Red Cliffs Trail (Red Rock Canyon State Park, California)

Red Cliffs Trail Hike – Red Rock Canyon SP

In This Guide
  • Turn by Turn Hike Directions & Video
  • Maps For the Hike
  • How to Get to the Red Cliffs Trail
Distance0.9 miles (1.4 km)
Hike Time30 Minutes (Total)
DifficultyEasy
Total Ascent (?)120 feet (37m)
Highest Elevation2,489 feet (759m)
Fees & PermitsFree
Dog FriendlyNo
Park WebsiteRed Rock Canyon State Park
Park Phone661-946-6092

The Red Cliffs Trail is an easy 1 mile loop hike in a unique Mojave Desert landscape. You’ll pass the namesake Red Cliffs, rock formations of eroded sandstone, mudstone, and volcanic rock, thrusted up above the desert floor by faulting. It’s also been the backdrop of many movies and television shows. The Red Cliffs Trail is a great place to stretch your legs if you’re traveling between LA and the Eastern Sierra or Death Valley.

Getting to the Red Cliffs Trail

The trailhead address is: Red Cliffs Natural Area, Cantil, CA, 93519, USA. It’s a great option for a roadside rest stop and hike.

Red Cliffs Trail California
Follow the road from the turnoff on Rt 14 to the parking lot.

There are free bathrooms here, and there’s primitive camping across the street by the Hagen Canyon hike.

Red Cliffs Trail California
There’s bathrooms here, as well as picnic benches. A good spot for a break on a long drive.

Gear for the Red Cliffs Trail Hike

This is a short hike and you don’t need any special hiking gear. In the summer it can get really hot. You’re basically on the border of the Mojave Desert, the Eastern Sierra Nevada, and the western El Paso range. Bring water, even though it’s a short hike.

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Here’s the gear that I personally use, have tested, and recommend for this hike.See All of My Best Gear Picks Here

La Sportiva Spire

High-Tech Hybrid Shoes

Great for all hikes – short ones to 10+ miles Feels like a sneaker but protects like a hiking boot.

Women’s Reviews

Men’s Reviews

Rei Flash 22

The Best Low-Cost, High-Quality Pack

This is a super-light and comfortable backpack that can hold everything you need on a hike, including a hydration bladder. It also works great as a general backpack or carry-on.

See Colors & Prices

Joby On Triee

Best Tripod For the Outdoors

Joby tripods attach to anything. The legs are adjustable and grippy, so you can put them on trees, packs, rocks, whatever. And they work like regular tripods too. Works with everything from smartphones to DSLRs.

Checkout Joby Tripods

No company pays me to promote or push a product, all the gear you see here is gear I use and recommend. If you click an REI link and buy gear, I get a small commission that helps offset website expenses. There is no cost to you.

Gear For Off the Trail

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What To Know About the Hike

Desert Tortoise Red Cliffs
Keep your eyes open for the desert tortoise. They’re hard to spot, but how cool would it be if you actually saw one? Photo from the BLM.

Red Cliffs Trail Maps

Click To View Map

Red Cliffs Trail Hike – Red Rock Canyon SP Map Downloads

Download the Hike GPX File

View a Printable PDF Hike Map

Here’s How I Navigate The Hike

People ask me all the time, so here you go. I have a few backups that you can see on my gear page, but generally I use a combination of these tools.

Fenix 5x Hiking Nav

Garmin Fenix Map Watch

This thing does everything: maps, GPX tracks, compass, barometer, altitude, heart rate, blood oxygen, fitness tracking, sleep tracking, and the list goes on. I keep a GPX route on the watch so I can quickly glance down and make sure I’m in the right place.

Fenix Prices & Reviews

My In-Depth Review

Gaia Gps

Gaia GPS

I load a few types of offline maps onto my smartphone when I need to interact with the map in detail. I also use it before my hikes as a planning tool for all kinds of things, including finding free government land to camp on. The benefits are many, I highly recommend it.

Gaia GPS Benefits

HikingGuy Discount

Paper Nav

Topo Maps & Guide Books

Don’t be caught out if your batteries die. Take a topo map with you on the trail and learn how to read it. Some people also print my guides out for use on the hike. I’m a map geek and I love to pour over maps and guide books when planning my next adventure.

Browse Topo Maps

Great Hiking Guide Books

Don’t just rely on a cell phone, especially if you are hiking in the backcountry.

Red Cliffs Trail California 3d map
The hike takes you along the base of the cliffs (on the left), then up onto a ridge where you get nice views across to the Red Cliffs.

Red Cliffs Hike Directions

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Video Directions

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Turn by Turn Hike Directions

Red Cliffs Trail California
The parking lot is massive. The trailhead is on the side closest to the cliffs.
Red Cliffs Trail California
Once you park, the red cliffs will be looming over view to the north.
Red Cliffs Trail California
The trailhead is well marked. Start the hike at the sign.
Red Cliffs Trail California
Most of the trail is marked with stones on either side. Lots of stones and footprints.
Red Cliffs Trail California
There are also occasional little trail signs, keep your eyes open for them.
Red Cliffs Trail California
After you climb a gentle grade, you’ll come to the first junction, marked by a small sign. Keep going straight.
Red Cliffs Trail California
You’ll go downhill for a few minutes and hit the next trail junction, marked by a low sign. Stay right on the well-trodden trail. There are smaller trails that go straight that you should avoid.
Red Cliffs Trail California
Here’s a closeup of the sign at the last junction.
Red Cliffs Trail California
Keep an eye out as the trail makes a right turn up the ridge. There’s a marker too.
Red Cliffs Trail California
The trail will climb through a grove of Joshua Trees.
Red Cliffs Trail California
There are nice photo opportunities with the Joshua Trees and the Red Cliffs in the background.
Red Cliffs Trail California
Towards the top of the trail bear left and head to the top of the ridge.
Red Cliffs Trail California
When the trail reaches the top of the ridge, you’ll have great views.
Red Cliffs Trail California
Continue down the ridge trail. There’s a nice bench where you can rest and check out views of the Red Cliffs.
Red Cliffs Trail California
Continue on the ridge trail as it starts to descend.
Red Cliffs Trail California
When you reach the junction, make the hard right toward the parking lot.
Red Cliffs Trail California
The trail is marked with stones on its sides as it heads back toward the parking lot.
Red Cliffs Trail California
Keep following the trail back to the parking lot. That’s the hike!

Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.

If you see trash on the trail, please pick it up and carry it out. Be a good egg and practice no trace principles.