2015  HIKING, CYCLING,

& RV TRAVEL ADVENTURES

Denali

 

   
 
Runtrails' Web Journal
 
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   RED CANYON TRAILS: CASSIDY, 
LEDGE POINT, & RICH

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 26

 
"This trail [Cassidy] winds through spectacular red rock scenery and majestic    
ponderosa pines as it heads north to Brayton Point, a great overlook . . .
For a magnificent view, walk the half-mile Ledge Point Trail."
 
~ Red Canyon trail map, US Forest Service
 
 

On our first full day in Red Canyon in September, a Friday, I wanted to hike the popular Thunder Mountain Trail because of what I'd read about it prior to our visit.

However, when I went to the Red Canyon Visitor Center to get a trail map, the Forest Service ranger who answered my questions recommended I wait a few days to hike the Thunder Mountain Trail. It had been raining and the bikes and horses had torn up the trail so it was less hiker-friendly.

For as long of a hike as I wanted to do, he suggested the Cassidy, Ledge Point, and Rich Trails that day instead. As you can see from the map, there are many possible variations so folks can hike any distance they want and go either CW or CCW or make figure-8s on the loops:


I marked the trails I hiked the first time; I did a little less the second hike.

I'm glad I listened to his advice because even though those trails are also open to cyclists and equestrians, they were in good condition -- no bike tire ruts, no horse hoof divots, no hiking boot impressions. 

These trails are obviously used less than Thunder Mountain.

For a hiker like me who prefers solitude to lots of other trail users, these three trails are a good choice. I saw only six people (no horses, no dogs) on my first hike of about five hours on the trail -- on a perfectly beautiful Friday -- and no one on the second hike of two-plus hours.


View NE into Losee Canyon from Brayton Point on the Cassidy Trail

Jim was doing a 33-mile bike ride that first day so I hiked solo for 10 miles. I did all the Cassidy, Rich, and Ledge Point loops, then went out farther north on the Cassidy Trail (top of map and GPS track) before turning around. I didn't go as far as the intersection with the Losee Trail that day.

My GPS recorded elevations of 7,277 feet at the trailhead to 7,900 feet at the highest point, with a total of 2,547 feet of elevation gain and loss:


1= out and back section to first trail intersection; 2 = Ledge Point
on first loop; 3 = Brayton Point on third loop; 4 = turnaround

A few days before we left Red Canyon Jim and Casey joined me on a pretty Monday morning for a 6.3-mile hike on these three trails. Our high point was almost the same but the total gain and loss was less (1,680 feet) because the distance was 4+ miles shorter.

The photos in this entry are from both hikes. I'll present most of them in the order in which I hiked from the trailhead a little past (east of) the Red Canyon Campground.

There is a large parking area at the trailhead and two different trails that converge above the wash in about 100 feet. I prefer using the horse trail through the wash because it's less hilly:


Jim and Casey walk through the horse staging area at the trailhead

The configuration of these trails is confusing to me so I took the Forest Service trail map with me both times. The signage is good at each intersection but the Cassidy and Rich trails intertwine so much that it's hard to tell, even looking at a map, which one is on the west side of each loop and which is on the east side.

I found it easiest to go left at almost every intersection and do the other side of each loop on the way back.

I'm glad I did it that way because the west (left) sides of the loops are more interesting than the trail sections on the east. They are higher in elevation, with more distant views. Some of the trail sections on the east side are farther down in the canyon, mostly along and through a wash where you can't see as much.

 

 

You can do all kinds of variations of these loops or just go out whatever distance and back.

The most interesting short option would be to turn left off the Cassidy Trail onto the Rich Trail at the first intersection, go up the side canyon to the Ledge Point Trail, turn left again and follow it clockwise as close to the edges of the cliff as you're comfortable for great views down into the canyons, Hwy. 12 corridor, and the Sevier River Valley, then turn right to loop back on the Rich Trail to the Cassidy Trail (another right turn) and return to your vehicle.

That's a little less than four miles and is a good sample of what you'll see on the rest of these trails.


I turned left here, after about 8/10ths mile on the Cassidy Trail, and went up
the Rich Trail to the first intersection with the Ledge Trail loop.

The next set of photos shows scenes from the ascent on the Rich Trail to the Ledge Point Trail:

 

 


Jim and Casey climb up the Rich Trail.

 

 

The Cassidy and Rich Trails are moderately difficult because of the constant ups and downs, some roots and rocks, and loose rocks that make traction on the steeper descents rather precarious.

There are also some very smooth sections, some flat spots, and several places where the trail crosses dry washes on gravel. Those sections would be great for running or cycling but they aren't the majority of the trail surface.

SCENES FROM THE LEDGE POINT TRAIL

Following this route, at 1.4 miles I turned left onto the Ledge Point Trail and ascended just a bit higher to a plateau with great views to the east, south, and west.

The Ledge Point Trail is the flattest of the three trails I'm describing in this entry and has the smoothest paths. It's an arc that is about half a mile long. I stayed as close to the edge of the ledges around its three sides so I could get the best views down into the canyons and river valley:

 


View NE

Above and below:  views east

 


Trail to the point of the ledge


View east from point of ledge


View south from point toward the Red Canyon Campground

Above and below:  views west toward Sevier River Valley

After going out to Ledge Point the trail loops back to the Rich Trail. At this point I'd gone 2.4 miles.

To shorten the hike, you can go right and drop back down to the Cassidy Trail and return to the trailhead for a total distance of just under four miles.

Both times I hiked these trails I went more straight on the Rich Trail and stayed left on the next two  loops. At the next intersection I turned left on the Cassidy Trail (I mentioned earlier that these two trails crisscross several times). The trail went up and down through small side canyons for a mile to Brayton Point but stayed fairly high through desert-like areas. The mesa in the second loop with Brayton Point has more tall trees to provide some shade.

Here are some photos from the Ledge Point-Rich Trail intersection to Brayton Point:

 

 


As in other areas of Red Canyon, the rock formations and fragments
come in about every color except blue.

Continued on the next page:  photos from scenic Brayton Point to the end of the hike

Happy trails,

Sue
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup

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2015 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil

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