The Ashdown Gorge is located on the boundary line of Cedar Breaks National Monument, and lies within the Ashdown Gorge Wilderness near Cedar City, Utah. The trail starts by following the Rattlesnake Creek Trail at 10,500 ft, and eventually drops into the gorge descending a total of 4,100 ft. This route is best done point-to-point, with 1 over night backpacking. You can definitely do this in one day, but to really experience the canyon and take your time, backpacking this trail is perfect.
This depends on your experience, fitness level, pack weight and weather. There are no technical areas of the route, but hiking through sand, brush, and a rocky stream are required. You should have a few backpacking trips under your belt, and be comfortable carrying up to 30-40 lbs for hours on end. As always, the lighter your pack, the easier your hike will be.
The girl gang is ready to go! Just beyond the boards you’ll see the official Rattlesnake Creek sign.
You’ll also quickly pass the Ashdown Gorge Wilderness sign. Keep in mind that you are starting at 10,500 ft and the temperatures can be much cooler, even in the Summer. From here you’ll follow the Cedar Breaks NM boundary fence for a little bit and come to what looks like a trail split.
At the trail split, go left to see the first overlook into Cedar Breaks.
Go back to the trail split, and stay straight/right. You’ll immediately start descending into the forest.
There were lots of tree obstacles – I called the ranger after our trip to let them know the trail needs some maintenance so hopefully it will be better soon. There were more trees down than I could count, but fairly easy to maneuver around.
Love these tall trees! Plenty of shade.
At a second trail split, go left again and you will come to another overlook.
Continue down the main trail.
More tree crossings – this one provided for a quick break of the pack weight!
You’ll reach a small, open meadow with a lot of Aspen trees.
A few hours into the hike we take our first break. The dogs obviously never get fed, so they tried to sneak some bites.
Around 3 miles you’ll reach Stud Flat, which is just above Rattlesnake Creek. It’s a very large open meadow, but cairns lead the way.
Don’t forget to look back through Stud Flat – a band of red rocks can be seen to the NE.
After Stud Flat you’ll hike down several long switchbacks, and will start to hear the creek below.
We reached the first campsite at mile 4.5. We were still feeling pretty good, so we skipped this one and kept hiking. This would be an excellent site though if you wanted a shorter first day.
Just after the first campsite you’ll cross Rattlesnake Creek for the first time. You don’t need water shoes yet though.
Wow! The first real view of the creek was so pretty!
The girls check out a possible 2nd campsite only 15 minutes past the first campsite. However, we still wanted to keep going just a little more. We all decided that the next best campsite after this would be home.
And only another 15 minutes we reached the first trail split. You do NOT want to turn right here. The trail continues left, across the creek.
And of course, we found the next best campsite that we would make home right at the trail split. It was perfect – plenty of room for 6 tents, right next to the creek, plenty of shade, logs to sit on, and a fire ring already built. We were glad we took this one because we would later find out this is the last best area to camp before crossing the creek on Day 2.
There was also some perfect hammock spots to set up and hang out.
After a little drinking, and other umm….extracurricular activities, the giggles came. We needed to get some firewood, so Cindy broke out her camp saw while we drank some more and watched her. Denise was the only one trying to help. It was hilarious!
Bear takes a nap at camp.
I hold the other Charlie, Julie’s dog. Charlie is one year old Standard Poodle, though he’s kinda small! He fit perfectly in my lap, and was a great guard dog at camp.
My Charlie, on the other hand, is 70 lbs and still believes he too, is a lap dog! He takes a nap to rest up before our big day tomorrow.
Don’t forget to look back! This is your last view of the red rock band, and view from where you hiked yesterday. All day thunder clouds threatened us, but we only got a few sprinkles on us.
Loving this canyon with the pups!
The afternoon light in the gorge was gorge-ous!
More pics with the dogs.
A few more bends in the gorge before we exit.
And more tree obstacles!
The canyon immediately opens up, however, don’t exit right away! Keep hiking until you reach the Dam.
Once you reach the Dam, you’ll know to exit out of the canyon.
There’s no trail to exit, simply hike up the steep hillside at a diagonal and you’ll be back to your car.
Hooray, the car is still there!