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Hike Utah’s Candy Cliffs on the Yant Flats Trail

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If you’re looking for a fun, easy, and short hike in the heart of Southern Utah, the Yant Flats Trail—often referred to as the Candy Cliffs—is a must-do! With its swirling sandstone formations, vibrant colors, and serene atmosphere, Yant Flats is a place where nature’s artistry is on full display.

Sarah at Yant Flats at sunset

From the moment my husband Tim and I set foot on the trail, we were captivated by the otherworldly beauty surrounding us. The gentle incline through the pinyon-juniper forest was just a prelude to the visual feast that awaited us at the Candy Cliffs. As we approached the expanse of colorful sandstone waves, it felt as if we had stepped into a painting.

Every twist and turn of the trail revealed new wonders, each more stunning than the last. The reds, oranges, and pinks of the rock formations contrasted beautifully with the clear blue sky, creating a photographer’s dream. We spent hours exploring the nooks and crannies of the Candy Cliffs.

Read on to find out exactly what to expect on the Yant Flats trail so you, too, can hike through this dreamy landscape!

Yant Flats at sunset

Follow the seven Leave No Trace principles: plan your hike in advance, stick to designated trails, carry out all your belongings, dispose of waste properly, leave natural areas untouched, minimize the impact of campfires, show consideration for fellow hikers, and avoid approaching or feeding wildlife.

Yant Flats Trail At-A-Glance

  • Location: Dixie National Forest near Leeds, Utah
  • Distance: 3.4 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 337 feet
  • Pet Friendly: Yes
  • Fee: None
  • AllTrails Link

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Where is the Yant Flats Trail?

Yant Flats, also known by the apt name “Candy Cliffs”, is a mesmerizing geological wonder located in Southern Utah. It sits in the Dixie National Forest, just northeast of St. George, Utah. This stunning area features vibrant, swirling rock formations and expansive vistas that showcase the unique beauty of the Colorado Plateau.

The textures and shapes of the rock remind me of a dragon’s scaly back. It is truly otherworldly!

Tim at Yant Flats at sunset

How to Get to the Yant Flats Trailhead

Reaching the Yant Flats Trailhead requires a bit of navigation through some rural roads, but the journey is part of the adventure. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you get there:

  1. From St. George: Head north on Interstate 15 (I-15) for about 13 miles until you reach Exit 23 for Leeds.
  2. Exit at Leeds: Take Exit 22 and turn right onto Silver Reef Road, which soon becomes Oak Grove Road.
  3. Oak Grove Road: Follow Oak Grove Road for approximately 2 miles until you reach Forest Road 032.
  4. Forest Road 032: Turn left onto Forest Road 032 (also known as Oak Grove Road or FR-032). This road will take you through the scenic Pine Valley Mountains. Continue on this road for about 7 miles.
  5. Look for the Yant Flats Trailhead Sign: The trailhead is not prominently marked, so keep an eye out for a small sign or parking area. The GPS coordinates for the trailhead are 37°14’04.4″N 113°28’36.7″W.

Road Conditions

The road conditions leading to the Yant Flats Trailhead can vary significantly depending on the time of year and recent weather conditions:

  1. Dry Conditions: During dry weather, the roads are typically passable for most vehicles, including standard sedans. However, the last stretch on Forest Road 032 can be a bit rough and uneven. A vehicle with some clearance, like an SUV, is recommended for a more comfortable ride.
  2. Wet or Snowy Conditions: In wet conditions, the dirt roads can become muddy and slick, making them challenging to navigate. Snow can also make the roads impassable at higher elevations. If there has been recent rain or snow, it’s advisable to check current road conditions before heading out. Local ranger stations or online forums can provide up-to-date information.
  3. General Tips: Regardless of the season, it’s wise to bring a detailed map, plenty of water, and a spare tire, just in case. Cell service can be spotty in the area, so don’t rely solely on your phone for navigation.

Where to Stay Near the Yant Flats Trail

The closest city to the Yant Flats trail is St. George. Use the map below to search hotels and VRBOs nearby!

What to Wear to Hike the Yant Flats Trail

Hiking in the Utah desert, especially on sandstone, requires specific clothing and gear to keep you comfortable and safe in the hot, arid environment. Here’s a guide on what to wear:

Clothing

  1. Moisture-Wicking T-Shirt
  • Wear a lightweight, moisture-wicking T-shirt to keep sweat away from your body. Synthetic materials or merino wool work well.
  1. Lightweight Hiking Shorts or Pants
  1. Sun Protection Shirt
  • A long-sleeve sun shirt with UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) can help protect your skin from the harsh sun. Look for breathable, lightweight fabric to stay cool.
  1. Wide-Brimmed Hat or Cap
  • A wide-brimmed hat provides excellent sun protection for your face and neck. A cap with a neck flap is also a good option.

Footwear

  1. Hiking Shoes or Trail Runners
  • Wear sturdy hiking shoes like these Merrell Boots or trail runners with good grip to handle the sandstone terrain. Make sure they are well-broken in to prevent blisters.
  • Avoid heavy hiking boots, as they might be unnecessary for a flat hike and can cause overheating.
  1. Moisture-Wicking Socks
  • Choose hiking socks made of wool or synthetic materials to keep your feet dry and prevent blisters.
  • Ankle-length socks are typically sufficient for a short hike.

Accessories

  1. Sunglasses
  • Wear sunglasses with UV protection to shield your eyes from the intense desert sun.
  1. Sunblock and Lip Balm
  • Apply broad-spectrum sunblock with SPF 30 or higher to all exposed skin.
  • Use lip balm with SPF to protect your lips from sunburn.
  1. Hydration Pack or Water Bottle
  • Carry plenty of water to stay hydrated. A hydration pack or a lightweight water bottle is essential.
  • Aim for at least 1 liter of water for a short hike, more if it’s particularly hot.
  1. Lightweight Backpack
  • A small daypack can hold your water, snacks, and any extra gear you might need.
  • Choose a backpack with mesh pockets for easy access to your water bottle.

Yant Flats Trail Description

Trailhead

Starting from the trailhead, the Yant Flats Trail begins with a gentle incline through a scenic stretch of pinyon-juniper forest. The sandy trail is well-marked and easy to follow.

Initial Ascent

After about a mile, the trail starts to open up, providing your first glimpse of the spectacular rock formations that make Yant Flats famous. The incline becomes slightly steeper here, but nothing too strenuous. The path winds through a series of slickrock sections, with patches of sand interspersed. These initial views are just a taste of what’s to come, so take your time and enjoy the evolving landscape.

Reaching the Candy Cliffs

Approximately 1.7 miles in, you’ll arrive at the heart of Yant Flats, the Candy Cliffs. This is where the trail truly shines. The landscape transforms into a breathtaking expanse of colorful, swirling sandstone formations that resemble a painter’s palette. The reds, oranges, pinks, and whites of the rock create a vivid tapestry that’s nothing short of magical.

Exploration

The Candy Cliffs area is a large, open expanse where the official trail fades, allowing you to explore at your own pace. There’s no single path to follow here; instead, you’re free to wander and discover the countless nooks and crannies of the sandstone waves. Be sure to bring a camera, as the photo opportunities are endless.

Sarah and Tim at Yant Flats during Golden Hour

Return Journey

When you’re ready to head back, simply retrace your steps. The return hike is mostly downhill, making for a pleasant and leisurely stroll back to the trailhead.

Sarah at Yant Flats at sunset

Nearby Destinations

Southern Utah is full of gems worthy of adding to your itinerary! Chances are your hike on the Yant Flats trail is part of a larger trip, so here are some additional places nearby to make the most of your Utah road trip!

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