Kentucky Lucky Chicken Trail
– By Tom Garrison –
“My wife, Deb, and I have hiked more than 230 different trails throughout the southwest in more than 35 years of exploring. Every trail, without exception, had a name that made sense….I’ve never come across a trail with such an odd name as Kentucky Lucky Chicken Trail.”
Location: Webb Hill in the city of St. George.
Difficulty: Moderately strenuous over a very rocky and often uneven trail with almost all the trail gradually going up or down—watch your step.
Trail Length: 3.8 miles loop trail
Average Hiking Time: About 2 to 2 1/2 hours at a leisurely pace with many stops.
Elevation: About 2,740 feet trailhead elevation with an approximately 300 feet elevation change from the lowest to the highest point.
Family Friendly: Watch your step on almost the entire trail—it is rocky and often uneven. It may be a bit strenuous for younger children.
Getting There: From St. George, go to Riverside Drive and turn south onto River Road. About one mile from the Riverside Drive and River Road intersection, turn right (west) onto Fort Pierce Drive. Stay on this road for approximately .2 miles and then turn left (south) onto Bloomington Hills Drive. After .3 miles, turn right (west) back onto Fort Pierce Drive. About 200 yards (or meters if you prefer metric) on this road, turn left (southwest) onto Hillrise Drive. Almost immediately, it becomes a rough, somewhat steep dirt road. Continue on Hillrise Drive for .3 miles until you come to the large trailhead sign on the right and parking areas on both sides of the road. This is the trailhead.
If you park at the trailhead sign, the trail starts near it or across the road, depending if you want to go clockwise or counterclockwise.
My wife, Deb, and I have hiked more than 230 different trails throughout the southwest in more than 35 years of exploring. Every trail, without exception, had a name that made sense. Many, perhaps most, are named for geological features such as arches or canyons (there must be scores of trails with “canyon” in the name throughout the Southwest). Others for animals or plants found in the vicinity of the trail. And there are those named after towns, or Native American names, or names of explorers or local people, or of the views offered from the trail. In all those years of exploring and doing hours of trail research, I’ve never come across a trail with such an odd name as “Kentucky Lucky Chicken Trail.”
Furthermore, we did not see any Kentucky lucky chickens or chickens of any type while on the hike. Nor did we see rock formations in the shape of a chicken. The tendency for humans to perceive a specific, often meaningful, image in a random or ambiguous visual pattern, to see familiar shapes in clouds, rock formations, that sort of thing, is called pareidolia. No chickens on this hike.
After some Internet research, I found an article by Lukas Brinkerhoff, one of the builders of the trail, telling how the trail got its name.
“Well, truth be told, when you are out traipsing through the desert, either looking for a route to put a trail or actually digging the trail, you find random stuff. I found an old KFC bucket. I am a vegetarian, and my find somehow turned into the chicken being lucky—even though it wasn’t so lucky because it had already been killed and eaten. Nonetheless, it stuck, and now we have a trail called Kentucky Lucky Chicken, or KLC for short.”
Okay. But it’s still a strange name.
Our adventure began in late May. We arrived at the trailhead at about 9 AM with the temperature in the high 60s under a somewhat hazy blue sky. We parked at the trailhead sign. The trail starts near it or across the road, depending if you want to go clockwise or counterclockwise. We decided to go clockwise around this 3.8 miles loop trail following the sides of the large Webb Hill. The trail is not well marked, but easy to follow.
The first section is rocky (as is almost all the trail) with a constant, but gradual, incline through a boulder field. Other than the great views in all directions, the main feature of this section is a series of very long switchbacks. We moved slowly and picked our way through and over obstacles. The trail is rocky and often uneven; watch your step.
About 1/2 mile in is a very exposed turn called Lukas’ Leap, and the trail runs along the edge of a cliff. Due to the switchbacks, we came back to these cliffs a couple of times.
Around 1.6 miles along the trail, we reached the top of the hill and the radio and cell phone towers. We were treated to excellent views of St. George, Bloomington, and the Pine Valley Mountains. The contrast between the red rocks, trees, and houses in urban areas, and the distant mountains was compelling. The views alone were worth the hike.
From here, the trail undulates as it descends through several drainages and wraps around the hill to reach the trailhead.
Along the way, we spotted a score or so of lizards (some very large), a few chipmunks, some birds, and one small fox. On the other hand, humans were comparatively rare. We only saw two bikers and one other hiker.
If one can overlook the name of this trail, easy enough, it is a good hike and workout with amazing views.
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