KANE COUNTY — With all the recent news about road ownership and motorized access in the Grand Staircase/Escalante National Monument, one of the best ways to visit is often overlooked: exploring on foot. The Staircase offers many opportunities for getting far away from the hustle and bustle of the everyday world with options varying from huge views from high ridge lines to deep and narrow canyons that barely reveal the sky.
Here is a list of five backpacking routes to enjoy in the fall weather. Spring and fall are the recommended seasons for these hikes — summer can simply be too hot and dangerous flash floods are a real hazard on every one of these routes.
All require a free and easy-to-get overnight permit — check with any of the many Monument visitor centers for details. — These routes will be achievable to most aspiring desert backpackers, and while none qualify as “easy”, they all can be done by those who aren’t experienced long-distance hikers. None of the listed hikes require “technical” travel, navigation is reasonably straightforward and most importantly in this desert region, water is frequently available and reasonably accessible.
- Coyote Gulch Perhaps the best known of the five, Coyote Gulch has everything one would hope for in a desert canyon — there’s Jacob Hamblin Arch and Coyote Bridge. There’s wildlife and a spring-fed stream complete with small waterfalls and fluted channels, there are archeological sites and something new around every bend of this deep meandering sandstone canyon.
Photo Credit: Mike Coronella
This popular destination is most often accessed via the Hurricane Wash Trailhead about 33 miles down the Hole-in-the-Rock Road from Utah Highway 12. Plan to spend a couple of nights or more as you hike 13 miles to the Escalante River and back for a 26-mile roundtrip. backpacking,backpacking,backpacking