The Shinob Kibe Trail is one less traveled, but brings a great reward! Although the trail starts in the heart of the bustling community below, it has a very secluded nature, and once you reach the top of the plateau, it feels like you have left everything behind. Shinob Kibe (pronounced shin-o-bee kai-bee) is named after a Paiute deity who was considered to be a local protector for the tribe. The mesa was a sacred place for the local Paiute’s and its name means Great Spirit (Shinob) Mountain (Kibe). It was a place of refuge from attacks from the neighboring Navajo tribe that would capture women and children and use them as slaves. Hikers can still find an ancient medicine wheel near the summit. (As with all ancient sites and artifacts, please leave this site undisturbed. Observe it from a distance and appreciate the ability to enjoy the natural history.)
This mesa is special for another, more modern, reason. Before airplanes were equipped with the sophisticated instruments they have now, pilots would use landmarks to help navigate. This peak houses one of the three old cement aviation navigation arrows that can be found in the St George area. These arrows were used to guide pilots on the mail routes from Los Angeles to Salt Lake City. Others like it can be found throughout the country. These are a fun piece of forgotten and little known history!
This trail takes you up a fairly quick elevation gain, which can be difficult for some hikers. Just take it slow and mind the little ones as you get closer to the top, as the trail narrows and there are some steep drop offs. When you get to the top, make sure to sign the guest sign in by the navigation arrow!
The Enepitsi Trail in the Santa Clara River Reserve is a nice, family friendly stroll that takes you right down into the Santa Clara River bottoms. You will start at the Tukupetsi trail head, which is a dirt single track, and then you will fork to the left and follow an old dirt road down into the river bottoms. Because of the proximity to water, the plants are all big and lush, and is a beautiful walk! As you walk along and admire the foliage, don’t forget to keep your eyes open for the petroglyphs that spot the sides of the cliff face. They are everywhere along the trail, but are easy to miss if you don’t climb up next to the rocks. You will also see some up high along the top of the cliff if you keep your eyes peeled. Go enjoy some of Southern Utah’s natural history, and always remember to treat them with respect so future visitors will have the same opportunity to enjoy them! Review this before you go!
Church Rocks is the mini Moab of St George. With tons of slickrock, drops, and fast descents, this is one of my favorite trails close to town! This is an intermediate trail with some reasonably techy decents. One of my favorite things about Church Rocks is that a few of the entrances and exits go under the freeway in drainage tubes that are big enough to ride in.
Babylon Arch trail is a very sandy, but very gratifying trail. It doesn’t take long on the trail to feel like you have landed on Mars with all the cool sandstone formations around you, and the arch is very unique compared to any I have seen before. This hike is NOT stroller friendly, but young kids can make the trek with help. The trail forks and will take you to the arch or to the Virgin River. It doesn’t take much longer to do both and the river is refreshing and fun to look at! This one is definitely worth the trip!
Map to Trailhead. From St George, head north on I-15 for about 13 miles and take exit 22 to Leeds/Silver Reef. Head north on Hwy 228/Main Street for 2 miles and take a right onto 900 North (there is a sign indicating Red Cliffs National Conservation Area). Follow 900 North for about 3 miles and turn left after the sign indicating Sand Cove Trailhead.
You can take the trail from two start points – Sand Cove Trailhead, or the Primitive Camping Area Trailhead. 4WD and high clearance are REQUIRED to get to the Primitive Camping Area. Even the road to the Sand Cove Trailhead is pretty sandy and 4WD or at least AWD is recommended. If you continue to the Primitive Camp Area, then go on passed the Sand Cove Trailhead for a few hundred feet and take a right. Follow this road until you can’t go anymore and you’ll be at the trailhead!
We headed out early on a Saturday morning to beat the mid summer Southern Utah heat and got to the trailhead just after the sun peaked over Zion National Park. The sun was just starting to light up Red Cliffs Recreational Area as we parked the truck and hit the trail. You couldn’t ask for a more beautiful start of the day! We drove to the Primitive Camping Area so cut off some distance on the hike, and to test out the 4WD on my truck! We had a good time getting there, and upon arrival, started on the trail.
From the beginning of the trail we were walking through patches of sand, and that was just a foreshadowing of the trail to come. (I must say, it is fun to go on an adventure where you know very little about the place you are going. I started this site/blog, as a means to give people the full picture of their adventure before they go, but there is a bit of excitement in just going and seeing if you can find what you’re looking for!) After rounding the first few rocks the trail before us opened up and we could see across the river to Sky Mountain, and the Navajo Sandstone rock formations were out of this world! I felt like I had landed on Mars and was treading in uncharted territory. It looked like someone had squeezed little piles of red sand all over the place and let them dry.
As we continued on our trek the sand got more loose and started filling our shoes. As we made our decent toward the river bottom we came to a little ridge that we had to drop down that was just a sand hill. What room we had left in our shoes was filled with sand and we made our way down. This point in the trail is important because there is a more prominent trail to the left, but we could see faint tracks going straight down to the right. We chose left, and we ended up at the river with no sign of an arch anywhere. I’m actually glad we went that way first because I had wanted to go down to the river. On our way back we noticed a fork in the trail and looked up, and about 100 yds away was Babylon Arch. We hadn’t seen it on our way down the trail because there was a large rock blocking our view.
We approached the arch with excitement because we had been afraid that we would miss the thing we had come to see. As we approached it was not hard to notice that this arch was unlike any I had ever seen. Babylon Arch is not a typical arch you see in the side of a mountain somewhere. It looks like someone took a hole saw and bored through a huge rock. It is a almost perfectly round hole, and it is very interesting.
The arch is about 8 ft tall and 10 ft wide. We were able to walk right through it as if the rock had been positioned perfectly so the trail could pass through the middle of it. After taking a few pictures of the arch and surrounding rock formations we continued up the trail and were reminded why we decided to take the trail to the left on the way down! We were looking at a sand hill with a 60 degree pitch that we had to climb up (we could have turned around and gone back up the way we had come down, but we wanted the challenge). We made our way up in a step-slide fashion. Eventually we triumphed over the hill and felt good about our accomplishment amid our huffing and puffing.
After emptying our shoes we got back on the trail. It wasn’t far to go now. I looked around me again at the strange rock plop formations and admired their strange uniqueness as our vehicle came into view. This trail was a fantastic reminder that there is so much adventure and beauty to be found, if only I am willing to get out and embark on the journey. Add Babylon Arch to your list! You won’t be disappointed in the trip!
Until next time…your next adventure is right out your door!
This is one of the most popular hikes that no one in St George really knows about that I have found. In other words, I am surprised at how many people have heard about the petroglyphs, or even know where they are, but they are not clearly documented anywhere! To follow the purpose of this site, they will now be documented forever more. There are four main petroglyph sites (that I have been able to find) in this area. If you know of more, feel free to comment below, or send me a personal contact through the site. Two slot canyons you could almost trip over and not know what you missed, a wall of petroglyphs rightly called “Newspaper Rock”, and a rock cleverly named “Sinking Ship Rock”. An approximately 5 mile moderate hike through the red rocks and sand will bring you in a loop to see all these sites. You would never guess it is right off the road, and you could almost throw a rock and hit some of the houses in the neighborhood – they are so close. One of Snow Canyon State Park’s true treasures, and now it can be one of yours! (Updated 5/27/17)