Dixie Outdoors: Fishhook Trail full of impressive rock formations

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The risk of losing the fun factor arises when choosing an unfamiliar trail to explore, but the thrill of the unexpected can turn into a surprisingly pleasant adventure.

When I’ve set out on a hike in the past, I generally start out with a plan. I tend to know where I’m going and what the trail looks like. This time around I wanted to do something different. I searched online for trails in the St. George area, and I randomly came across the Fishhook Trail at the Santa Clara River Reserve.

Finding the trailhead isn’t hard. You drive through Santa Clara until about half a mile past the Jacob Hamblin Home on 3356 Santa Clara Drive, and a dirt and gravel road to the trail is on the left of Santa Clara Drive.

The trail doesn’t look like much on first impression. That day, the weather looked as though rain was on its way, and the area looked like it needed it. The brush looked as though it had the potential to be beautiful if hydrated. Once spring hits the plants in a month or so, there should be flowers blooming all over around the trail, including on a lot of the small cactuses.

The trail is fairly flat the whole way through. It’s a nice trail for outdoor runners to enjoy, as well as beginning mountain bikers. Just watch where you step; there are some cactuses pretty close to the trail’s edge. I found myself jumping out of the way of a cactus more than once because I wasn’t paying attention to where I was walking. However, if you watch where you step, you shouldn’t have any problems.

Even though this trail starts off alone, after a short way into it, there’s a spot where it forks into several other trail choices. I chose the Lower Graveyard Trail that eventually leads into the Tempi’po’op Trail, which means “rock writing” in Southern Paiute. 

At that point, the trail is still very flat, and the only thing that really changes is the mountain scenery in the distant and the slight view of a far cliff side straight ahead. Once on the Tempi’po’op part of the trail, however, I was lead straight to the near side of the cliffs. The surprise is the green plants and the river that sits in the small valley between the cliffs.

The rock formations are fascinating. The rocks that form the cliffs are square-like and daunting at first glance, but I actually found a good spot to climb down onto small ledges to look closely at the writing on the rocks people have left over the years. On a less windy day, one could probably carefully climb all the way to the bottom of the cliff side to the river. There are obviously other trails that lead directly down to the river from other spots nearby, which would be safer than climbing down.

This trail initially looks like any other easy trail, but the surprise view at the end changes it and creates a nice spot to enjoy the day, hang your feet over the edge and be a little adventurous. I took a chance on an outdoor spot that I’d never heard of before, and it ended up being beautiful and well worth the short walk out to it.