This will be a bit of a different trail overview because the nature of trails within the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve is a bit strange in that each trail is broken up into segments and each segment seems to get its own name. So some trails here may only be a few hundred yards long while others are much bigger. I am reporting on three today.
Trail Length: 0.86 miles one way.
Overview: the Chuckwalla Trail is a simple, family-friendly trail that is located off of Highway 18 outside St. George Utah. There are rock climbing areas here and it is frequented by mountain bikers. The Chuckwalla trail in this write up will be combined with the Beck Trail, Gila, and Turtle Wall. The Gila is not reported on due to it simply bing used as a connector trail for this hike. This trail was done in a counter-clockwise loop though it can be done in any way.
Park at the trailhead off highway 18 as it leaves St. George, Northbound. There is lots of parking here and there are bathrooms.
The Chuckwalla begins with a gradual downward descent towards miller springs 'creek.' The trail is wide and is a mix of sand, dirt and lots of rocks. Right at the beginning of the trail on the right side is a rock formation that has been set up for rock climbing. (see the guy in the above image, he is walking to the top of the cliffs to set up his rope system.
After the trail curves right (north) it flattens and follows the cliff faces for a bit. At this point, the Chuckwalla trail converges with Turtle Wall and the Chuckwalla trail changes names and turns into the Beck trail or Beck Hill Trail.
Overall the Chuckwalla trail is a simple trail that is kind of fun if you have kids, but mostly it's the entrance trail for the rest of the trail system. I would rate it as an average trail when it comes to views, better than a forest with no views, but not something I would go out of my way to experience. It makes for a great afternoon jaunt if you want to get your body moving or something you do for your morning routine. Don't travel across the country for this one hike, but if you are sitting in St. George and are bored and want to get out and do something free, this is a great option.
Trail Length 1.4 miles
The beck trail narrows up to a single-track trail as it converts from the Chuckwalla Trail. The views at this point do get better with a few large rock formations that are of interest. To the left side of the trail, there is a rock climbing designated area for those who like doing that.
The trail begins relatively flat but after the first half mile, the trail begins to turn west and climbs up a large rocky hill. The views at this point are some of the best, as you are hiking towards a large red rock mountain. The cliffs in the distance have the same striations as you see in Snow Canyon.
Towards the top of the hill is a sandy trail that heads north towards the sandstone mountain. It is not blocked off and is definitely used, but it is not a part of the official trail system. I wandered up a bit but not long enough for me to have any thoughts on the subject matter.
At the end of the 1.4 mile section of trail, that the Beck Trail intersects with the Gila Trail and you are rewarded with great views of St. George, Red Mountain, and the other cities to the north of St. George. It is quite a nice view and worth hanging out for sunset if you are wanting to do that. Make sure to bring a head lamp if you are a slow walker, you are about two miles in any direction to get back to the trail head.
Gila to Turtle Wall
The Gila trail is a much longer trail within the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve, but for this loop I am outlining, it only makes up 0.2 miles of your journey. When arriving at the Gila trail, head south towards the turtle wall and follow the well-worn sandstone trail along the cliffs.
Trail Length 0.97 miles
The Turtle Wall intersects with the Gila Trail. Follow the Turtle Wall Trail as it follows a cliff bench back towards the Chuckwalla Trail. The trail is fairly straightforward and easy to follow. There is a well-worn path in the dirt and sandstone that winds along the cliff face. the views here are not something particularly interesting, but the trail is pleasant enough to hike down.
Towards the end of the hike (or beginning if you do this loop in reverse) is a prominent arch on the north side of the trail. I don't think this arch has a name but I'll call it the turtle arch. You can wander around it if you are feeling a bit adventuresome. If you are a keen eye observer and have a bit of an imagination, the rock lumps next to the arch look like a turtle if you are standing far enough away from it. The caption image at the top of this post was taken from on top of the turtle's back.
Let me take this from two perspectives. First from a father of three little kids. I would do this trail system as followed; I would park at Chuckwalla, hike towards the Turtle Arch, visit that and either hike back to the car or continue hiking Turtle wall and go all the way to the big overlook by where Turtle Wall meets Gila. I would skip the Beck loop unless my kids were bigger (8 and above). Bring snacks and have a good time.
If I were to do this on a regular basis for exercise. I would do my described loop as it gives you about a 4 miles loop of hiking in a variety of terrain and slop. I would mix it up and follow some of the other trails. to give variety.
In general, I would make this an afternoon or early morning thing to kill some time if you were visiting southern Utah. If you are a local I would work this into a more regular part of my hiking routine