The Virgin River Rim Trail, Cascade Falls, and Strawberry Point
Though my hikes and visits to these three places were separate excursions, they are all within the same area and share similar features. In fact, if I had actually done any planning and showed up at the trailhead earlier, I could have hiked the entire 11 mile (one way) segment of the Virgin River Rim Trail to Strawberry Point, but my spontaneous decision to hike trail that morning after walking around elsewhere in the national forest meant that I was only able to complete an estimated 11 – 12 miles roundtrip. I’ve already hiked two other places along the 32 mile trail however and I intend to complete it at some point anyway though so it’s no great loss.
This segment of the Virgin River Rim Trail and the surrounding areas provide absolutely fantastic views from the rim of the Markangunt Plateau down the “staircase” – the descending plateaus – to Zion National Park. It also allows you to get up close to the eroded pink, red, and white rock of the Claron Formation, which extends to Cedar Breaks and through the Red Canyon to Bryce National Park. Multiple stretches of trail take you within feet of the eroding hoodoos and striped spires and provide clear sight lines to the thick spruce and fir forest below.
The Cascade Falls Trail begins at the same place where I had picked up the Virgin River Rim Trail, but the trailhead is located at the opposite side of the parking area and descends below the rim of the plateau rather than follow it along the top. It’s a very short hike, less than 2 miles roundtrip, and has been recently made very accessible with the addition of stairs and dikes that control the erosion that used to regularly wipe out the trail and make it impassable. Like the section of Virgin River Rim Trail above, the hike provides spectacular views off the Markangunt Plateau and wonderful opportunities to see the Claron Formation. Though the falls themselves were barely a trickle due to the low water levels of Navajo Lake (which it drains), the brief walk down the face of the plateau was incredibly impressive.
Strawberry Point as I said it the other trailhead for the section of the Virgin River Rim Trail I had hiked, but it’s also the terminus for the whole 32 miles and is a well known spot to visit in it’s own right. Because the point extends beyond the profile of most of the rim, its possible to see 20 or 30 miles of the edge of the plateau when looking to the right. Of course you also get the incredible views down the staircase and more exposed pink and orange rock. The day of my visit I picked up the trail here intending to walk back towards the Cascade Falls trailhead, but this section cuts back through forest rather than following the rim and unfortunately, this section was being logged. After about a mile of weaving through depressing mounds of dead trees I decided to walk elsewhere though I hope to return when there’s regrowth.