Cedar City is a unique college town tucked away in the mountains and pine trees of Southern Utah. While it is known for Southern Utah University and its theatrical performances, it also has its fair share of outdoor recreation and incredible hiking trails. Often a bit cooler than its neighbor Saint George due to its elevation, it can be a great spot to visit in the summer. In the wintertime, be prepared for snow and potentially taking a different route to visit due to road closures. No matter what season, one of my favorite trails to visit in Cedar City is the Lion’s Mouth.
The Lion’s Mouth is accessible via any passenger vehicle, about 18 miles west of Cedar City. The roads are paved until the last stretch which turns into a well maintained dirt road. The road leads vehicles to a small pullout on the right side. Hikers should leave their cars here. The trail entrance is at a break in the fence and a small step up over some logs.
The trail is only about a mile round trip. It immediately starts gaining elevation as it leads hikers up a hill. The area has been cleared of trees in a controlled burn to prevent forest fires, giving hikers a wide view of the landscape. Sprawling evergreen hills are covered in enormous pine trees, rustling in crisp mountain breeze.
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The hill levels out and the trail leads to an enormous rock surrounded by trees. The west side of the rock opens up and reveals a path up to a small alcove. Walls of the alcove are covered with colorful, bubbly pictographs. The art is so modern and different that some have questioned its authenticity. Reds and yellows create most of the figures, one of the most notable looking like the outline of a bunny head. The rock itself is named the Lion’s Mouth because it is shaped like a lion’s head and mouth. It is possible to climb to the top of the rock and get an even more elevated view of the mountains.
The trail is short and easy, the clear path making it a great option for individuals of all ages and fitness levels. Dogs are allowed as well. There is no shade, so pack sunscreen and avoid hiking in the middle of the day in the summertime. Bring plenty of water to keep hydrated and fight off any potential altitude sickness. Typically you will have the whole trail to yourselves, enjoying the peace and quiet. It is a beautiful place to enjoy fresh air and interpret unique colorful rock art.
Written by Lauren Kehoe