Cycling Cedar Canyon -- Ride 16. Miles gaining 4,097’ at 4.6%
PJAMM’s Ron Hawks.
Cedar City, Utah -- home of the Shakespearean Festival, the Utah Summer Games, and Southern Utah University -- is the start of this geologically beautiful climb to the high timbers of Dixie National Forest. Starting at about 5,800', Highway 14 begins with 15 miles of climb up through what is commonly referred to as Cedar Canyon. The first few miles follow Coal Creek as the road meanders through the cedars in the flat lands of the canyon. We pass Milt's Stage Stop at mile 4.4, where you can get one of the best steaks in the area -- you know where you'll be eating tonight! After a few miles you will see a sign warning about falling rock. This is where the 10-11% grades start the heavy lifting of the canyon. You will pass tall vertical cliffs and another branch of the creek (populated by beaver just a few years ago).
After coming out of the steep vertical cliffs at mile 10.5, you are in a small valley that hosts Southern Utah University's mountain campus. This spot is where Dixie National Forest begins. Less than a mile after entering the forest, you will pass Cedar Canyon Campground. On the right side of the road, right across from the campground is a small hill with tan rocks that meet the road. If you look very carefully, you can actually see fossils embedded in the rock, telling us of plant life from the Jurassic period. This is also the beginning of the 'S' turn, a tight cornered stretch of road offering great views of the western edge of Cedar Breaks National Monument. The remaining few miles to the summit will give you very nice views of thousands of acres of the Dixie National Forest wooded wilderness.
On a clear day, from the top of the climb, you’ll be able to make out the spectacular white sandstone cliffs of Zion National Park, some 15-20 miles due south. Cresting the summit at just shy of 10,000', stop and take the Bristlecone Pine trail to see some bristlecone pines. These magnificent trees are some of the longest living life forms on earth at some 5,000 years of age.
Steepest ¼ mile begins at mile 13.6 (8.9%) and steepest mile at 12.9 (7.7%)
Roadway Surface and Traffic Report: The roadway surface is excellent throughout this climb. There is often no shoulder as we climb deeper into the canyons and there is a fair bit of traffic along this very scenic route, particularly on weekends.