Scout Cave Trail

Scout Cave Trail



As soon as you enter the cave, it is immediately obvious why it has its name - the Native Americans in the area could easily scout out the entire valley from its vantage point. This sandstone feature is unusual for its relatively large size, and the trail is generally easy with just a few short portions that are steep enough to get the heart pumping.

Elevation Range:   180 ft
Low Elevation:   3060 ft
High Elevation:   3240 ft
Distance:   5.4 miles
Area:   Red Cliffs National Conservation Area
Cost:   Free
Rating:    (3.6)
Aerobic Intensity:    (2.5)
Technical Difficulty:    (1.8)
Scenery:    (3.0)
  1 ratings
Last Edited: Oct 05, 2016


While there are several ways to get to the Scout Cave trail, the most popular is via the Johnson Canyon trail.  This route winds through lava rocks, sandstone, down into a wash that may have some water during the right time of year, and finally up the side of one of Southern Utah's signature red cliffs.

From the parking lot, carefully cross the street and go through the gate.  Take a couple minutes to read the sign at the trailhead, and then start off on the trail.  The first half mile heads east, and is actually the johnson canyon trail.  This portion of the trail is wide, marked by a border of lava rock on either side of the 4-foot wide trail, and except for a few sections where you must pass over lava rock the trail is also generally smooth.

Scout trail starts heads off to the right (South) as soon as you come to a wash up against the red cliffs.  The take-off of the scout cave trail is well marked, with signs clearly indicating that the Johnson Canyon Trail is not to be travelled during certain months (approximately mid-March to mid-September)

Once you head South, the trail follows the rim of the wash for another 3/4 mile or so.  The vegetation and trail surface is largely the same as on the Johnson Canyon portion of the trail, although slightly less groomed.

After following along the wash, the trail drops down in over the edge and goes to the bottom.  The trail follows along the bottom for a time, going through trees and other plants that are evidently taking advantage of a little more water in the wash.  The trail shortly hooks left and follows up into a different contributing wash.  About this time, you start to see several houses on the rim above you, as you come up against the back side of the entrada housing development.  As you look up to the west, you can see Scout cave up in the clifs above you.

The trail follows up this second wash for several hundred yards, with several ledges that must be navigated over.  During a storm, these would make picturesque waterfalls 3-5 feet high.  A quick scramble is all that is required to go over these however - and after several of these you come to the base of a "staircase" built into a ridge going up and out of the wash.  The staircase is made out of railroad ties placed every few feet, and makes the climb out technically easy even if it doesn't take all of the slope out of the approach.

Once at the top of the steps, you are very close to the cave itself, and a quick scramble up a few rocks is all that remains between you and the cave.  As you enter, give a few yells to hear the echo (yes, it is big enough), and enjoy the view below you.

When you leave, you can backtrack and return to the same spot, or if you like you can go down on the Kestrel trail to connect to the city trail on Snow Canyon Parkway and follow it up through Snow Canyon Drive back to the trailhead.  With some planning ahead of time and several more hours to hike, you can even choose between a few connector trails (Beck Hill, Turtle Wall, or Paradise Rim) to make it over to the Chuckwalla trail.


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 Getting There

  • From I-15, take exit 6
  • Go North on Bluff St for 3.7 miles
  • Turn left onto Snow Canyon Pkwy, go West for 4.0 miles
  • At the second traffic circle, (shortly after entering Ivins), take the first right for Snow Canyon Dr.
  • Head North for 0.8 miles, right before the entrance to Snow Canyon State Park.
  • Parking lot will be on your left, and trail on your right.