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  • Writer's pictureDan Wagner

Explore Utah's Yant Flat Candy Cliffs & Yellow Top

In a state overflowing with natural wonders and geological marvels, Utah's Yant Flat remains strangely overlooked. Situated between St. George and Leeds, just a mile from Yankee Doodle Canyon, Yant Flat rivals many of the more well-known scenic spots southern Utah has in its arsenal. Its mesmerizing Candy Cliffs and otherworldly formation known as Yellow Top make hiking through Yant Flat an unforgettable experience, certain to etch lasting memories for all who visit.

Yant Flat Yellow Top

Trailhead elevation 4,573'

Water Scarce puddles after heavy rain

Don't miss The views of Zion National Park to the east, Signal Peak to the north

Hiking to Candy Cliffs & Yellow Top

One of the challenges in hiking the trail is just getting to it. The dirt, gravel, and fairly rutted road leading to the trailhead is challenging to navigate, even in dry conditions. Standard SUVs usually fare well, but sedans should not attempt the drive. The unmarked trailhead is located along Danish Ranch Road/Route 031 near coordinates 37.234836, -113.477156. The parking area can accommodate three to four vehicles. From the trailhead, the initial 1.7 miles of the trail consist mainly of sand and slickrock, flanked by pinyon-juniper trees, yucca plants, prickly pear, and cholla cacti.

Yant Flat Utah

The Pine Ridge Mountains loom in the background, while the grandeur of Zion and glimpses of the White Cliffs of Escalante are visible to the east for much of this segment. At approximately 1.7 miles, the sandy trail ends at a large slickrock area. From this point onward, having a downloaded trail map can be of great help. Continuing on, after another quarter mile, the trail reaches the beginning of the area dominated by the Candy Cliffs, a series of rock formations named for their swirling candy-like appearance.

Yant Flat Candy Cliffs

The initial formations bear a resemblance to those scattered across different areas of Zion National Park or those found near the Head of Rock Overlook east of Escalante. However, as hikers venture deeper along the trail, more vibrant colors and patterns begin to emerge. Formed some 190 million years ago during the Jurassic period, these pink and white sandstone formations echo an era when dinosaurs roamed the region.

Yant Flat Candy Cliffs

Around the 2.1-mile mark, hikers encounter a brief yet steep descent around the backside of the third of three beehive formations along the trail. It's important to descend only after passing the last beehive formation and not beforehand; any sooner and hikers will be faced with dangerous cliffs that pose significant risk. The photo below captures the view from below the formations, looking back at them.

Yant Flat Candy Cliffs

Once beneath the beehive formations, the trail curves leftward, leading into a narrow canyon descent. After maneuvering through the canyon for a little over a third of a mile, the landscape expands, revealing Yellow Top, to the left. Yellow Top stands out as one of the most remarkable rock formations in the Southwest, with its two domes adorned in shades of pink, red, white, and yellow, reminiscent of something from the pages of a science fiction novel rather than reality. Reaching the formation involves some minor route finding, but generally, it's best to ascend the small cliffs nearest to the formation, rather than those immediately after exiting the canyon.

Yant Flat Yellow Top

After exploring, hikers can backtrack along the same path to return to the trailhead. It's important to be aware that there is minimal shade along this trail, and it can become intensely hot during the summer months. Having hiked it three times, at various times of the day, I found it most enjoyable as a sunset hike, when the colors of both Candy Cliffs and Yellow Top really come to life.

If you're planning a southern Utah adventure make sure to check out Ten Days in Southern Utah: The Mighty Five & Beyond for some interesting options.


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