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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.

Griptightone Gpod Tree

Better Than a Selfie Stick
Part of the fun of a hike is taking pictures, and a flexible JOBY smartphone tripod takes it to the next level. You can use it as a selfie stick, as a regular tripod, but more importantly, as a flexible tripod that can attach to tree branches and other objects. It’s not expensive, and it’s something you can use when not hiking too.

Latest Price – Amazon

Astro Headlamp

Your Biggest Asset If You Get Lost
If something goes wrong and you get lost, sprain your ankle, or get delayed, you might be caught out after dark. And one of the top items that search and rescue departments recommend you carry is a light. Now smartphones have lights, but they drain the battery quickly. It’s better to invest in an expensive yet high-quality headlamp like the Black Diamond Astro 250. It takes AAA batteries, can last 200 hours, and has an emergency strobe. Carry it with you off the trail to use in emergencies as well.

Latest Price – Amazon – REI

Rei Member Card 2

REI Membership Saves You Money Forever
Have you shopped at REI before? They have all kinds of active clothes and gear, from fitness, to hiking, to snow sports, to casual wear. It’s an overall great place to shop (here’s why) and they offer a $20 membership that gets you 10% back on everything for life, along with frequent coupons, discounts, and member-only sales. It’s a no-brainer.

REI Membership – Get It Here

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

My September 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

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.

Gaiagps

How Are You Going to Navigate This Hike?
If you are a hardcore hiker and/or hike in extreme conditions, I recommend getting a dedicated GPS like a GPSMAP 66sr or 66i, or a wrist-based GPS with maps like the Garmin Fenix 6. If you only hike in fair weather and a touchscreen is fine, or just want a solid tool, I highly recommend downloading the smartphone app, Gaia GPS. It’s a piece of cake to use and very powerful, just make sure your phone is in airplane mode so the battery doesn’t drain. You can also check for wildfires, weather, snow, and choose from dozens of map types with a premium membership (HikingGuy readers get a big discount here). Note that I also carry a paper map with me in case the phone dies or gets smashed.

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

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.

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