Virgin River Rim Trail, Cascade Falls-Lars Fork

Page Type
Trip Report
Location:
Utah, United States, North America
Date Climbed/Hiked:
Sep 2, 2013
Activities:
Hiking
Season:
Summer
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Virgin River Rim Trail, Cascade Falls-Lars Fork
Created On: Oct 12, 2013
Last Edited On: Oct 12, 2013

Overview

“Virgin River Rim Trail” may bring to mind images of a trail following the length of Virgin River on the rim of its canyon but that is not what this trail does. Virgin River Rim is a 32 mile long trail that follows the edge of Utah’s Markagunt Plateau to the east of Cedar City. The plateau is around 9000 ft high and is covered by a forest of Pine and Aspen trees. In its southwestern parts, the plateau creates a distinct rim where slopes drop thousands of feet down into the canyons below. Many of these canyons join to give rise to Virgin River, hence the trail’s name. Some of the slopes are made of colorful hoodoos similar to those found in the nearby Bryce Canyon National Park & Cedar Breaks National Monument.

Virgin River Rim Trail can be accessed via many spots along its 32 mile length. I had read that the western parts of the trail went in a forest where there were no hoodoos. A look at the map and aerial photos revealed that a hike from Cascade Falls Trailhead to beyond Lars Fork Road and back would create a day hike with many opportunities to see the colorful slopes/hoodoos.

Cascade Falls
Is a small waterfall 0.55 miles to the north of Cascade Falls Trailhead. Water from the nearby Navajo Lake is said to go through a sinkhole and then exit at a spot among the pink cliffs. I had thought of visiting the falls as a small side trip at the end of the day.

Virgin River Rim Trail is supposedly a popular place to do mountain biking, although I only saw one biker.


MapMap of my hike

Getting There

Left our vacation rental home in Cedar City, UT at 6:20 a.m. Sunrise was at 7 so it was still mostly dark. Got on I-15 south at Exit 62. I had thought that at Exit 59, I would see a sign for Route 14 and Cedar Breaks National Monument but I did not. I thought it must be the next exit. At Exit 57, I still saw no signs. I knew this was the end of Cedar City so I exited onto Route 130, pulled onto the side of the street and began looking at my map. Only then did I realize that Route 14 did not have a direct exit off of I-15. Continued 2 miles north on Route 130 to downtown and turned right onto Route 14.

The road headed east going into a tight forested valley among the mountains going up the slopes quickly. In about 15 miles or so, the road went from 5900 ft in Cedar City to 9900 ft. At the top, there was no “going down the other side”. A beautiful high plateau appeared. After 25 miles on Route 14, I turned south onto a dirt road to Navajo Lake. I do not remember the names of the roads. I had looked at aerial photos and found the route I needed to take. Took a left turn at the first intersection, left at the second and right at the third onto Duck Valley Road. These were all well-graded dirt roads passable by sedan. Went to the end of the road at Cascade Falls Trailhead.

Cascade Falls Trailhead to the Plateau to the Southeast of Lars Fork Road

Place
Elevation
Distance
Cascade Falls Trailhead
8950 ft
zero miles
High Point
9320 ft
-
Willis Creek Road
9100 ft
3.30 miles
High Point
9160 ft
-
Lars Fork Road
8820 ft
0.40 miles
End of my hike
9080 ft
0.90 miles
Total Roundtrip
-
9.20 miles






Trailhead was on the edge of the plateau at an elevation of 8950 ft. To the southwest, I could see forested slopes dropping down thousands of feet into hilly canyons below. The sun had not risen over the lower slopes yet. Two people, who looked like they were preparing for a backpacking trip were at trailhead but I did not see them after that. In fact, I did not see any hikers today (except for the end of the day when I went to Cascade Falls). This trailhead is at a spot along the length of the 32 mile long Virgin River Rim Trail. I could go southeast or northwest. My plan was to go southeast. The car’s thermometer showed 50 degrees F.

Left at 7:30 a.m. and went on the well-established trail heading southeast. I was in the shade. Everything was wet from yesterday’s rain. The trail went into a pine forest and began going up a hill.

Near Cascade Falls Trailhead



At an elevation of 9240 ft, I reached a plateau. The sun was shining directly into my eyes.

The plateau near Cascade Falls TH


The trail continued southeast 20-30 ft away from the edge of the plateau. If I had been suddenly dropped off here, I would not have known that I was on the edge of a plateau with very dramatic views 20 feet away. I went to the very edge a few times. Sometimes colorful slopes could be seen below and sometimes only forested ones.

From the plateau near Cascade Falls TH


From the plateau near Cascade Falls TH


From the plateau near Cascade Falls TH


From the plateau near Cascade Falls TH


The trail then went into an Aspen forest and began to go down slowly. My maps showed 4 wheel drive roads coming close to this trail. At one spot I noted a road behind the trees.

Descending into Willis Creek Road


Descending into Millis Spring Valley


The trail made a broad switchback and went down a hill. When it came back near the edge again, I had good views of pink cliffs to the northwest.

Near Millis Spring Road


At 9:05 a.m., I reached a road again. I did not know it at the time but this was Willis Creek Road. For the next 15 minutes or so the trail went parallel to the road (or went on the road) at the edge of the plateau going further down to reach Lars Fork Road (8820 ft).

Near Millis Spring Road


Near Lars Fork Road


Near Lars Fork Road


Near Lars Fork Road


The road finally went away. I continued the trail on the surface of a small plateau until I reached an edge with a bunch of hoodoos below. Sat there for a short time.

Southeast of Lars Fork Road


Southeast of Lars Fork Road


Southeast of Lars Fork Road


Southeast of Lars Fork Road


I could see a hill in front of me. I thought I could go to the top of that hill and end the hike there. At 9:45 a.m., 9080 ft and 4.6 miles, I reached the top of the plateau. Found a pretty spot on the edge and sat down to rest and enjoy the views.

End of my hike


End of my hike


End of my hike


Left at 10:00 a.m. retracing the route I had come. I was soon back at the hoodoos again.

Southeast of Lars Fork Road


Southeast of Lars Fork Road


Now that the sun was up, the forest looked prettier. At Lars Fork Road, I saw 2 people who had driven there on an ATV. Later heard two loud annoying ATVs on a nearby road but never saw them.

Forest


Forest


Forest


Forest


Forest


On the plateau near the trailhead, now that the sun was up, the colorful slopes below were ready for picture taking. I saw one mountain biker there.

From the plateau near Cascade Falls TH


From the plateau near Cascade Falls TH


From the plateau near Cascade Falls TH



Went down the forested hill and reached the cascade Falls trailhead at 11:55 a.m. There were now many cars, ATVs and people there.

Forest

Cascade Falls Trail

After resting in my car for 20 minutes or so, I went on to Cascade Falls Trail. Ran into many people here. The trail headed northwest to a high point where I had a good view of the pink cliffs ahead.

On Cascade Falls Trail


It then went down under the pink cliffs.

Cascade Falls Trail


At 0.55 miles, I reached Cascade falls. A small amount of water came out of an opening in the pink cliffs.

Cascade Falls


Looking back at the trail.

Cascade Falls Trail

External Links

Virgin River Rim Trail Mountain Biking
http://www.utahmountainbiking.com/trails/virg-rim.htm.


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Comments

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Viewing: 1-4 of 4

samira - Oct 13, 2013 3:29 pm - Hasn't voted

Hi(salam)

I am very happy,because I have a kind freind that he sends these pics for me.Thanks.

nader

nader - Oct 13, 2013 7:05 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Hi(salam)

Thank you for looking,

I am glad you like them.

Bloody Tongue - Oct 15, 2013 1:40 pm - Hasn't voted

Beautiful!

Made my morning and brought back fond memories of the region. Thanks!

nader

nader - Oct 16, 2013 8:42 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Beautiful!

Thank you for looking and commenting.

Viewing: 1-4 of 4


Virgin River Rim Trail, Cascade Falls-Lars Fork

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