Wednesday, July 29, 2009


This hike follows a creek which is indeed "pleasant" and petroglyph filled. It is within moderately visited Capitol Reef National Park which is between Caineville and Torrey, Utah. The park has many other wonders and hiking opportunities available. The Pleasant Creek hike is easy to find. Just take the Scenic Drive south from the park Visitor Center. Pavement will end at Capitol Gorge. Continue right on the unpaved road for 2 1/4 miles to the parking area at old stables and bathroom. The "trail" is the creek eastbound for 3 1/2 miles each way to the park boundary. So, at certain times of the year expect to get wet crossing it. If you don't get wet, it'll probably be hot as blazes. Go the full seven miles out-and-back, or do an appropriate section, regarding initiative and water on hand. Just look around everywhere for the Indian rock-art. There's lots of it! The vandalism pictured is sad to see. Don't do it please.

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Unbelievably, the "Moab Rim" (3 mi. one-way) trail is designated a mountain bike route. Go ahead if you are insane. It is heart attack or stroke on the uphill. Downhill, it's kamikaze pilot time. It's rated a very difficult bike trail. Wrong, out-of-category is my rating. With so many tremendous mountain biking trails available near Moab, Ut., I say hiking is the way to go on this one. Tell you what-I'll walk and you ride, and I'll likely win the race. Anyway, it's a good trail in conjunction with the "Hidden Valley Trail" (2 mi. one-way). An out-and-back to petroglyphs is an option, or a shuttle with road bikes is an option. I'll explain:
The total trail combination of 5 miles can be done either way. But I recommend starting on the "Moab Rim Trail" uphill, as it is the lesser of the evils on the knees. To start, how does a thousand-feet-a-mile elevation change sound on a bicycle? Just do it. It's only one mile of that grind. Once you are one the top, the terrain is still challenging, but seems like a piece of cake. I guess there is a chair-lift now. Please, this is a hike. We're not in Moab for skiing.
The two main attributes of the combination trail: awesome scenery everywhere and ancient Indian rock art at 4 1/2 miles.
How to access: Get on Kane Creek Blvd. in Moab, at McDonald's restaurant. The "M. Rim" trail is 3 1/2 miles down this road from that point.
When you are done with "Hidden Valley Trail", you will be about 6 1/2 miles of paved road from where you started. The trail ends (or begins) at Angel Rock Rd., near Hwy. 191, south of town. So get your thumb out or have a bicycle at the end of the route. The optional to-the-petroglyphs-and-back option is obviously 9 miles, if preferred.
I would not think that a 2 mile-per-hour pace will be reached on this hike, especially allowing for researching excellent rock art. So plan on this being your "hike for a day".
A good web site:
I cannot do better than them for description.
A decent area map:

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The Upheaval Dome (or) anticline is one of the many pleasures in Canyonlands National Park (fee area), near Moab, Utah. This gem is in the Island in the Sky district of the park. Surrounding the dome is a syncline, the opposite of a dome. One can just drive up to the viewpoint, ho hum. Or a better idea.....
The Syncline Loop Trail (8 mi.) begins near one of the paved access viewpoints. Clockwise is the preferred walking direction for the trail which features geologic cataclysmic beauty. There is an optional trail, 3 1/2 miles from the start of the loop, into the center of the crater (additional 1 1/2 mi. each way). It goes east just about where a trail west goes to the Green River, 3 miles away, and the famous White Rim Trail. Watch for the small, dull-colored indigenous rattlesnakes in the area. They pack a wallop. It's very warm here in the summer, therefor dangerous without proper preparation. The terrain is fairly demanding on this hike, but the trail is well marked. pages/Upheaval.html has good info.
Or just

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The "Slickhorn #6" access to Slickhorn Canyon (Slickhorn empties into the San Juan River) is known as Trail Canyon. The hike from the parking area to the river and back is about 20 miles round-trip, if you are interested. We only did the Trail Canyon hike to some awesome cliff-dwelling ruins, about 2 1/2 miles each way. It's plenty demanding, so five miles was good. At the very beginning of the descent into Trail Canyon, about a half mile from the parking area, there is a nice cliff-dwelling.
Surprisingly, the most difficult time of all was getting back to the car after coming back out of the canyon. As the parking area is on a relatively flat mesa, that was puzzling. The many arroyos are disorienting, I guess. Leave cairns maybe when you head for the fairly obvious canyon access.
Another puzzling point in the hike occurs at about 1 1/2 miles into the trip. As you skirt a huge pour-off (go left), you look at what appears to be a dead-end, unless rappelling is your flavor. The trail actually proceeds over a sandstone knob left, which just doesn't look correct. As you get over this knob, the onward rim walk is now obvious. The rest is elementary, as a good track eventually descends back down into Trail Canyon and to some most excellent ruins on the right about a mile from the pour-off rim. On the way back, time allowing (if memory serves), there is another set of ruins at the huge pour-off. You should be able to spot them across from the sandstone knob, on a shelf at the northwest arm of the pour-off across from you. I believe I have seen these referred to as "Big Shelf Ruins". They are accessible from the top if you want to walk around to there and do the work.
This is the usual potentially dangerous desert environment. Be safe, not sorry, as the area gets few visitors. You are unlikely to be saved from misfortune here.The claim is that there are springs, but I wouldn't trust in that.
To access Trail Canyon: Turn west across from Cigarette Springs Rd. (which goes east) off of Hwy 261, just north of mile-post 19 (paved 261 is the main Grand Gulch access). Traveling west on dirt now, encounter a gate at 1/2 mile, leaving it closed or open, as it was. At 2.6 miles, bear left (south) at a junction. This is where Government Trail goes the other way (right). Now you will be staying on the most prominent road available southbound. High-clearance is recommended. At about 7 miles from the pavement, the road veers generally southwest for about a mile to a visible corral (a right turn to parking there). The navigable pour-off of Trail Canyon, a half mile west, should be visible to the west from the corral parking area.
The closest towns will be Mexican Hat and Bluff, Utah.

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"JOHN'S CANYON RIM (Duckheads)"

We white men, of course, have no actual clue what the Ancients' art works mean. These petroglyphs, unique to the San Juan River drainage area, sure look like ducks in place of heads to me. This neat (flat) canyon rim walking area is south of Grand Gulch Primitive Area. Turn off of Rt. 261, the main north to south road in the area, onto Goosenecks State Park Road (Rt. 316). I recommend high-clearance vehicles, as the road gets rougher later. In about 1/2 mile bear right as the park entrance is to the left. Do stop at the State Park sometime. The meanders are awesome. Continue on the dirt road, bearing right at 2 1/2 miles, and entering Glen Canyon National Recreation Area at 4 1/2 miles. Continuing on the most main road, go through a gate at about 6 1/2 miles. If there is no gate, you made a wrong turn somewhere. You will pass a few rock art sights from this point on to John's Canyon at about 14 miles. This is where I parked (for bicycle riding), but I guess a vehicle can be driven with care for another 3 1/2 miles to a "Wilderness Area" sign. From here on it's (southwestward on the rim) on foot only for as far as you can take it, the highlight being numerous petroglyphs. It gets plenty warm here, so pour-offs at the John's Canyon crossing are a welcome relief. There is an up-canyon trail with additional archaeological sights, but I haven't done it. They say it's about 3 miles up John's and then back. I can't say for sure how far the "duck head" trail of petroglyphs is, because we used to be able to ride bicycles here, and only had to worry about time and not mileage. I think there is abundant rock art for at least 3 miles into the Wilderness Area. Eventually, the petroglyphs peter out, but don't wear yourself out. See what you are comfortable with and head back WHEN THE DRINKING WATER IS HALF GONE. Bluff and Mexican Hat, Utah are the closest towns, both very small.

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Monday, July 27, 2009


Natural Bridges National Monument (fee area) is one of those nice parks that you can see in one day. I recommend the loop experience, which is the longest available hike. It is about an eight mile trek on not too difficult terrain. Besides seeing all three natural bridges, you will see ancient Puebloan ruins and rock art if eyes are kept open. The most famous ruin, Horsecollar, is near Sipapu Bridge (which is the second largest natural bridge in the world). No more clues on that. After visiting the ruin sites and bridges, the end of the loop traverses mesa top for a couple of miles to your vehicle.
Park access is from Rt. 95, about 40 miles west of Blanding, Utah.
Natural Bridges is one of the oldest National Parks (1908).

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Friday, July 24, 2009


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Keet Seel (located in Tsegi Canyon) is in the Navajo National Monument (fee area). In my opinion it is the greatest single village cliff dwelling ruin, better than anything in Mesa Verde National Park. The work needed to get there makes it better. It's a long hike of 17 miles out-and-back. A Ranger will take you into the ruin site. All worth it! Horses are available for trips to Keet Seel.
The trip to the ruin site and back can be done as a day-hike if a person is aerobically fit. Elevation changes are not very demanding. It is just a long slog through unremarkable arroyos and sagebrush. The ruins are stunning to come upon, no matter how many pictures one has seen. The monotony of the hike increases the awe.
The National Monument is surrounded by Navajo land, with Kayenta being the nearest town of significant size. I have a small moral problem with the white man securing this property in the middle of the Navajo Reservation. However, I'm glad it happened that way so that we can see this magnificent specimen.
As a bonus, water is available at Keet Seel to refill supplies. Less to carry!
This trail is open only Memorial Day through Labor Day, with a daily visitor limit enforced by permit.
Access to the National Monument is from Rt. 160 west of Kayenta, Arizona.

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Thursday, July 23, 2009


This hike starts in the Grand Staircase-Escalante Nat'l Monument and enters
the Glen Canyon Nat'l Recreation Area.
The "Golden Cathedral" is aptly named. The triple arch (actually bridges=water erosion formed) which has formed in the ceiling of Neon Canyon certainly inspires reflection. And fun to get to! From the trail head, cross the thematically named "Egypt" desert area. I don't have a phone, a TV, or G.P.S, but look in a E-N-E direction from the trail head. The canyon heading in that direction is Fence Canyon. After scrambling down the initial sand and slab terrain, Fence will be the access to the Escalante River. From the Egypt trail head to the Escalante River is about 2 1/2 miles. The trail is not well cairned until about the 2 mile mark. However, the route finding is not difficult on the north side of Fence Canyon after descending the initial sandstone "steps".
After about 1 to 1 1/2 hours, you will get into the Escalante River (maybe waist deep in the narrow channel) and head downstream or right. I use a walking stick to search for deep pools or "suck" holes. You want to be upright. Soon the depth of the river diminishes to ankle deep as it widens. You will be in and out of the river on a fairly well-defined trail.
The first small canyon on the left is Neon Canyon (about 1 mile after entering the river). It is usually muddy, mainly from lack of sunshine, but not watery.
At the end of canyon hiking access (about 1/2 mi.) is a swell treat. Further progress after the "Cathedral" is for technical canyoneers.
Back the way you came, the trip up the "Egypt" sand dunes and slickrock is a little tough, but this trip is worth all of the trouble. Plan on hiking time around five hours with sightseeing, out-and-back.
Don't wear your good penny-loafers on this hike. You are getting wet for sure.
To get to the trail head: Take Hole-in-in-the-Rock Rd., which heads south from paved Rt. 12 just east of Escalante town, Utah. At 16 1/2 miles from the pavement, turn east or left on Egypt Road for 10 miles. If the road is passable, go for it. The trail begins at the Egypt Trailhead and sign-in sheet. Do not take the right turn at 9 miles (which is a claustrophobic slot hike if you like) or the left at 9 1/2 miles. I recommend a high clearance vehicle.
This is a well balanced hike with desert, river, and narrow side canyon. It is not appropriate for me during spring runoff. I don't swim.
Steve Allen describes the hike pretty well in his guide "Canyoneering 3". Neon Canyon is a section of a multi-day hike in the book. also has good info, as usual.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009


The 8 mile out-and-back (about 4 1/2 hrs. with sightseeing) hike to the Rogers Canyon cliff dwellings (circa 1300), left by the Salado Indians, is well worth the effort. The building style is much different than what the Pueblo ancestors used in the Great Basin Desert north of here. This is an excellent, preserved upper and lower ruin site. Please take only pictures. Located in the surreal Superstition Wilderness east of Phoenix, it is a difficult trail to access, requiring a high clearance vehicle. I love the Sonoran Desert but please be on alert. The area is loaded with rattlesnakes. They are as scared of you as you are of them. They just want to be left alone. Another thing about the Sonoran: The soil is very abrasive for tires and shoes. Much of Arizona feels like glass pebbles. There is a good book for referencing the trail: "Hiker's Guide to the Superstition Wilderness", by Jack Carlson and Elizabeth Stewart. I used Hike #46. #47 is a longer hike option with easier vehicle access.
Superior, Az. is the closest town to the trail. Vehicle access is from Rt. 60 which runs east from Apache Junction, a Phoenix suburb, to Superior. At Queen Creek Rd. (about mile marker 215, Rt. 60) turn north for 1 1/2 miles to Hewitt Station Rd. (FS Rd. 357, but they change the number all the time). Go right on Hewitt Station 3 miles to FS172. Go left 10 miles on 172 to FS 172A. Go right 4 miles on 172A (4 WD) to Rogers Trough Trailhead. If you can't make it on 172A with your vehicle, stay on 172 to the Woodbury Trailhead, and a longer hike to the ruins.
From the Rogers Trough trail head, take Reavis Ranch Trail #109 for about 1 1/2 miles. At the junction with Rogers Canyon Trail #110, go left (#109 goes right). Easy enough, and it's a pretty canyon for 2 1/2 more miles to the ruin site.

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Monday, July 13, 2009


Horseshoe Canyon is a satellite district of Canyonlands National Park. We should be thankful for that, as the protection for this amazing rock art is necessary. The "Great Gallery" pictograph panel is one of the most stunning displays of ancient art (estimated to be dated to about the time of Christ) in North America. Life size figures painted on the sandstone with natural mixtures have somehow survived.
The portraits seem to be of powerful persons and are still awe-inspiring. The hike, once you drop off of the rim at the parking lot, is soft and sandy. For this reason it requires endurance. The four miles or so to the main attraction seems like forever, but you will forget about that when you see what the "Ancient Ones" left for us.
Access is from Lower San Rafael Rd. (unimproved) via the town of Green River, Ut. or Rt. 24 north of Hanksville. Hanksville is the closer town to the canyon.The trail is 8 miles out-and-back.
Another amazing rock art site in the general area is at Sego Canyon near Thompson, Utah and The Bookcliffs formation. Access to the art is much easier than at Horseshoe Canyon.

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Thursday, July 9, 2009


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The Salt Creek hike is in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park in Utah. The other two sections of the park are The Maze and Island in the Sky, astounding places also. Day 1 got us to Camp #1 (IMPORTANT: You Must Have a Permit from NPS to Camp Here) from the Cathedral Butte trail head. Kirk's cabin by our camp was pretty neat. Day 2 had us seeing the famous "All American Man" pictograph, as well as "Big Ruin", and the "Four Faces" pictographs. Geologic wonders include Wedding Ring Arch. You will also see squash plants that have been producing since ancient Puebloan times. We turned around at "Four Faces", made our way back to camp, and were back to the trail head on Day 3 by noon. Tough climb out! So that was a nice 3 day trip, about my old butt's limit. Four days is recommended for the entire trail (one way!), but I think we saw the best of things and didn't need a shuttle.
So the mileages: Day 1, about 4 1/2 miles to camp. That's plenty with a backpack full of stuff on a steep downhill grade. The trail is pretty straightforward. Just don't take Bright Angel Trail by mistake, on the left about 1 1/2 miles downhill from the start. Day 2, about 10 miles total, out and back, camp to Four Faces. Although this is a long day, do it to it. Day 3, those 4 1/2 miles to the vehicle seem to be vertical.
When I went on this hike the site I used is
It was very satisfactory for description of the hike.
REMEMBERMEMBERMEMBER 1 GALLON OF WATER PER DAY PER PERSON. Salt Creek may have availability if you have the purification system.
Now, let's see if I can get you to the trail. Take the Beef Basin Road (about 8 miles west of Newspaper Rock) left off of RT. 211 before entering the Needles District. 14 miles on Beef Basin gets you to the trail head on the right. Monticello, Ut. is the closest town to the trail head.

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