The Brackens Loop Trail traverses scenic areas within the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve north of Washington City, Utah. This loop trail starts at the Prospector Trail just north of the Washington water tank near Interstate I15. Part way around the loop is a short connector trail, the Coachwhip Trail, that connects to the upper reaches of Spanish Wash.
Brackens loop is about 1.3 miles from the nearest parking spot, either from the start of the Grapevine trail at I15 exit 13, or from the Coral Canyon subdivision.
Overall rating = moderate
Distance: 6.0 miles – moderate
Elevation gain: ~700 feet total – moderate
Terrain: mainly sand – moderate
Exposure: none – easy
To see the trail rating system used here see Trail Rating System
Access to Brackens Loop is either by way of the Grapevine Trail near I15 exit 13 or from the Coral Canyon subdivision, in either case a distance of about 1.3 miles. We gained access from the Coral Canyon subdivision.
If coming from the north, take Interstate I15 exit 16 to State Road 9 east towards Hurricane. Turn right at the first set of traffic lights onto Telegraph Street, 6300W, and drive 2.5 miles to the first set of traffic lights at Highland Parkway. Turn right and drive up the hill to the end of the Parkway Road past Highlands park and onto Horizons Parkway parking at the north end of the parking lot.
If coming from the south, take Interstate I15 exit 13 south on Washington Parkway 1.1 miles to Telegraph Street and turn left. Travel 1.1 miles to the traffic light at Highland Parkway and turn left and drive up the hill to the end of the Parkway Road past Highlands park and onto Horizons Parkway parking at the north end of the parking lot.
From the trailhead at the north end of the Highland Parkway, follow the trail which traverses along the edge of the ridge overlooking Coral Canyon until you come to the gravel road to the water tank. Take the rough road down the south side of the hill and follow the bike tracks to the culvert under I15. This is about 0.9 miles.
Passing through the culvert (450 feet long and 10 feet in diameter) continue straight ahead a short distance along the wash past the Church Rocks Trail sign to the southern branch of the Prospector Trail. Turn left and follow this trail up over the ridge to the junction of the Brackens Loop Trail a total distance of about 0.4 miles from the culvert under I15.
From here we followed the Brackens Loop Trail 2.4 miles to the Coachwhip Connector Trail, then down this trail a distance of 0.4 miles to the Spanish Wash. We travelled down the Spanish Wash 1.3 miles to Interstate I15 crossing the Prospector Trail part way along. We then went through the two large culverts under I15 and travelled across the sand dunes to the parking area across from the Texaco station at exit 16 on I15 a further distance of 0.4 miles for a total distance of 6 miles.
Part way around the Brackens Loop you pass near the Church Rocks formation to the east. There are a number of beautiful red rock formations along the route. In the Spanish Wash there is a short section of narrow slot canyon along with several benches which you skirt on the trail.