Located in the "Little Bryce Canyon", otherwise known as Red Canyon, the Cassidy Trail is an overwhelmingly beautiful hike. Slowly gaining then traversing along an exposed ridge, the route has nearly continuous views for its entire duration towards Mexican Hat Peak.
From the town of Bryce, head north towards the junction with Highway 12. Turn left and hop onto Highway 12, soon entering the Dixie National Forest. Shortly before the Red Canyon Visitor Centre, pull off for the Red Canyon Trailhead on your right. This turnoff is shortly after you pass through two famous arches. The turnoff is poorly signed, so watch out and be ready to hit the brakes!
|When to do|
Spring, early summer and fall, avoid summer heat and winter snow
Yes, ask at Red Canyon Visitors Centre
At trailhead, and two along trail
Out and back
The trail begins at the far end of the large parking lot, initially running beside a wash (dried out riverbed), which slowly gains elevation. After a 1.6km or so you will reach the turnoff for the Rich Trail. You will cross this trail several times, however at each intersection the way is well marked. Follow signs for the Cassidy Trail and continue straight.
The route will now switchback a few times. Looking back you will be able to see the impressive red rock formations over the main Red Canyon, interspersed with small ponderosa pines. After passing another intersection with the Rich Trail and continuing along a short climb veering left you will come to the stunning Brayton Point. From this view the valley drops out beneath you, and the incredible red limestone lining the cliff wraps around almost 360 degrees!
The path then continues to the right along the ridgeline. Since this trail is shared with mountain bikes, the path winds around trees, though all in all it’s quite nice. The views continue as you descend from this plateau and veer north. Coming up at the 8.0km mark, you’ll approach the Losee Canyon, where you’ll find a horse corral and a washroom. This canyon, though without a majestic view, is deeply entrenched in the stunning red rock and has a beautiful atmosphere.
The trail continues north past Losee Canyon, undulating up and down but never getting too steep. Soon you will enter the startlingly white ‘Little Desert’ section. Traversing this short phase of bright white rock with scattered short trees is sure to amaze you!
After this break from reality you will have another short climb to another ridge. After travelling this ridge for a ways you will reach the second washroom and viewpoint, signposted as a left turnoff from the main trail. After enjoying the scenery and the facilities return to the trail and head north.
Soon, Mexican Hat Peak will come into view. This startling rock formation juts out of the ridgeline like a shark fin or a pop can. The trail doesn’t go awfully close to the formation, however you are granted stunning views up to its craggy peak. Finally the trail will descend slightly to meet the wet and lush Castro Canyon. From here return the way you came.
If you wish to shorten this hike, only do the 4.0km out to Brayton Point. Here you will find the best views, and not too much elevation gain! This hike would be rated a 2/5. Another option is to go to Losee Canyon and back, which is 8.0km one way, a 3/5 hike.
The Red Canyon area gets way less traffic than Bryce Canyon. Come here to escape the crowds and seek solitude in nature.
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