Heath

The Heath trail is a strenuous back country wash located primarily in the Cottonwood Canyon wilderness area and the Red Cliffs NCA.  It is most often accessed from the Cottonwood trailhead via the Cottonwood Canyon trail. From the trailhead to the junction of Heath and Cottonwood Canyon trails is about 2.5 miles.  The junction may or may not be marked with a sign, but the trail breaks off from Cottonwood Creek to the north and should be easily recognized when travelling in that direction.  The wash is heavily bouldered with large, granitic rocks originating from the Pine Valley Mountains.  Consequently, it is not well suited for most equestrians.   Bikes are not authorized inside the wilderness area. Like other trails in this part of the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, views of the red and white sandstone cliffs and other formations can be spectacular.  Visitors can explore side canyons and some of the scenic upland areas above the wash, but all visitors should be prepared with adequate water, clothing, maps, and/or GPS units for personal safety and to avoid getting disoriented.  Hiking is not recommended here during or immediately after heavy rains due to danger from flash floods.  Distance from the junction with Cottonwood Creek to the Danish Ranch Road on the north in the Dixie National Forest is about 4 miles, 2½ miles of which are on lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management.

A popular option to the hike from the Cottonwood trailhead is to shuttle a vehicle to the Danish Ranch Road through the Town of Leeds, Utah and park at the head of the drainage. Because the upper part of Heath Wash is heavily vegetated and difficult to navigate, most hikers will proceed past the Heath Wash junction to the head of Big Hollow on the sharp curve and park in the pullout by the road.  Entry to the canyon at this point is easy and Big Hollow offers an excellent canyon hike along a sandy, bouldered wash bottom with impressive walls and rock formations.  It joins Heath Wash about 1/3 down Heath’s length, missing very little of the canyon’s best features.  Distance to Cottonwood Creek on this alignment is about four miles with an elevation loss of 765 feet.  Continuing on to the Cottonwood trailhead entails another 2.5 miles with a loss of another 250 feet. Total up and down elevation change from the head of Big Hollow to the southern trailhead is about 1275 feet.  Shuttle time from the Cottonwood trailhead back to the drop off point on Big Hollow is about 30 minutes, one way.  Travel on the Danish Ranch Road should only be made in dry weather and with a high clearance vehicle for maximum safety.

BLM recreation website on Heath trail