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Featured National Recreation Trails

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Every kind of trail activity is represented in the listing of designated NRTs. Besides hiking and bicycling, the system includes water trails, motorized routes, snow tracks, greenways, and equestrian paths. The NRT program showcases the diversity of trails across America, from our cities and suburbs to the deserts, waterways, and high mountains.


Red Canyon National Recreation Trail - Dixie National Forest, Utah


The Red Canyon Bicycle Trail (Forest Service Trail 33016) is an 8.6 mile non-motorized trail that parallels the route of Utah Scenic Byway 12 through Red Canyon on the Dixie National Forest.


photo of bicycles on paved trail

Cyclists on the Red Canyon Trail

Red Canyon is often referred to as “Little Bryce”, with brilliantly colored red rocks called hoodoo’s and large Ponderosa pines, bristle cone pines, and limber pines throughout. This area is known as a place to get away from the crowds in Bryce Canyon National Park and provides multiple trail and recreation opportunities with spectacular scenery.

The Powell Ranger District, Dixie National Forest, constructed 5.5 miles of the Red Canyon Bicycle Trail in 2000 and added an additional 3.1 miles in 2009. Partners associated with these phases included the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT), Scenic Byway 12 Committee, Garfield County, and Utah State Parks and Recreation.

At the eastern terminus the trail links to the East Fork Road, No. 087, and provides convenient access to the Great Western Trail, campgrounds, cabin rentals, and a local reservoir. Also, the trail directly accesses approximately 60 miles of non-motorized trails in Red Canyon, offering numerous loop opportunities including the Thunder Mountain Trail, known for outstanding mountain biking. Currently, there is momentum from the partners to continue this trail into Bryce Canyon National Park and possibly beyond.

The Red Canyon Bicycle Trail starts at the bottom of Red Canyon on the Dixie National Forest at the Thunder Mountain Trailhead and progresses east for 5.5 miles to the top of Red Canyon on the Paunsaugunt Plateau. From there the trail travels east another 3.1 miles to the terminus at the East Fork Road. Access to the trail is from Scenic Byway 12 traveling through the same corridor.

photo of distant trail and red hills

The trail is on the right with Utah Scenic Byway 12 on the left


Facilities located along the Red Canyon corridor include:

1. Red Canyon VC (parking for 25 vehicles and 6 pull-through).

2. Red Canyon CG (37 campsites and a 150 PAOT day use site).

3. Thunder Mt. TH located at bottom of Red Canyon (restroom, kiosks and parking for 15 vehicles and 2 pull-through).

4. Johnson parking area/TH located at the top of Red Canyon (kiosks, parking for 12 cars and 4 pull-through and restroom).

5. Tunnel TH (parking for 7 cars).

6. Red Canyon TH is located across SB12 (kiosks, restroom, parking for 10 cars and 2 pull-through).

7. Coyote Hollow CG (4 sites) and Coyote Hollow Trailhead (kiosk, restroom and parking for 8 cars and 3 pull-through) is located about 1 mile from bike path (this route makes up portions of the Thunder Mtn. Trail loop).

photo of trail through pine trees

The paved trail surface provides for year-round biking
and hiking

Historic uses of the land are obvious throughout the length of the trail including road access to other parts of the forest, grazing, telephone lines, developed campgrounds, and the Red Canyon Visitor Center. The predominant vegetation in this area is mixed conifer in Red Canyon and pinyon-juniper with sage-steppe communities on the Paunsaugunt Plateau.

The Red Canyon Bicycle Trail is a very popular trail with local residents and has gained regional attention from bicyclists and bicycle groups. Several organized events occur annually that utilize the trail, serving to acquaint new users to opportunities offered by the trail while providing safe passage away from traffic on Utah Highway 12.

The Red Canyon Bicycle Trail is is managed by the Forest Service to provide a non-motorized trail experience for bicyclists and pedestrians. Public support for this trail has been outstanding with as many as 80 local high school students turning out to pick up litter and clear vegetation along the trail in 2011. Also, the Forest has many local area partners that continue to support the upkeep and maintenance, including Garfield County providing equipment and personnel to sweep the trail as needed.

It is hoped that designation as a National Recreation Trail will increase the tourism assets in Garfield County, which is known for a largely recreation based economy and would welcome more visitors to the area.

For more information:

Powell Ranger District, Dixie National Forest
225 E. Center St., P.O. Box 80 Panguitch, Utah 84759-0080
(435) 676-9300
Red Canyon Visitor Center website:


trail noteWe frequently add NRT information, photos and maps to these pages. Send suggestions and information requests to American Trails. Research additional NRTs in the NRT database. Trail managers can update online trail information in the NRT database. You may also e-mail information on minor changes or to update Featured NRT pages.



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