Explore Utah's Snow Canyon State Park Cinder Cone
Less than fifteen miles north of St George in Utah's Snow Canyon State Park lies Cinder Cone, an ancient volcano rising more than 500' from the Diamond Valley floor. Part of the larger Santa Clara Volcano, a volcanic field and lava flow in the region, Cinder Cone's last eruption is believed to have been sometime around 27,000 years ago. Today, it's one of the more interesting geological features in the area and provides incredible views from its rim.
Trailhead elevation 4,482'
Don't miss The views from the northern rim, walking down into the center of the cone
Hiking Cinder Cone
The short, but fairly steep trail, mainly over loose pumice, begins from the parking area along Rt-18 and quickly passes through an ancient lava flow.
The trail follows the southwest base of the volcano, briefly runs along private property marked with a sign and fence, then wraps around the north side steepening quickly. The photo below was taken off the main trail to show the grade of the north side of the Cinder Cone Trail.
The last one-tenth of a mile gains roughly 200' and the loose pumice trail surface can be fairly slippery. Once on top of the rim you'll have views of the Diamond Valley and Cinder Cone's smaller sister volcano to the north, Signal Peak and the Pine Valley Mountains to the east, and Snow Canyon, Snow Canyon Petrified Dunes, and West Mountain Peak to the south. The views are remarkable. If you choose to walk the entirety of the rim you're looking at about a half mile or so. To put the volcano's size into perspective you'll notice my father and I standing near an outcropping near the bottom of the photo below.
Once you've had your fill, return the way you came up or descend the faint trail leading down the northern slope. It may actually take you longer to descend the northern slope versus returning the way you arrived due to the incredibly loose footing and constant need to shake out all the pumice that constantly fill your shoes, but at least you know there's more than one way to get down.
Cinder Cone is definitely worth a stop when traveling from Las Vegas to Zion National Park or vice versa, or if spending time in the St George area. Snow Canyon State Park has some other pretty great hikes including Pioneer Names, Petrified Dunes, Snow Canyon, Scout Cave, and Lava Tube, and if you have more time they're also worth checking out. If you're planning a trip to southern Utah make sure to check out our Ten Days in Southern Utah: The Mighty Five & Beyond for some great ideas and a few hidden gems.
Have a blast and make some memories on your next adventure!