On Sunday, Feb. 18, I decided to hike the Rattlesnake Creek trail in Ashdown Gorge as part of a Presidents Day weekend excursion. While online sources differ on the exact length of this trail, it’s safe to assume that it’s between 10 and 12 miles long. I, along with a friend who was visiting for the weekend, packed our bags with snacks, water, flashlights and pepper spray.
This trail has two entrances. Because the Cedar Breaks road is still closed due to winter weather, we opted to begin our hike at the nearest trailhead, which is about a 10-minute drive up Cedar Canyon. The trailhead is unmarked, so we located it by looking it up on Google Street View before we left the house. We kept an eye out for familiar landmarks along the way (hint: if you can see the landslide, you’ve gone too far).
The trail itself looked like a dirt road at first, but almost as soon as we followed it around the corner from the road, we could see that there were several options for paths to take. We chose the one that went almost directly north towards the cliffs of Cedar Breaks: a wide riverbed that only had a trickle of running water.
According to the reviews on AllTrails, in the summer the water can be knee-deep for most of the hike. However, because we went so early in the season, we only had to deal with six inches of snow. The most dangerous this hike got was when we encountered a patch of snowed-over ice that the moving water had turned into a shallow overhang.
About a mile into the hike, the road that we had used at the beginning of the trail crossed the riverbed twice in several hundred feet. This road was more cleared of snow than the riverbed so we used the road for the rest of the hike.
The road followed a steady incline through a forested area for another mile. At that point, the cliffs of Cedar Breaks came into view. Before we could progress much further, however, we came across not one, not two, but five “do not trespass” signs on the road, plus some clear private property markers.
We checked our directions, which indicated that the trail (again described as being unmarked and unmaintained) was supposed to “skirt” private property and take us back to the river after a hike of several more miles.
Unfortunately, before we could find the correct trail, the weather took a turn for the worse. A Winter Weather Warning had already been issued for Iron County, so we decided to hike back at that point, before it began to snow.
This hike is one that I would recommend doing later in the spring or summer. The view it offered of Cedar Breaks was beautiful and we saw some well-preserved rabbit and deer tracks in the riverbed. But it is a trail that requires you to have good map-reading skills (that I apparently do not have) and a lot of patience.
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