Dixie National Forest is the largest forest in Utah, stretching 170 miles and enclosing more than two million acres. The forest has several distinct botanical divisions. At high elevations, large pine and aspen grow in the cool mountain air. Lower down, juniper and pinion pines begin to merge with the desert landscape. In the southern, and least elevated parts of Dixie, incredible sandstone formations are dotted with scrub and brush.
The recreational opportunities change with the land as well. For the day hiker and backpacker, Dixie National Forest offers a wealth of trails. Here is a list of our top five favorites, in all parts of the Escalante District of Dixie.
1. Coleman Trail – this hike is squarely in the semi-arid section of Dixie National Forest. It provides access to Sand Hollow and the Box-Death Wilderness area. Coleman Trail opens up miles of empty beauty.
2. Great Western Trail – almost any section of the Great Western Trail is superb. There are hundreds of trail heads in the state, so finding a starting point is easy. Since the Great Western covers so much ground, you can enjoy samples of all parts of Dixie National Forest.
3. Halls Creek Trail – a rarely visited path through the mixed scenery of pine, aspen, and open meadows. It connects with other trails to create a pleasant loop. This hike captures the ideal mountain essence, so sought after by outdoorsmen.
4. Dougherty Basin Trail – a perfect, easy hike for beginners or those with children. The meandering trail takes you into the heart of Dougherty Basin. Surrounding lakes and towering pines provide a beautiful setting for a picnic or backcountry camping trip.
5. Under the Point Trail – this hike takes you through some classic examples of great Southwestern scenery. Sandstone cliffs support the endless blue sky, and you forget that anyone else exists. Arches, pinnacles, and fantastic views make this hike an all-season favorite.
Remember to bring lots of water on any hike. Follow basic safety procedures and expect to have a great time. Maps and directions to all of these trails, and many more, can be found at the US Forest Service site for Dixie National Forest. Happy trails!