utah canyons header logo

  GUIDING:

  Single Day Adventures
     • Aquatic Tours
     • Big View Tours
     • Slot Canyon Tours

  Backpacker Shuttle Service

   
Primitive Skills Workshop


  Home

  Custom Topo Maps

  Guidebooks

  Utahcanyons Store / Coffee Hole

  Camping

  Canyons

  Hiking

  Roads

  Services

  Weather Forecast

  About Us

  Contact Us

HIKES INFORMATION PAGE  

hiking escalante   hiking escalante    hiking escalante

The Hikes

Listed below are the most popular hikes in the Escalante Canyons. This list is by no means all inclusive. The hiking possibilities out in the canyons are endless, but for the first time visitor or casual hiker these are great primers.

Day Hikes:

Lower Calf Creek Falls - classic half day hike on nice maintained trail with easy access.

If you only had time to do one hike in the Escalante area, this would be the one. A wonderful walk on a self guided nature trail beside a flowing creek in the bottom of a magnificent canyon. The hike culminates at the spectacular 126 foot waterfall and pool. Great swimming hole when it is very hot out (water is a chilly 52 degrees).

Be sure to pick up brochure at the trail head as there are numbered posts along the route which point out interesting features such as rock art, granaries, plants, and historical points of interest. Campground located at the trail head.

Hike Summary

Rating: Easy
Distance: 2.75 miles each way, 5.5 miles round trip.
Topography: Elevation gain of 250 feet from TH to falls.
Access: Paved; located on Hwy. 12.
Water: Water is available at the trail head during warmer months. Carry at least 2 liters per person.
Fee: $2 day use fee.

Getting There

The trail head is located just off Hwy. 12 at the Lower Calf Creek Falls Recreation Area. From Escalante, take Hwy. 12 east 16 miles, the trail head and parking area will be on your left or north.


Upper Calf Creek Falls - great hike from Hwy 12 to the less visited waterfall.

This is one of the premiere day hikes in the Escalante area. Fewer people, great views, and a rewarding destination make this a perfect compliment to the Lower Calf Creek Falls hike.
The trail head is located on top of New Home Bench overlooking Calf Creek Canyon. The first part of the hike involves a steep slickrock descent down to an obvious trail traversing the bench below. The well marked and easy to follow trail leads to the inner gorge and the 96 foot falls. The falls can be heard long before you actually see them. At the edge of the inner gorge, a side trail leads to pools above the falls. The falls and surrounding lush grotto seem out of place in the slickrock desert. The creek can be followed downstream to the top of the lower falls.

Hike Summary

Rating: Moderate
Distance: 1.5 miles each way, 3 miles round trip.
Topography: Elevation loss of 610 feet from TH to falls. Steep.
Access: Good; located just off Hwy. 12. Accessible by car.
Water: Water is available at the falls, carry at least 2 liters per person.
Fee: None.

Getting There

The trail head is located just off Hwy. 12 at an unmarked side road. From Escalante, take Hwy. 12 east 22.4 miles. The unmarked side road is located on your left between mile markers 81 and 82 at approximately 81.4. The short dirt side road leads approximately 200 yards west to a parking area and trail head register


Peek-a-Boo and Spooky Gulches - the famous slot canyons; non-technical and slots of fun!

These are the slots that Escalante is famous for, the best day hike in the Escalante area. If you are not claustrophobic and can fit through a 12 inch wide gap, these non-technical slot canyons provide a day of fun exploration.

From the Dry Fork Trail Head the well marked trail descends through several layers of slickrock and arrives at the Dry Fork Wash, a major drainage for the area. Once in the wash head south or downstream less than 100 yards to the entrance to Peek-a-Boo Gulch. There is a 25 foot climb up into Peek-a-Boo which is easier to descend. Therefore, continue down the Dry Fork Wash another half mile watching for trails which take off to the left. You will encounter a large juniper tree growing right in the wash and the trail to the mouth of Spooky is located just past this tree to the left.

In ascending Spooky Gulch you will encounter several little scrambles up and over minor obstacles. Spooky ends abruptly and you find yourself in a broad sandy wash above the slot. Look left and you will see a trail climbing a 50 foot sand hill and continuing north across the desert to the top of Pee-a-Boo. Descend Peek-a-Boo with the most exciting section being the last 200 yards of the canyon. Descend the 25 foot pour off at the end of the canyon using steps carved into the rock, and you have completed the loop. The Narrows are located upstream from Peek-a-Boo 200 yards and make for another interesting diversion. Head back to the trail head on the same route you came in on.

Hike Summary

Rating: Moderate
Distance: 3.5 mile loop
Topography: Elevation loss of 300 feet from TH to slots.
Access: Hole In The Rock Road, cars OK, but high clearance recommended.
Water: None available, carry at least 2 liters per person.
Fee: None.

Getting There

From Escalante drive east on Hwy. 12 for 5 miles to Hole In The Rock Road. Drive south on Hole In The Rock Road 26.5 miles to the turn-off for Dry Fork Trail Head. There is a sign. Follow the trail head road for 1.7 miles to the trailhead parking area. The trail head road can be rough in spots and requires caution if driving a car.


• Escalante River - up to a full day exploring the river gorge from Escalante to the Hwy 12    bridge.

The Escalante River Gorge from the town of Escalante to the Hwy.12 bridge over the Escalante River is a great canyon to explore for several hours to a couple of days. You can access the canyon from either end, go in as far as you like and double back, or spend a long day going the 15 miles end to end.

The west end of the canyon features a deep meandering sandstone gorge with breath taking canyon walls and a nice open floor. Pine Creek feeds in less than a quarter mile after you enter the canyon and provides a small water flow. Most of the year you can simply hop across the river in the west end. Death Hollow drains in from the north after 6 miles and is a good turn around point for a 12 mile day hike. Death Hollow supplies a substantial flow and stream side vegetation becomes much thicker downstream.

The east side of the canyon beginning at the Hwy 12 Bridge Trail Head contains much more vegetation and water. Death Hollow, 7 miles in, and Sand Creek, 3 miles in, contribute quite a bit of water into the Escalante River. Numerous crossing of ankle to knee deep water are required making this a great summer hike. Just over 2 miles in is the Escalante Natural Bridge and 2.5 miles in is a nice arch, both on the south side of the canyon.

Strong hikers may walk end to end in a day (13+ miles). This does not allow for much exploration time and transportation at both ends would be needed. The end to end hike is also a great overnight backpack.

Hike Summary

Rating: Easy to Moderate
Distance: 3 to 13 miles
Topography: Elevation loss of 150 feet from end to end.
Access: Cemetery Trail Head (west end) Hwy. 12 Bridge Trail Head (east end).
Water: Water flows year round, numerous crossings.
Fee: None.

Getting There

To get to the Cemetery Trail Head from Escalante, drive east on Hwy 12 about 1 mile to the town cemetery (just east of the high school) and turn in. You will see a cattle guard to the right of the cemetery. Follow the road through the cattle guard for about a quarter mile and take the first road to the left (there is a sign indicating the trail head) and follow this road a quarter mile to the trail head and register. From the parking area the trail continues along the road to a cow maze in the fence and beyond a well marked trail into the canyon.

The Hwy 12 Bridge Trail Head is located on Hwy 12 approximately 15 miles east of Escalante.


• Phipps Arch - more challenging route finding to an incredibly beautiful arch and bridge.

Enjoying lunch in the shade of the massive Phipps Arch is the highlight of this challenging day hike. Beginning at the Hwy 12 Bridge Trail Head, follow the Escalante River downstream via a easy to follow trail which runs along its banks. A mile downstream and a couple of crossings later you will encounter the first drainage that comes in from the west on your right, this is Phipps Wash. A well used trail follows Phipps Wash up to the second side drainage that appears on your left or south. Do not enter the side canyon but instead follow a well cairned trail that ascends the eastern side of this drainage. The trail continues to climb up several exposed pitches up and out of the canyon to a bench above. Phipps Arch is located on the top bench. Awareness of your route is key on this part of the hike as there is only one way up and out of the canyon. If you can still climb, you're not there yet.

Retrace your route to get back to the trail head. After visiting the arch on the way back, look for a trail going up the first major drainage that comes in from your left or north. Follow this trail a quarter mile up to Maverick Natural Bridge. Bridges are formed by water undercutting the soft sandstone, while arches generally appear high on canyon walls and are caused by weather erosion. Retrace your steps back into Phipps Wash and back to the trail head.

Hike Summary

Rating: Challenging
Distance: 4 miles each way, 8 miles round trip.
Topography: Elevation gain of 400 feet from TH to Phipps Arch.
Access: Paved; trail head located on Hwy. 12.
Water: Available from the Escalante River and sometimes in Phipps Wash. Carry at least 2 liters per person.
Fee: None.

Getting There

The trail head is located on Hwy 12 at the Hwy 12 Bridge Trail Head. From Escalante, take Hwy. 12 east 15 miles, the trail head and parking area will be on your left, just past the bridge over the Escalante River.


• The Box - explore a wonderful riparian canyon in the high country, great when it's hot out.

This rewarding warm season hike traverses a beautiful canyon up through the Navajo sandstone in the only designated wilderness area in the Escalante River drainage. From the trail head, begin following Pine Creek upstream into The Box canyon. Because of the higher elevation of this canyon, the trail head is located at 6500 feet above sea level, the canyon vegetation is a mix of desert and forest plants and trees. Giant ponderosa pines shade the floor of the canyon and wildflowers linger into the hottest part of the summer. The trail crosses Pine Creek numerous times, so you may get your feet wet. The entire canyon can be done as a day hike from the upper trail head down to the lower trail head, but two vehicles or a shuttle is required.

Hike Summary

Rating: Moderate
Distance: The Box is 8 miles long, but you can make the hike as short or long as you like.
Topography: Elevation gain of 1500 feet from TH to the top of the canyon.
Access: Good gravel road to TH.
Water: Year round water in Pine Creek, carry at least 2 liters per person.
Fee: None

Getting There

The trail head is located on Hell's Backbone Road approximately 8 miles north of Escalante. Hell's Backbone Road is paved for the first 5 miles and then becomes a well maintained gravel road. You will enter the Dixie National Forest after about 7 miles and the sign indicating the Lower Box Access Trail Head will be on your right a mile further up the road.


• Zebra and Tunnel Slots - challenging route to two photogenic slot canyons.

Zebra and Tunnel Slots are short, sweet, and very photogenic little slots, however getting there is most of the fun. Both canyons drain into Harris Wash a couple of miles upstream from the Harris Wash Trail Head. The canyons can be accessed from the Harris Wash Trail Head, but most people hike in from Halfway Hollow on Hole In The Rock Road.

This hike is for more experienced canyon hikers as route finding and map reading are essential skills needed. Lost hikers attempting this hike account for a substantial portion of the local search and rescue work. A map is essential, be prepared.

From Hole In The Rock Road, follow Halfway Hollow down to its confluence with Harris Wash. There are casual trails that cut off most meanders. Once in Harris Wash head upstream or northwest about a quarter mile to the first drainage that comes in from the right or north, this is the Zebra Canyon drainage. The slot is located only a short distance up the drainage. Most of the year the slot contains water up to hip deep. Tunnel Slot is located southeast of Zebra and is the next drainage downstream from Zebra in Harris Wash. Walk up this drainage about a quarter mile to the tunnel. The tunnel is about 70 yards long and almost always has water. Tunnel Slot is a fascinating product of differential erosion and a nice slog through the water in hot weather. To return, retrace your steps upstream in Harris Wash to Halfway Hollow and out to Hole In The Rock Road.

Hike Summary

Rating: Difficult
Distance: The hike into both canyons and back out to Halfway Hollow on Hole In The Rock Road is about 4 to 5 miles total.
Topography: Elevation loss of 250 feet from TH to Zebra.
Access: Good gravel road to TH
Water: None, carry at least 2 liters per person.
Fee: None.

Getting There

The trail head is located on Hole In The Rock Road 8.25 miles south of Hwy 12. The easiest way to locate Halfway Hollow is to count the cattle guards you cross. The first cattle guard is at the start of Hole In The Rock Road at Hwy 12. The second cattle guard is located at Ten Mile Wash and the third cattle guard is Halfway Hollow. Some park right at the third cattle guard and drop down into Halfway Hollow. Another parking area is located another 100 yards down the road and to the right at some old corrals. Hole In The Rock Road is generally in good condition and well maintained to this point and passable by passenger cars.

 

Overnighters:

• Coyote Gulch - The quintessential Escalante canyon. Easy hiking, water availability, and    spectacular scenery make this a "must do" hike. Three days are best to see all this canyon    has to offer.

Coyote Gulch is the quintessential red rock canyon in the Escalante River drainage. This one has it all; spectacular scenery, water, arches, bridges, waterfalls, archaeology, and great camping spots. If you have never backpacked in the Escalante area before, this is the best place to start.

We recommend starting at the Red Well Trail Head for a couple of reasons. First, you get to water quicker, about three miles in, and second, the first part of the hike is much more scenic as compared with going in at the Hurricane Wash Trail Head.

The first four miles of Hurricane Wash is a sandy slog in an open and exposed wash. Also, there are some cool side canyons draining in from the north that are worth exploring when going in from Red Well.

The most amazing section of Coyote Gulch begins at the confluence with Hurricane Wash and continues east past Jacob Hamblin Arch (seven miles in) and Coyote Natural Bridge (nine miles in). The lower four miles of Coyote Gulch passes waterfalls, arches, and archaeological sites perched up on the cliffs. Stevens Arch comes into view a mile from the Escalante River.

The perfect trip down Coyote Gulch is three days and two nights. Hike in to Jacob Hamblin Arch on the first day and camp. There are many great places to camp in the area of Jacob Hamblin Arch. On the second day, leave your gear and day hike down to the Escalante River and back to camp. Hike out on the third day. Be sure to explore some of the side canyons, ledges, and rincons (abandoned river meanders). Watch for wildlife and keep your camera ready!

Hike Summary

Rating: Moderate
Distance: 13 miles from Red Well TH or Hurricane Wash TH to Escalante River.
Topography: Gradual elevation loss of 650 feet from either TH to the Escalante River.
Access: Hole In The Rock Road
Water: Year round water is available in Coyote Gulch about 4 miles in from either TH.
Fee: None, free overnight permit required.

Getting There

Getting to the trail heads for Coyote Gulch from Escalante generally takes about one to two hours depending upon road and weather conditions.
Red Well Trail Head is located 31.5 miles down Hole In The Rock Road from Hwy 12. The actual trail head is on a side road 1.25 miles east of Hole In The Rock Road. The road is generally in good condition and is passable by automobile.

Hurricane Wash Trail Head is located on Hole In The Rock Road 34.7 miles south of Hwy 12.


• Neon Canyon - Spend a couple of days along the Escalante River exploring side canyons.    Neon Canyon and its Golden Cathedral are the main attraction.

Neon Canyon and the Golden Cathedral is one of the most awe inspiring places to be found in the west. Neon Canyon, its brightly colored walls stained with desert varnish, ends at a dramatic pour-off containing two skylights. The hike up the canyon to the pour-off is a breathtaking adventure. But for those with the skill and equipment, the real adventure is in repelling down into upper Neon and repelling down through the rear skylight.

The adventure begins at the Egypt Trail Head, 10 miles east of Hole In The Rock Road. The Egypt Trail Head is located on an escarpment overlooking the Escalante River drainage. The descent to the Escalante River can be steep at times. Access down to the Escalante River is made by descending Fence Canyon. Once at the Escalante River, Neon Canyon is downriver about 1.25 miles draining in from the east. There are great campsites along the Escalante as well as at the mouth of Neon. Neon Canyon is dry. The Golden Cathedral is located about a mile up Neon Canyon.

Neon isn't the only attraction on this section of the Escalante River. Upriver from Neon Canyon about 2.5 miles is the Choprock Canyon System. This terrific drainage comes in from the east and branches several times allowing the adventurous several options for canyoneering fun. The middle fork of Choprock is hikable, while the north and south branches are technical. Michael Kelsey has a great description of Neon and Choprock along with maps in his guidebook Canyon Hiking Guide to the Colorado Plateau

Hike Summary

Rating: Moderate to strenuous
Distance: 4.25 hiking miles from Egypt TH to the mouth of Neon.
Topography: Elevation loss of 1100 feet from Egypt TH to the Escalante River.
Access: Hole In The Rock Road, Egypt Trail Head
Water: Year round water is available in the Escalante River about 3 miles in from the TH.
Fee: Non

Getting There

Getting to the Egypt Trail Head from Escalante generally takes about one and a half to two hours depending upon road and weather conditions.

The turn-off for Egypt is located 17.2 miles down Hole In The Rock Road from Hwy 12. The Egypt Trail Head is located 9.1 miles east of Hole In The Rock Road.

The Egypt Road is quite rough in spots and recommended for high clearance vehicles. There are several wash crossings that may be flooded in wet weather.

Be sure to check out the pour-offs for Egypt 1 and Egypt 2 Slot Canyons along the way. You can't miss them as the road skirts around the top of these pour-offs. They are spectacular.


• Boulder Mail Trail - A cross-country route in the Navajo sandstone traversing three canyons    along the historic route between Escalante and Boulder.

The Boulder Mail Trail is a unique hike in that it doesn't follow a canyon, but instead is an overland route that crosses canyons and vast expanses of exposed sandstone. The trail is the original route between Escalante and Boulder used by mules to carry supplies and the mail.

The most common way to hike the trail is to start at the Boulder Airport Trail Head and end at the Escalante Trail Head just east of town. Because this is a point to point hike, two vehicles or a shuttle is needed to return. The Boulder Airport Trail Head is located at 6800 feet and the Escalante Trail Head is at 5800 feet, so the hike is generally downhill although three major drainages must be crossed. The first drainage heading west is Sand Creek. Sand Creek is about 2.5 miles from the Boulder Airport Trail Head and contains year-round water. The next drainage, about 2 miles further down the trail, is Death Hollow. This canyon is really worth checking out. It is deep, narrow, and has water year-round. There are some great campsites in the bottom of Death Hollow, but beware of the weather. This canyon can flood quickly and dangerously. A mile and a half past Death Hollow is Mamie Creek which contains a nice little natural bridge. Antone Flats occupies the next 4 miles with its beautiful exposed and bleached Navajo Sandstone benches and little ponderosa groves. From the western edge of Antone Flats, you drop off of the monocline (with views of the Town) and down into Pine Creek to the Escalante Trail Head.

The Boulder Mail Trail is fairly well cairned, however, this hike requires a map and compass. The entry and exit points for Death Hollow are very specific. There is no water between the canyons. This is a great hike to do in the late spring or early fall due to its high elevation and cooler temperatures. Great campsites can be found all along the trail.

Hike Summary

Rating: Moderate to strenuous
Distance: 16 miles one way
Topography: Elevation loss of 1000 feet from Boulder Airport TH to the Escalante TH.
Access: Hwy 12, each trail head is less than one mile off of Hwy 12
Water: Year round water is available in the Sand Creek, Death Hollow, and Mamie Creek
Fee: None, free overnight permit required.

Getting There

Getting to the Boulder Airport Head from Escalante generally takes less than one hour depending upon road and weather conditions.

The Escalante Trail Head is located just east of town. Turn into the town cemetery and proceed through the cattle guard to the right. Follow this road for a quarter mile and take the first left. Follow this road for a quarter mile to the trail head. This can be done in an automobile.

To reach the Boulder Airport Trail Head from Escalante take Hwy 12 east 25 miles to the turn off for Hell's Backbone Road. In less than a quarter mile, take the first left back to the west. This will take you to the Boulder Airport runway, cross the runway (watch for planes) and proceed another 100 yards to the trail head.


• Escalante River - Can be done in a day, but take time to explore the side canyons. Excellent    beginning backpack.

The Escalante River flows through a deep, beautiful canyon and this section is the easiest to hike. In addition to the scenery, there are pictographs, granaries, arches, cool side canyons, and more!

This is an easy hike, perfect for the backpacking beginner or for someone that wants a leisurely hike through a spectacular canyon. Campsites can be found throughout the length of the canyon and water is readily available.

Most people hike down canyon from the Escalante Trail Head to the Hwy 12 Bridge Trail Head. Because this is a point to point hike, two vehicles are needed or arrange for a shuttle. Hitchhiking from the bridge back to town is possible, though unpredictable.

Upon entering the canyon from the west, Pine Creek enters from the north supplying a small stream of water into the Escalante River. The first six miles of the canyon are characterized by high, steep walls and an open canyon bottom. Death Hollow drains in from the north six miles in and the character of the canyon changes. The canyon begins to open up and the streamside vegetation increases. Death Hollow is an amazing canyon and worth exploring. Watch out for poison ivy in Death Hollow. Sand Creek drains in from the north after 10 miles an increases the flow in the Escalante River. From Sand Creek, watch for a high arch and Escalante Natural Bridge on the south side of the canyon.

Hike Summary

Rating: Easy
Distance: 15 miles one way
Topography: Elevation loss of 500 feet from Escalante TH to the Hwy 12 Bridge TH.
Access: Hwy 12; Escalante TH is less than a mile off of Hwy 12, the Hwy 12 Bridge TH is on the hwy.
Water: Year round water is available in the Escalante River
Fee: None, free overnight permit required.

Getting There

Getting to the Hwy 12 Bridge Trail Head from Escalante generally takes less than one-half hour depending upon road and weather conditions.

The Escalante Trail Head is located just east of town. Turn into the town cemetery and proceed through the cattle guard to the right. Follow this road for a quarter mile and take the first left. Follow this road for a quarter mile to the trail head. This can be done in an automobile.

To reach the Hwy 12 Bridge Trail Head from Escalante take Hwy 12 east 15 miles to the bridge over the Escalante River. The entrance to the trail head is 100 feet past the bridge on the left.

 

Do you need a shuttle? Personalized maps? Want to explore somewhere else?
Come see us, we can help.
Send us an email or call 435-826-4967.