The Whipple Trail in the Pine Valley Recreation Area is located in the Dixie National Forest near St. George, Utah. It offers beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and valleys as you ascend up several switchbacks to a peaceful meadow. It's a great option for a summer hike, as it's usually about twenty degrees cooler here than in St. George or Cedar City. You can find the trailhead for the Whipple Trail at the end of Forest Road 336, where another trail branches to the right. Parking is free and easy, and you can find campsites and bathrooms nearby at the Pine Valley Reservoir.
The Pine Mountains were formed by volcanic activity and their origin is the reason for their unique appearance. The rich red, yellow, and orange colors of the exposed mountain rock reflect a mix of igneous rock and sandstone. You'll start your hike among Ponderosa pine, while subalpine fir and Engelmann spruce cling to the rocky slopes further up. The tall trees provide shade for much of this forested hike. Small waterfalls burble into little pools along mountain streams. Golden wildflowers abound in spring and changing aspen leaves yield yellow tints to the landscape in the fall.
As you near the end of this out-and-back trail, you'll find yourself in an alpine meadow with a creek. At the right time of the year, it will be carpeted with wildflowers. Jutting boulders around the meadow's perimeter give the bucolic scene a unique look. This hidden valley is uniquely peaceful and relaxing, though you won't necessarily find solitude here. You'll probably spot other people camping and hiking with their dogs. The Whipple Trail is favored by human-canine hiking teams and is a great place for your pup to make some new friends.
You can complete this hike in a day if you start in the morning, but you might want to bring your camping gear so you can linger in this special place a little longer. If there's anything more spectacular than the daytime scenery here, it's the sight of the Milky Way coursing through a field of stars at night.