Backcountry trekking in Utah

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of February 7-14, 1996
Cycle touring in the Loire Valley of France
Baja sailing and kayaking
Summer day hikes in Yellowstone
Hiking the Ozarks of Arkansas
Backcountry trekking in Utah
Spring weather in southern New Mexico

Backcountry trekking in Utah
Q: I will be visiting Colorado and Utah, and I'm looking for a good four-day backcountry trail near Moab, either in a national park or preferably on state land. Any suggestions?
David Buckland
Northville, MI
[email protected]

A: If you don't mind spending a couple of hours in the car, we recommend a strenuous 66-mile hike along the Escalante River in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, about 220 miles southwest of Moab.

Starting at Harris Wash, you'll hike into the Escalante Gorge--through isolated slot canyons, secret arches, and hanging waterfalls. Five miles before the trail's end at Lake Powell, you'll scramble over house-size boulders in the Narrows and then head 13 miles up Coyote Gulch to the Hurricane Wash trailhead on Hole-in-the-Rock Road. Be aware that the closer you get to Lake Powell, the more difficult it is to find a safe walking route, so it's a good idea to keep a sharp lookout for hidden quicksand. Pitch your tent anywhere along the river, as long as you're above the high-water mark--in case of flash flooding.

To find the trailhead, drive five miles east of Escalante on Utah 12 and then take Hole-in-the-Rock Road south for 11 miles until you see signs for the BLM road to Harris Wash. Spot a second car at Hurricane Wash trailhead, 33 miles south on Hole-in-the-Rock Road. On your way out of town, pick up a free wilderness permit from the Interagency Office (801-826-5499), a mile west of Escalante, on Utah 12. The office also sells Trails Illustrated's Canyons of the Escalante ($9) and Wasatch Publisher's Hiking the Escalante ($7.50). Be sure to check out "The Best Hike in Every State" in the Destinations section of our April 1996 issue, available online and on newsstands in mid-March.

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