Ashdown Gorge, Rattlesnake Creek and Lake Falls, a Great Hike Near Cedar City UT

Ashdown Gorge is a 9 mile out and back trail in the Dixie National Forest near Cedar City Utah.

Feature Image Details


Ashdown Gorge trail map courtesy of AllTrails. Annotations by Mish.

There are two trail heads. The normal bottoms up route is just a few miles outside of Cedar City on Utah 14.

Alternatively, one can start at the north entrance of Cedar Breaks National Monument. Part right at the entrance sign. The top down route is longer, about 12 miles counting the trips to the waterfalls, and requires a car shuttle.

There are no facilities at either trailhead.

Tom’s Head

Tom’s Head is your main landmark. Depending on your starting point, be sure to turn the correct direction.

If hiking bottom up, turn left at the junction of Tom’s Head, heading up Rattlesnake Creek. If hiking top down, turn right at the junction.

The Rattlesnake Creek side trail leads to a pair of spectacular waterfalls.

We aborted this hike twice this year due to high water levels. There is no trail other than Ashdown Creek, Rattlesnake Creek, and Lake Creek.

You will cross the Ashdown Creek numerous times, too many to count.

The hike is a combination of features similar to the Narrows or Subway Trails at Zion, but not as strenuous as either of them.

I rate the trail as moderate, some may rate it strenuous. A walking stick helps. Expect a lot of boulder hopping.

Here are two more images of Rattlesnake Creek Falls.

You need to get a little wet, for the next shot, somewhere between your knees and hip depending on your height.

After visiting Rattlesnake Creek Falls, backtrack to the junction of Rattlesnake Creek and Lake Creek, then turn right.

The Lake Creek wash takes you to Lake Falls.

Lake Falls

I’ve done this trek twice. There was barely any flow at Lake Falls the first time but Rattlesnake Creek Falls is more dependable. There was good flow on both occasions.

You can walk behind the falls but expect to get wet if you do. Water dripping off the rocks is sure to get you.

Other Opportunities

The waterfalls are the highlight of the trip, but take in the beautiful scenery along the way.

At the start of the hike (end if going top down) there an interesting truck crash to investigate.

Truck Crash

Petrified Ripples

Shortly after the truck wreckage is a beautiful display of petrified ripples.

Morning Reflection

Morning light is beautiful in Ashdown Gorge. The reflections are best before the sun hits Ashdown Creek.

The next image is one of few I took on the way out.

Photographer’s Perspective

This hike is best started at dawn because the morning light makes for better images.

Direct sun is seldom good.

Even for the non-photographer, I recommend starting in the morning because the afternoon sun can be brutal. I did not need a hat on the way in, but was happy to have one on the way out.

To get smooth water, you will need a tripod and slow shutter speeds. A wide angle lens is required and for Rattlesnake Creek Falls a very wide angle lens, 16 millimeters or wider is necessary.

A polarizer reduces glare and lengthens exposures, a double benefit.

Don’t let the photographer’s perspective burden you. You can get very good images from your phone. And for many, the hike is the thing.

Pack a lunch, head out early, and have a great time.

Happy Hiking!


Those interested in my equipment and recommendations can find it here: Mish’s Equipment List.

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Mike “Mish” Shedlock

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