ST. GEORGE — If you want a hike with sweeping 360-degree views of the St. George basin and beyond, choose this classic 3-mile jaunt in the heart of downtown St. George. The Owens Loop hike allows folks to experience the feeling of wilderness isolation without even leaving the boundaries of town. Plus, of all those conspicuous plateaus in our area, this hike puts you on top of the one with the most jaw dropping city views around. It’ll give you a completely new perspective of the lay of the land.
The trail begins at the starting point of main street in St. George, at Brooks Nature Park – which is at the top of Main Street above the last traffic circle above the post office. Stroll through the park, past the amphitheater in the back and to the left, and at the north end of the park, take the first steep section up the left side of the gully. This scramble lands you up and out of the park and into the desert proper. Hang a left, away from the Skyline Drive – Red Hills Parkway intersection and follow the trail, which parallels the south rim of the plateau. Catch sweeping views of Dixie rock across downtown St. George and over the the black hill.
Continue gaining elevation through a wonderland section of sandstone caverns that have hundreds of mini shelves and arches that wind has carved into them. The trail levels out after half a mile and although it ebbs and flows, the elevation stays pretty consistent for the rest of the hike. The first half mile has 400 feet of elevation and the last half mile has the exact same 400 feet of elevation loss. For the middle two miles of the hike, you’ll stay on top of the plateau gaining a seemingly endless set of impressive views, one after another.
Stick to the well marked trail markers, but when in doubt look for cairns – little stacks of rocks – to lead you on your way. At the 1.5-mile mark, the trail curves back southeast from whence you came. Catch grand views of Pine Valley Mountains in the background and stroll along until the trail reconnects you with your original tracks. Follow the trail right back down to the Brooks Nature Park and skip by the resident ducks who live there.
Note: This trail has various entrances and exits, but this route seems to have the most bang for your buck.
- Highlight: Jaw-dropping views of St. George
- Distance: 3 miles
- Difficulty: Generally easy well-worn desert trail with a few moderate steep sections and a few minor obstacles.
- Trailhead location: Brooks Nature Park, 452 North Main St., St. George
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CORRECTION made: Reference to Pine Mountain corrected to Pine Valley Mountains.
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