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Babylon Arch on the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve near St. George is a lovely feature unto itself, but the real thrill of this hike is the journey. The trail winds from the Sand Cove Primitive Campground through a maze-like landscape of red rock formations. Desert life abounds on the trail. You can look for beautiful desert plants like cliffrose, sand verbena and Sonoran scrub oak; lizards; snakes; and — if you're lucky — the rare desert tortoise.

Directions • From Leeds, take Main Street (State Road 228) northeast to 900 North and turn southeast. Stay on 900 North as it bends south and turns to a dirt road, driving for just under 3 miles to a left turn (east) into the Babylon trailhead parking lot. If you don't have four-wheel drive, do not attempt the final half mile; I have seen two cars stuck in the sand. Instead, park at the trailhead and hike on the signed Flicker Trail southeast about a half mile southeast a quarter mile to the wash, where it meets with a dirt road you can walk another quarter mile southeast to the parking circle and trailhead.

If you have four-wheel drive, stay on the dirt road that runs along the north edge of the parking lot. Go east about 0.2 mile and bend south, down to a wash. Cross the wash and go another quarter mile south and east to the parking loop at Sand Cove.

Hike • The trailhead is signed and at the southern end of the fence running along the parking area and primitive campground. Follow the cairns south and west for about 0.4 mile to a trail junction. Go right (west), hiking down a steep, sandy hill about 0.1 mile to Babylon Arch. Trails run above and below the large rock mound in the middle of the hill; both go to the arch.

From the arch, you can continue another 0.3 mile south and west on the trail to the Virgin River. Return the way you came. Hiking back up the steep sandy area above the Babylon Arch is somewhat difficult.

The hike is beautiful but shadeless; bring plenty of water and wear sunblock and a hat.

Digital map available at: .

— Erin Alberty

Babylon Arch - Red Cliffs Desert Reserve

Hiking time • 2 hours

Round-trip miles • 1.6 miles

Elevation gain • 300 feet

Difficulty • Easy

Trailhead restrooms • No

Dogs allowed • Yes, leashed

Bikes allowed • n/a

Fees • n/a