was very beautiful, so I’ll let the following photos do the talking as we walked between the colorful canyon walls of Ashdown Gorge!

Under the Canyon Wall

Sunstar Alcove

Curve in the Creek

Alcove Curves

Tall Trees Sunstar

Log In the Corner

Ashdown Gorge Colors

Ashdown Gorge Bend

Ashdown Creek

Creek Curves

Alcove Trees

Alcove Within An Alcove

When we reached the confluence with Rattlesnake Creek we took the detour upstream to visit the two waterfalls found there.

Rattlesnake Creek

This was a great canyon to hike through, as well.

Narrow Canyon

Into The Alcove

Rattlesnake Canyon Alcove

Rattlesnake Canyon Light

Rattlesnake Creek Overhang

Here’s a GIF of the first small waterfall we came across just up Lake Creek.

Rattlesnake Creek Waterfall

Then we visited the larger waterfall up Rattlesnake Creek.

Rattlesnake Creek Falls

Here’s a GIF on the Rattlesnake Creek Falls.

Jared hikes ahead of me as we left the waterfall and made our way back to Ashdown Creek.

Hiking Back Out

From this point down we started to run into some groups of hikers that were coming up from the bottom to visit the waterfalls, but there weren’t as many people as I would have expected on a hike this close to town with easy access.

Light & Shadow

Once we were back in Ashdown Gorge we had to cross this natural dam made of logs that have washed down the creek. Maybe one day a big flash flood will come down the canyon and clear it…

Log Dam

Canyon Hiker

Colorful Alcove

Seeps Bend

Shortly before reaching Cedar Canyon we passed below Flanigan Arch.

Flanigan Arch

Once we reached the dam in Cedar Canyon we climbed back up to the trailhead to my Jeep and we drove back up through Cedar Breaks to get Jared’s Jeep. Then we both drove down through Parowan to complete the loop and grabbed a late lunch in Cedar City. We decided to spend the next morning in Cedar Breaks again, so when we were done eating we headed back up onto the Markagunt Plateau to find a campsite within Dixie National Forest. The elevation on top was around 10,000 feet, so it was much cooler up there and in the low 70’s.

As we were searching for a campsite we saw a big plume of smoke to the east that we would later find out was the Mammoth Creek Wildfire, which had just started earlier in the day.

Mammoth Creek Wildfire

While we were relaxing in camp the rest of the evening, we watched the planes that were fighting the fire fly overhead about every 30 minutes or so…

Fireliner

Fire 892

It had been a long day and we were both tired, so we went to bed early. On Sunday morning we woke up early and returned to the Point Supreme Overlook in Cedar Breaks to watch the sunrise.

There were even some nice clouds in the sky this morning.

Cedar Breaks Clouds

View Down The Ridge

Down Below

Today we planned to hike the Ramparts Overlook Trail and then continue past the end of the trail to see a double arch on The Bartizan.

Trailhead Sign

Looking down on Spectra Point

Spectra Point

Canyon Spires

Canyon Spires

A view across to the other side of Cedar Breaks.

The Other Side

Jared getting the shot…

Getting The Shot

We spotted this arch below the rim.

Arch Below The Rim

The reflected light in the canyons below the trail was looking good this morning.

Upper Ashdown Creek

Ramparts Overlook

Growing On The Edge

Growing On The Edge

Just before reaching the top of The Bartizan, we spotted The Bartizan Arches, which is what we had come to see.

The Bartizan Arches

The canyons below were still looking nice during our hike back to the trailhead.

Over The Edge

South Rim Glow

Colorful Cliffs

When we returned back to the trailhead it was time to start the drive back home so I didn’t return too late. We both decided to follow Utah’s Patchwork Scenic Byway back through Panguitch and then pick up I-70 in the Sevier Valley. It was a nice little scenic drive and a good way to end the weekend. I’m glad that I was finally able to check out the amazing scenery of the Ashdown Gorge after all these years!

>> Ashdown Gorge & Cedar Breaks Photo Gallery

3 Comments

  1. Tom McCoppin
    Tom McCoppin June 22, 2021

    Thanks for sharing this with us Randy! Outstanding photos! Tom McC

  2. Peter B
    Peter B June 23, 2021

    Excellent. So jealous you’re able to get to all of these amazing places. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Glenn P
    Glenn P June 28, 2021

    Bartizan Arches, who knew and I live in the area, I’ve hiked a little past Ramparts, but now I need to go even further, thanks for the insight. I’ve been a lurker of your posts for a couple of years, thoroughly enjoy them, and have adventured to some myself. Thanks!

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