“A steep trail cut into a cliffside leading from the deserts into the lush Pine Valley mountains
— Tomsen Reed
Views · Wildflowers
For the first two miles (which are the steepest and most difficult) there is hardly any shade, and no water so be sure to bring plenty for yourself, and consider starting earlier in the morning when it is cooler and there is less sun exposure.
This is a steep trail that quickly changes between two main ecosystems - a dusty reddish desert where the trail crosses ephemeral stream drainages and passes desert foliage, and then the trail slowly crosses over into a lush pine forest with wildflowers and occasional leftover snowbanks in the summer. The switchbacks that cut into this steep mountainside were constructed a long time ago, but have been very well kept up and the trail is easy to follow.
Initially the trail starts ascending slowly, as it leaves the Oak Grove campground and starts up a small drainage. The trail then breaks away from this drainage and heads for a steep ridge that leads up into the heart of the Pine Valley mountains. At this point, the switchbacks begin, but so do the great views. Looking back to the east one can start to see the Colorado Plateau and red rock formations in the distance.
These views just keep getting better as the trail ascends and allows for more uninterrupted views of the area, and eventually one can even see down into St. George and parts of the red rocks of Snow Canyon State Park. There are also some impressive granite cliffs just above and along the trail itself, within the Pine Valley Mountains, and the trail passes by some huge granite boulders as well that have fallen from the cliffs.
Eventually the trail reaches its apex and drops down into a lush evergreen forest with plenty of shade and ends up meeting up with the Summit Trail
that can go either toward Signal Peak or toward other sections of the Pine Valley Mountains.
Flora & Fauna
Sego lilies, and plenty of other beautiful wildflowers line this trail.