15 Jul 2020
Where to Go & What to Do in Dixie National Forest
July 13th – July 19th is National Forest Week and all the excuse we need to celebrate our favorite backyard getaway, Dixie National Forest!
With nearly 2 million acres throughout southern Utah, Dixie National Forest is home to many of the scenic wonders that locals and visitors alike have come to love. Alongside the scenery, the outdoor recreation opportunities throughout the forest are nearly limitless. From OHV trails, hiking, mountain biking, fishing and water sports, camping, and even birdwatching, there’s more than enough to do while visiting.
*Cover Image in Brian Head, UT by Mike Saemisch
OHV Trails in Dixie National Forest
Dixie National Forest — Markagunt OHV System
The Markagunt OHV System is located on the Markagunt Plateau of the Dixie National Forest in southwestern Utah. The system is made up of roads and trails that travel through mixed conifer forests and wide-open meadows. The landscape of the plateau is influenced by ancient volcanic activity with volcanic peaks and rough lava fields. Surrounded by several National Parks and Monuments, the roads and trails in the system offer outstanding views of the contrasting forested plateaus and the lower red rock canyons.
Hiking in Dixie National Forest
Aspen Mirror Trail 8,400 ft.
EASY | 1 MILE | SUMMER-FALL | OUT & BACK
This short but scenic trail brings you to Aspen Mirror Lake. Surrounded by Aspens, it is a spectacular fall destination. Trailhead is located at the end of Forest Service Road 057, about 29 miles east of Cedar City on Highway 14.
Bristlecone Pine Trail 9,200 ft.
EASY | 1 MILE | SPRING-FALL | OUT & BACK
An easy half mile trail that’s great for families. Enjoy views of Zion National Park from an observation deck as you mingle among a grove of Bristlecone Pines. Trailhead is located along Highway 14, near mile marker 17.
Cascade Falls Trail 9,500 ft.
EASY/MODERATE | 1 MILE | SUMMER-FALL | OUT & BACK
Spectacular views of Zion National Park and the Markagunt Plateau, ending at cascading falls from an underground lava tube. From the Duck Creek Visitor Center follow the signs (staying left) approx 3 miles to the trailhead.
*NOTE: The lava tube is closed to travel due to the low levels of oxygen and high water flows.
Lost Hunter Trail 9,000 ft.
EASY | 3.5 MILES | SUMMER-FALL | LOOP
A loop hike with little elevation gain, Lost Hunter travels through thick pine forests and grasses. Trailhead is located along Forest Road 056, inside Duck Creek Campground.
Virgin River Rim Trail 9,500 ft.
MODERATE | UP TO 32 MILES | SUMMER-FALL | POINT TO POINT
Access from different locations along the trail to customize the distance. Views of the Virgin River Rim and northern terrace of Zion National Park. Hiking, mountain biking and horses. Trailheads at Wood’s Ranch, Deer Haven, Te Ah Campground, Cascade Falls and Strawberry Point.
Navajo Lake Loop 9,400 ft.
MODERATE | 10 MILES | SUMMER-FALL | LOOP
A moderate 10 mile loop around the beautiful Navajo Lake near Duck Creek Village. The trail is primarily used for hiking, camping and mountain biking. Dogs are also allowed to use this trail. Heading east on Highway 14, turn right onto Navajo Lake Rd., trail head starts off Navajo Lake Rd, on the right hand side.
For more information and additional trails in the Dixie National Forest visit www.fs.fed.us/r4/dixie.
Recreation at Navajo Lake
The Navajo Lake recreation area is located atop Cedar Mountain, approximately 25 miles east of Cedar City. This pristine lake was originally known to the Paiute Indians as “Pa-Cu-Ay,” meaning “Cloud Lake.” Early pioneer settlers gave it its present name after a confrontation took place near the lake between the settlers and some traveling members of the Navajo tribe.
Navajo Lake was formed when an ancient lava flow dammed the eastern side of the lake valley. Resting on a layer of limestone, the lake soon developed underground drainage through sinkholes. Some of the water drains towards the Pacific Ocean via Cascade Falls and the Virgin River (the river that formed Zion Canyon). The balance runs east beneath the lava rocks coming out at the Duck Creek spring and sinking again to feed numerous springs that form the Sevier River (one of the few rivers in North American that flows north). The man-made dike that stretches across the lake helps to maintain a constant water level. Boating, swimming, and fishing are the most popular activities at Navajo Lake in the summer, and snowmobiling, ice fishing, and snowshoeing are fun in the winter.
Mountain Biking in Dixie National Forest
There are thousands of miles of trails and roads in the Dixie National Forest. Many of these trails are accessible by mountain bike. Also, the roads that wind through the forest are ideal for cycling. For a list of trails, visit www.fs.fed.us/r4/dixie.
Winter Recreation in Dixie National Forest
During the summer months, Dixie National Forest is the ideal getaway. With the high elevations, you’re away from the desert heat, but the forest is beautiful in the winter!
Opportunities for winter sports such as cross-country skiing and snowmobiling are available in many areas. The Forest Service works with Utah State Parks and Recreation to maintain trails for skiing and snowmobiling near Cedar Breaks and Bryce Canyon. There are also over a thousand miles of timber roads that can be used for these sports. There’s also Brian Head Resort which offers downhill skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing.