Scout Cave

Interesting views to the south can be enjoyed from within the cave.

The Scout Cave trail is very popular with local hikers and committed bikers.  The southern portion is also used by equestrians. The trail can be accessed from the south via the Gila trail in Paradise Canyon or from the north via the Johnson’s Canyon or Kestrel trails.

The Paradise Canyon route to the caves may start from either the Gap trailhead via the Gecko and Paradise Rim trails or the Chuckwalla trailhead via the Chuckwalla and Beck Hill trails. A short distance from the beginning of the Gila trail at its junction with Beck Hill, visitors may take the unsigned Scout Cave trail (firm soil and/or rocky) to the left or the signed trail (soft sand suitable for equestrians) about 200 yards further north. The dirt and rocky, single-track trail heads west and up to the slick rock rim and continues for about 0.2 mile before it starts the descent down to the cave area. The first few hundred yards down are steep in places and very rocky throughout. The distance from the Gap trailhead  to the caves is about 2.5 miles with about 800 feet elevation change. The trail is of moderate to strenuous difficulty due to the steep, rocky sections. This section would also be a deterrent for most bikers and all equestrians.

The northern route is via the Johnson’s Canyon trail. About 0.5 mile from the Johnson Canyon trailhead on Snow Canyon Drive,  the Scout Cave trail takes off to the right and heads south over a large, lava bed. The singe-track trail is rocky (lava) until it drops down into the wash (about 1 mile from trailhead). After the drop, the sandy trail continues above or through the wash for about 0.5 mile and then heads east up a side wash to the caves. The distance from the trailhead to the caves is about 2.0 miles with an elevation change of about 850 feet. The lava rocks on the first half of the trail would be a challenge for bikers and is of moderate to strenuous difficulty for all other visitors.

The entire trail may be hiked from end to end with the use of a shuttle or a long loop hike using city trails outside the Reserve/NCA. Total elevation change is about 1650 feet. The northern trailhead is about 100 feet higher than the southern. Both routes provide nice views from the rims and of the spectacular red sandstone cliffs along much of the trail.  The caves are interesting formations to explore and require rock scrambling to enter.  Please respect the environment throughout the trail and in the caves by carrying out all refuse and litter.