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Ashdown Gorge - Dixie National Forest

A non-technical slot canyon of deep overhangs, waterfalls and shear limestone cliffs. Includes Flanigan Arch.
Rating: 2 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Strenuous
Length: 5.9 miles
Duration: Half day

Overview :  ** Update: as of 5pm 8/3/012 hwy-14 is expected to reopen all hours and days. Work is still being done and part of the road is gravel... more »

Tips:  Backcountry Route! Safely hiking backcountry routes depend on your own good judgment, adequate preparation, and constant attention to ... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Hwy-14 Closed due to landslide

As of 9/2011 a massive landslide has destroyed the road in Cedar Canyon at the junction of Ashdown Gorge and Cole Creek. Setting up a shuttle system might be impossible. Please contact Dixie National Forest office for details.

2. Ashdown Gorge Trailhead

The trailhead for Ashdown Gorge can only be reached by using either the Rattlesnake Trail, or Potato Hollow Trail. High Mountain Trail, Crystal Springs Trail and even Blowhard Trail all converge into either Rattlesnake or Potato Hollow. Many choose to hike up from the bottom and view only as much of Ashdown Gorge as they so desire.

3. Slot Canyon

Ashdown Gorge is a non-technical slot canyon. Carefully evaluate the weather and the potential threat of flash flood BEFORE entering this narrow canyon. Carved from soft limestone much of Ashdown Gorge contains incredible overhangs as the force of water has eroded the steep walls.

4. The Route is the River

Hiking down stream inside a slot canyon requires 3 things: Walking sticks or poles, good water shoes and in cold water hiking neoprene socks! Some advise getting in the river and staying there thus avoiding the frequent crossing of the stream. I found better speed from hiking over land where I could see all the pitfalls instead of trying to see ... More

5. Tom's Head

After only 3/4 mile (seems longer) the way opens up into a small amphitheater with duel spires in the center right. Tom's Head marks the confluence of Rattlesnake and Lake Creek into Ashdown Gorge.

Time permitting take the 1.9 mile round trip (1:47 minutes) to view the narrow slot canyons and beautiful waterfalls both streams create.

6. Rattlesnake / Lake Creek Slot Canyon

The travel is easier and water crossing are less stressful in this slower moving, smaller volume stream. About mid way is a teaser waterfall with ladder located on the left to help ascend the obstacle. Spread throughout this small side canyon is a beautiful green plant with vibrant red berries. Really adds color to the sickly yellow limestone.

7. Rattlesnake Creek Waterfall

Another fork in the river. Turn right and work through the increasingly narrow slot canyon. Use caution as some bouldering is necessary to arrive at the waterfall. The boulders are wet and slick from the constant moisture in the air.

8. Lake Creek Waterfall

After only a short hike in the Lake Creek slot canyon the waterfall appears. Created by a series of chockstones that blocked the stream and created a down spout behind the largest chockstone.

9. Higher and Deeper

The further west one travels in Ashdown Gorge the higher the surrounding cliffs (and overhangs) become; reaching astonishing heights of hundreds of feet. Fresh debris is noted in areas where the limestone color clashes with the stream bed causes you to worry about the house size boulders that surround the riverbed. I had forgotten my helmet and ... More

10. Death takes a Holiday

Passing through a large curve in the stream bed beneath a towering overhang, a hundred stories in the air, you try to catch your breath. The debris field is massive and contains many boulders the size of houses and cars. At this point it is best to leave the stream bed and work your way through the rubble cutting off a portion of the curve. ... More

11. Flanigan Arch

Sitting on the Northern slope near the ridge line is Flanigan Arch. After passing the building size black boulder and continuing down stream there is a spot where two bus sized boulders make the stream converge. The bus on the right has a pine tree growing on top of it. Because you are required to enter the stream at this point, when you reach... More

12. Cole Creek

Continuing down stream the walls begin to open up and soon another stream enters from your left. Cole Creek adds it's run off to the increasing size of volume in the stream bed. The way is more difficult for a short time as large rocks and boulders make stream crossing more challenging. Use caution as energy stores wain and enthusiasm drops,... More

13. Wide travel and 1940's vehicles

The stream bed turns to small stones and the wading in and out of the water is wide and easy to negotiate. Look to the South along the rivers edge and you'll notice 1940's vehicles used in mining and erosion prevention.

14. Exit Riverbed

Soon a gravel road can be seen on the left as you exit the riverbed to the awaiting shuttle car.