Suggestions for backpacking loop trip in S.W. Utah
Apr 6, 2023 at 6:18 pm #3778247
Hello. I’m planning a trip to southwest Utah in May, in the Zion NP, Bryce Canyon, NP, Grand Staircase-Escalante NM area. I’d like to do a 2 to 4 day trip, very preferably a loop, somewhere in that general area. It doesn’t have to be in any of the national parks. I’d appreciate any suggestions. Many thanks!Apr 6, 2023 at 8:58 pm #3778267
Are you talking backpacking? You did not say…. Car trips can be loops too…
And are you thinking down inside the canyons? Canyon hikes are often hard to arrange into loops… helps if you have two cars and/or are willing to close the loop with a mountain bike. Or close it by having an outfitter/guide service drop you at the start and hike back to your car. Permits will be harder to get for Zion and Bryce areas. There are outfitters in the town of Escalante that do this for a fee… and likely have lots of experience with this as well as suggestions for routes. I bet a Google search would connect you with some…Apr 6, 2023 at 9:58 pm #3778273
My favorite is the Boulder Mail trail out of Escalante. A nice loop starts at the Escalante River TH just out of Escalante town, follows the Boulder Mail trail, dropping down into Death Hollow, follows that downstream to the Escalante River, then back up the Escalante River back to the TH. Amazing scenery, lots of slickrock hiking.Apr 6, 2023 at 10:30 pm #3778274
But when in May??? Early to mid May could have a lot of flow in the rivers/streams due to snow melt up highApr 7, 2023 at 11:24 am #3778293
Thanks for the suggestions. Yes, I meant a loop backpacking trip. There’s the Chinle Trail in the southwest corner of Zion NP which could be done as an “open jaw” (not a complete loop) involving a short shuttle from the end of the trail to the trailhead. I’ll check online to see if there’s an outfitter in the area that could do that.Apr 7, 2023 at 11:57 am #3778295
Thanks, Kimberly. I checked it out on the All Trails web site. Looks like a great hike. Do you think it’s fairly safe to do solo? I’m 67 y.o., in pretty good shape and have done a lot of backpacking, much of it solo. But I’m getting more conservative and safety conscious in my senior years! Looking at the photos, there seems to be a fair amount of in creek/river hiking. I’m thinking of going mid to late May. Any opinion on what the water levels might be like then?Apr 7, 2023 at 12:01 pm #3778296
Hi again. I’m thinking mid May through the end of the month. I’d like to avoid the extreme heat of summer, but I’m aware that creeks and rivers could be swollen then. I haven’t checked out the snowpack reports for those areas yet.Apr 7, 2023 at 1:21 pm #3778314
Short if connecting with someone who completed the route just before your start, the best way the I know of to get information on conditions is to call or stop in to the Escalante Grand Staircase Visitor / Ranger Center in Escalante.
Mid to late may you could potentially have both high temperatures AND cold swift water… It can start getting hot by mid May and I assume they have a big snowpack on the mountain above all this… If you don’t have experience with hiking wet narrow canyons and the conditions are not good, you might look for something else…Apr 7, 2023 at 8:09 pm #3778371
Could also call the local outfitters in Escalante…Apr 10, 2023 at 9:38 pm #3778607
I would consider doing this solo–it’s certainly not crowded, but there are enough people doing this route, that you could expect someone to come along if you did have an injury. High water could be an issue with the snowpack this year. You could try the GSENM visitor’s center in Escalante for information on how the water levels are running when it gets closer to your departure date.
It can be pretty hot by mid-May in the overland sections, but probably pretty comfortable once you are down in Death Hollow.Apr 11, 2023 at 7:38 pm #3778669
Thanks again, Kimberly. I guess I’ll just have to play it by ear and see what the runoff situation is like when I want to do the hike. I think if the water level (at the deepest) in Death Hollow is no more than calf deep, it would be ok, but advice I’ve gotten says that you’re basically walking mostly in the water, and if the water’s cold, which it most certainly will be, it can get pretty uncomfortable. Does that sound right to you?Apr 11, 2023 at 9:53 pm #3778679
When I go to the canyons (soon)… I go with several options in mind… and see what looks best when I get there… ya just can’t plan everything out there… roll with the conditions… there will be something fun to do..Apr 12, 2023 at 7:33 am #3778699Monte MastersonBPL Member
@septimiusLocale: Southern Indiana
I highly recommend Pine Valley Mountain Wilderness. It’s just northwest of St George. Some the highest mountains in that part of Utah. Only 50,000 acres but there are a network of very good trails throughout and you could make at least a 2 day and 2 night trip out of it. One of the best kept secrets in the Southwest. Awesome scenery. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pine_Valley_Mountain_WildernessApr 12, 2023 at 12:07 pm #3778735
Thanks. I’ll keep my options open. I’ll be camping at Red Cliffs campground in the Pine Valley Mtns., so I’ll check out the wilderness for hiking options.Apr 12, 2023 at 8:44 pm #3778772obx hikerBPL Member
Another possible idea in that area dependent on getting permits and the snow pack melting would be to take the Bill Hall trail off the North Rim at Monument Point to Surprise Valley and over to either Tapeats Creek or Deer Creek then go back through Surprise Valley to the other; then back up and out. Deer Creek should have 2 really nice waterfalls and also some ancient Puebloan rock art and granaries and you can check out the river runners who always stop at Deer Creek/Falls to get water. On the other side is Thunder River ( giant waterfall) which will be epic with this years snow melt almost 200% of average. You’ll pass through about 4 or 5 vegetation zones from the rim to the river. The climb/drop over the Red Wall has well laid out switchbacks and isn’t that bad speaking as a 71 year old. The scenery is just flat out awesome. The question would be whether NF-425 is in good shape out to Crazy Jug Pt. Kaibab National Forest for info. That and can you get permits from the Grand Canyon NP for campsites at Tapeats and Deer Creek.
Boulder Mail Trail is a good one!
Oh yeah and Bill Hall is AZ but you have to access through SW Utah.Apr 13, 2023 at 8:01 pm #3778869
Many thanks, obx. That sounds like a great one. I’m somewhat limited on time, but I’ll see how my other visits to the Utah national parks go. Maybe I’ll have time for that hike. If not, I’ll keep it in mind for a future trip.Apr 13, 2023 at 10:19 pm #3778875
In lower Death Hollow you are in and out of the water. A mile or two before the confluence is a large pool that can take a little maneuvering to get around without taking a dip. But a gorgeous spot. I have been down through there in late April and didn’t find the water too uncomfortably cold. Depending on how the snow melt goes it might be reasonably comfortable in May.Apr 13, 2023 at 10:51 pm #3778885Apr 14, 2023 at 9:09 pm #3778946
Thanks for the photo. Looks beautiful. I really want to do this hike. Hope the conditions are favorable!Apr 15, 2023 at 9:40 pm #3779014
I hope it works out for you– it’s one of my absolute favorite hikes.
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