The Barracks Trail

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5/5 (19 reviews)
Orderville, Utah (Kane County)
Last Updated: 09/05/2020
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Trail Information


Altitude Category Icon Altitude
Camping Category Icon Camping
Desert Category Icon Desert
Sand Category Icon Sand
Scenic Category Icon Scenic
Wash Category Icon Wash
Water Category Icon Water
Southern Utah holds some of the most iconic scenery in the entire state. The red cliffs spotted with deep green juniper trees seem to just roll on forever. Just outside of Zion National Park lies this gem of an offroad trail that gives you incredible viewpoints of such scenery. As you begin this trail, you wind your way through the canyon carved by the East Fork of the Virgin River, crossing it nearly half a dozen times. Many people believe that this is the highlight of the trail. While it is fun, this is only the beginning. After you ascend from the canyon onto the plateau above, you really get to see the sights that The Barracks Trail has to offer. Changing scenery is accompanied by different vantage points to view the southern valley that borders the Coral Pink Sand Dunes, while to the northwest you can get a glimpse of Zion. This 4wd road is not for the faint of heart through, as you have to climb steep sandy hills to complete this 23-mile-long trek. Luckily, this trail is easily accessible off of Highway 89 from both ends and can be enjoyed by all; even if you decide to avoid the hill and turn back the way you came in. If you are passing through on your way to Kanab or just looking for a new trail to explore, make sure this one is on your list!

Trail Difficulty and Assessment

Trail Navigation

This is a very diverse offroad trail in which you encounter many types of terrain throughout its entirety. From the start, it will be a sandy/hard pack dirt road while you cross the East Fork of the Virgin River near two dozen times. Each of the crossings varies in drop height, softness of sand, and water depth. The majority of the year, the crossing will be passible although always measure the depth of the water and check the current before crossing. Much of the trail is shaded so snow may be present at times, and the river does freeze in spots so breaking ice may be necessary in the colder months. After your final water crossing, you are faced with the difficult sand hill. This hill is incredibly steep and has a hill off of your driver's side. **Do not attempt if you do not feel comfortable.** Airing down your tires and maintaining momentum are the only way you will have a chance of making it up this hill. After you have made it to the top, you will continue on a sandy road with occasional sections of solid rock. Once you reach the end of the Parunuweap Canyon Wilderness Study Area at Waypoint 27, the trail becomes a little more hard pack and less difficult. After Waypoint 34, there will be sections of very soft sand, but it will be on level ground or just a slight hill. The upper portion of this trail beyond Waypoint 34 has a completely different feel to it. The dirt turns white, the trees grow larger, and there is likely a breeze present. The higher elevations and shaded spots will likely keep snow longer than the lower parts of the trail. If you do want to run this trail, consider running it in reverse of this guide, as the hardest part you will then be running downhill. Still attempt with extreme caution. In wet conditions, only two spots on the trail will become slick: Waypoint 20 and Waypoint 23. Please remember, this guide was written during low water levels. Higher water will make The Barracks Trail significantly more difficult, if not impossible. Please practice caution when attempting any water crossing. For current river flows, please check out USGS River Flows.

Trail Reviews

5/5 (19)
Rated 5/5
Visited: 08/20/2023

Awesome trail, had tons of fun driving through the curvy sandy bits. Amazing views and good amount of variety in the terrain. Nothing too difficult, except for obstacle 20 (river crossing 19). I got myself very stuck here, if you need to know why, watch Matt’s Off Road Recovery video from Aug 18. 54” tires dug those ruts 🙃. I would recommend at least 14” of clearance to make it through easily if conditions haven’t improved.
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Rated 5/5
Visited: 02/17/2023
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

Awesome trail definitely going to return, be careful in the water crossings if you go off the main trail too much you may get stuck like I did…
Trail Review: The Barracks Trail - Nicholas
Rated 5/5
Visited: 06/13/2022
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

Kick ass trail and needed all our skills in heavy laden Rubicon's with 2.5/3.0 lifts. To avoid the UP Sandhill that many say is impassable during summer, we traveled this trail South to North. However, to be clear even South to North has a number of sandy hills. Much of the trail has narrow , curvy tracks and deep sand. We aired way down and speed is your friend to keep from sinking. Incredible scenery as you wind your way thru a number of small canyons and up and down hills. We are experienced off-roaders and used every skill needed to navigate. One Rubicon had a roof tent and clearing branches added extra challenge. #26 going up was awesome, 21 pitch and longer that it looks. Also not sure where on the trail it was but another shorter steep wall that if you land on the top rock -you can pause and then switch from low to high to continue on in a deep sand hill. Had a ball! And always enjoy a little water crossing!
Trail Review: The Barracks Trail - charles smith
Trail Review: The Barracks Trail - charles smith
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Rated 5/5
Visited: 06/13/2022
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

What a great trail. Took it in my mostly stock FJ Cruiser. Because of the giant sand hill and some of the reviews I'd read, we drove it from the South to the North. This way, the giant hill is all downward. There's still plenty of challenge though and the views are incredible. The waypoints marked "Rocky" (25 and 26) are fairly steep and require a little bit of tire placing judgment. We got stock in the sand at the top of 25 but were able to dig out fairly easily. Everything else was pretty straightforward moderate sand driving. The water crossings (other than maybe the first 1 or 2 Northernmost) were basically dry and even though the trail gets pretty hard to follow at times, you can tell that many people skipped some of the crossings and simply drove up the creek bed. All in all, the views were fantastic and the trail was exciting. I will be making another visit in the future.
Rated 5/5
Visited: 10/14/2021
Difficulty Accuracy: Spot On

Very fun trail and super scenic!!! We did it south to north to keep it simple. Trail can be tight, bumpy and sandy but it is so worth it. Air down, have some good clearance and 4x4, but you won’t need lockers to do this trail. We did it in an ‘01 TJ on 33” tires with 3.5 inch lift and a JL Rubicon 3” lift and 35” tires. No problems.

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