STAY IN TOUCH
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
Total Distance (?)0.9 miles (1.4 km)
Hike Time30 Minutes (Total)
Difficulty (?)Easy
Total Ascent (?)120 feet (37m)
Highest Elevation2,489 feet (759m)
Fees & PermitsFree
Dogs AllowedNo
Alerts & Closures (?)Red 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.

Lone Peak 5

Altra Lone Peak 5
For most people, the Altra Lone Peak is a solid choice that will leave your feet feeling great at the end of any hike. The feel is cushy and light, and if it had a car equivalent, this would be a Cadillac or Mercedes Sedan. The grip is great and they’re reasonably durable for this type of trail runner, which I think is better in most conditions than a hiking boot, and here’s why. The downside of this shoe is that it won’t last as long as something like the Moab 2 (see alternate footwear choices at the bottom of my gear page). I’ve been using mine for many miles and my feet always feel great. Watch my video explaining why they are a great shoe here.

Latest Price on Women’s ShoeREI | Amazon
Latest Price on Men’s ShoeREI | Amazon

Garmin Inreach Mini Beacon

Stay Safe Out of Cell Phone Range
If you’re not familiar with the Garmin InReach technology, it allows you to send and receive text messages where you don’t have cell phone signals. You can also get weather reports and trigger an SOS to emergency responders. Even if you don’t have an emergency, sending a quick message telling a loved one that you’re okay or are running late is well worth the cost. The Garmin InReach Mini (REI | Amazon | My Review) fits in your palm and weighs next to nothing.

Gaiagps

Gaia GPS Mapping App
Smartphones are not backcountry instruments, but almost everyone has one today. And they all have GPS onboard. So I recommend getting a good GPS hiking app like Gaia GPS that supports offline maps. Just make sure to put your phone in airplane mode so the battery doesn’t drain. GaiaGPS not only has smartphone and tablet apps, but also an online planning tool. You can drag the GPX hike tracks from my (or any) guides into the online map and they will sync to your phone. You can also check for wildfires, weather, snow, and choose from dozens of map types with a premium membership (HikingGuy readers get up to 40% off here). Note that I also carry a paper map with me in case the phone dies or gets smashed.

Here’s my complete gear list that I personally use, have tested, and recommend, updated June 2021.

My June 2021 Top Gear Picks

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 a link and buy gear, I get a small commission that helps keep the website ad and promotion free. 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 Here To View Map

Explore Map on CalTopoView a Printable PDF Hike MapDownload the Hike GPX File

If you try to download the GPX file and your browser adds a “.txt” or “.xml” extension to it, simply rename it as a “.gpx” file.

Fenix 6 Pro

How are you going to navigate this hike?
To start, you should always have a paper map and compass. And it helps to print this guide out or save it on your phone. I highly recommend a GPS as well. I use the Garmin Fenix 6 Smart GPS watch ( REI | Amazon | My Review) with maps (or the more affordable Garmin Instinct). The GPS smartwatch is nice because it’s rugged, works if your phone dies, and also has a billion other features like sleep tracking, workout recording, etc.

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

It’s easy to say thank you for this guide!

Support these free hiking guides by buying anything at Amazon or REI using the links below. I get a small commission and there is no extra cost to you. I depend on your clicks to run the website without annoying ads or sponsorships.

Buy Anything on Amazon   Buy Anything on REI.com 

Video Directions

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!

This guide last updated on May 3, 2021. Did something change on this hike? If so, please contact me and let me know. I'll update the guide.

Please help me make these guides better by answering a few short questions. Thank you!

Related Guides

Popular Articles