East Bench Trail
This trail connects with Coal Creek Trail, forking off at East Canyon Park to the south, following a southbound trail just east of Cedar City. One Way Distance: 2.65 miles
Gardner Canyon Park | 450 East Center Street
Born in 1888, Ann J Gardner was the daughter of Cedar City pioneers Lehi and Henrietta Jones, and was active in the civic affairs of the city. She served on Cedar City’s first planning commission but her ultimate dream was to build a park in the mouth of Cedar Canyon. She paid for the plans to be drawn and watched its development by the City. She passed away December of 1970 before it was completed. *Ann’s son is Lehi Robert Gardner, aka Bob Gardner was a regionally acclaimed architect famous for his distinctive mid-century modern style prevalent throughout Cedar City. Bob designed the old Cedar city Library on Center Street and the Cedar High School.
Squaw Cave | About 1/4 mile north of the 400 East Trailhead
Not much is known about how this steep narrow canyon and cave got its name. The only known written reference comes from historian William Palmer who once referred to the cave in his writings about the Old Spanish Trail. The trail, which runs through Cedar City, was a popular trade route from Sante Fe to California from 1830 until the mid-1850s. It wasn’t uncommon for American Indians to be captured along the route and led for hundreds of miles on foot to camps where they were sold into slavery According to Palmer, one day, a native girl escaped her captors and ran towards the hills near Cedar City with one of her captors in hot pursuit. She climbed a 60-foot cliff where she found a cave to hide. As she watched her pursuer come closer, she readied herself to jump, possibly to her death, in order to avoid capture. Just in time, the man turned away and she hid inside the cave until nightfall. When it was safe she ran further into the mountains, walking for days until she found a camp and luckily was reunited with her betrothed. You can explore the cave but with caution, the trail is steep and the surface is slippery so you are entering at your own risk.
Since its settlement in 1851, Cedar City was prone to flooding as it sits in a major flood plain. The mountains of Cedar Mountain drain into Cedar Canyon, Fiddlers Canyon, Dry Canyon, Squaw Creek, and Green’s Lake so it’s not surprising that heavy summer thunderstorms could cause great damage. In 1958, the Green’s Lake Watershed Project was built; a series of three basins to catch floodwater you see along the foothills of the East Bench Trail. They were built just in time as a major thunderstorm hit on August 17th that same year. Cedar City’s streets became virtual rivers but over 160 feet of floodwater was diverted to the basins. They held perfectly and the damage was minimal. Modern engineering and planning, the basins are no longer needed for flood mitigation.
A to C. The letter on the mountain | C trailhead, 1/2 mile south of the East Bench trailhead on 400 East
As you walk along the trail, you might notice a large “C” on the mountain above. Originally, the letter was an “A” to represent the Branch Agricultural School(BAC), now Southern Utah University. It was constructed by BAC students in the fall of 1912. In 1959, some high school students, lead by David Humphreys, championed to change it a “C” to represent Cedar High School. Utilizing as much of the material from the original A, students moved rocks and the senior class whitewashed them so the C would stand out from the mountain landscape. Thus starting the tradition that each year the senior class would whitewash and clean up the C during Homecoming week. For years, the C would be lit on fire on graduation night by the Junior class using tires and wood. Due to the possibility of wildland fire and more homes being built in Cedar Highlands, the C is rarely set ablaze anymore.
Standing at 88 feet tall, developers claimed the Cedar City Providence Center Lighthouse was the tallest inland lighthouse in the United States when constructed in 2000. The lighthouse is 450 miles away from the nearest ocean, it’s never guided any ships, and it doesn’t have a lighthouse keeper. The lighthouse was originally built to be an icon that would set Providence Center apart from other developments in Utah. But there’s also an underlying reason for its construction. According to local legend, it was built in preparation for a big earthquake when California may drop off into the ocean, at which time the lighthouse in Cedar City, Utah will be the only lighthouse standing on the ‘new’ Pacific Coast of the United States.
Sheep Tunnel | Junction of Greens Lake and Old Highway 91
In the late ’90s, a conflict between developers and the Iron County stockmen was putting a stop to the construction of the Providence Center Shopping District. A historic livestock trail ran through the site that had been used by stockmen for over 100 years. A prescriptive easement protected the historical trail and allowed ranchers to move their herds to and from the pastures of Cedar Mountain to the west desert country unobstructed. However, developers were concerned for the safety of shoppers and residents with the increase of traffic to the area. A plan was devised to divert the herds through a tunnel system under the Cross Hollow Road and the mile-long “Sheep” tunnel was constructed. Yet, no one considered the wild and wooly nature of sheep and the tunnel was only used for one season. Sheep didn’t like the dark tunnel and the noise from the traffic overhead made it unbearable for sheep and herder, both refused to move. Ultimately the Sheep tunnel was abandoned.
You can see a video of a 1,000 head of sheep using the original livestock trail through Providence Center here https://youtu.be/Te_1RoLM6hQ.
The sheep tunnels are now used as a place for local artists and rambunctious kids to express themselves through graffiti art. Bring a flashlight and grippy, waterproof shoes as the tunnel surface is uneven. Note: The Sheep tunnels feature amazing panels of graffiti art that change constantly, however many of the messages are graphic, may be offensive and/or adult in nature.
Enter at your own risk.