Cottonwood Hills


This popular equestrian trail can be accessed from multiple locations including the Cottonwood trailhead via the Cottonwood Canyon trail, the Mill Creek trailhead via the Prospector and Spanish Wash trails, or off the Bracken’s Loop trail via the Coachwhip trail, among others.  The trail itself is only 3 miles long but is generally ridden in concert with several other connecting trails, some as far away as the Red Cliffs trailhead to the northeast.  Up and down elevation change from the Cottonwood trailhead to the trail’s junction with Spanish Wash is about 965 feet.  Because the majority of the trail is very sandy, it is generally unsuitable for biking.  Moreover, bikes are not authorized on that portion of the trail that crosses through the wilderness area. Hikers may find the trail very enjoyable during wetter, winter months when the sand is firm or shortly after a rain.  The trail parallels much of the southern boundary of the Cottonwood Canyon wilderness area and provides outstanding views to the north.  Portions of the west end wind through superb slickrock formations with red, yellow, and white sandstone.  Hikers can make a nice 6-7 mile loop starting out of the Cottonwood trailhead by taking Cottonwood Hills to Spanish Wash and dropping south to the Prospector trail and returning to the Cottonwood trailhead.  Average time for this hike is 4 -5 hours plus stops for photos, lunch, and enjoying the scenery on the northern part of the loop.  Total elevation change up and down on this loop is about 1530 feet.