Right in my metaphorical backyard,behind the mountain I look at from my back door, and a mere 20 minute drive up paved roads, is an amazing red rock canyon chock full of adventure.
Utah Rocks! back episodes: Ep. 1: Goblins and Jasper Geodes; Ep. 2: Hoodoo you think you are
Red Ledges picnic area is located on the north side of Diamond Fork Road, off US 6/ 89 just outside of Spanish Fork, UT. There is a bathroom next to the parking lot. Each picnic site includes a table with benches on a cement pad with barbecue grills. The area is day use only, NO FEE REQUIRED :)
200 Million Years Old...
The mind boggles but the red sandstone exposed here (Ankareh formation) is from the upper Triassic (237 - 201 mya). Similar to the Entrada sandstone that resulted in the crazy shapes of Goblin Valley (see episode 1), the Ankareh sandstone in this area was originally deposited in a tidal flat system.
Along with the red rocks, the other dominant landscape features are twisted Utah juniper trees.
The juniper trees are dramatic exclamation points on the skyline, somehow clinging to smooth sandstone with serpentine trunks and roots.
Keep your eyes out for prickly pear cactus, they poke out from the red dirt here and there and it is easy to miss them as you are scrambling up or down the steep trails.
Small seeps and trickles of water have carved out a number of small side canyons, and you can hike up almost all of them. The well defined trails that lead off from the main parking lot and each of the picnic areas quickly dissolve into a jumble of paths that more or less go straight up and over the rocks.
It doesn't matter too much which trail you take, they all lead up. In a few places side trails are accessible if you have the upper body strength to hold onto straps that are dangling down and make a short scramble up a vertical smooth rock wall.
All of the trails quickly get steep. My four year old son was able to reach the top unassisted, but he is a veteran hiker and all around mountain goat - I wouldn't call these trails easy by any stretch of the imagination. You will almost certainly have to use your hands and scramble in places.
The views are worth it!
If you think you are physically capable of a short but very steep scramble, the vistas that open up almost immediately as you begin climbing are amazing!
Sandstone terraces on the bluff across from the red ledges:
Steep, you say?
I went off trail and and followed a water seep up a couple of sections of near vertical sandstone:
I followed the water seep all the way up before cutting over and descending back down one of the trails.
On this descent the trail passed through a cave / tunnel section under several huge sandstone blocks. Inside the tunnel, looking up at a window:
More to see...
Despite basically running up and down the canyon side for hours I feel like I didn't even see half the trails. There were so many lesser worn side trails branching off, and all of them led somewhere cool I am sure. We will definitely be back to keep on exploring, I am incredibly excited that it is so close to my house!