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 ContactRed 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.

Here’s the gear that I personally use, have tested, and recommend for this hike*.

La Sportiva Spire

La Sportiva Spire GTX

Good for light and more hardcore hikes. Feels like a sneaker but protects like a hiking boot.

Women’s Reviews

Men’s Reviews

Rei Flash 22

REI Flash 22 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

Joby Smartphone Tripod

Make your photos stand out by using this lightweight, do-anything tripod. The Joby attaches your smartphone to trees, rocks, whatever you can find on the trail. Folds down compactly too.

See the Joby Options

Make sure you have all the right gear before hitting the trail!.HikingGuy Best Gear List

* 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.

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 what I use to navigate my hikes. I recommend a combination of paper and electronic options with backups.

Gaiagps

Gaia GPS

Gaia GPS is a planning and navigation tool that you can use on your phone, tablet, and the web. I use it on my phone when I need to interact with the map and know where my position is on it. I use it at home on the computer to plan routes. You can overlay maps such as public lands to find out free places to camp. It’s a powerful tool.

HikingGuy Discount on Gaia GPS

Fenix Nav

Garmin Fenix 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

Topo Map

Topo Maps & Guide Books

Don’t be caught out if your batteries die. Take a topo map with you on the trail. Some people also print my guides out for use on the hike.

I also highly recommend taking a map and compass navigation course. It’s a few hours, it’s fun, and it could save your life.

Map and Compass Navigation Basics Classes

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

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.