Arches National Park
Route We had plenty of time to spend in Arches NP to align with our permits for the next section so took a longer indirect more scenic route in parts than the Hayduke. We walked from Moab Canyonlands Airport, across H191 to Tower Arch, then NE across Salt Valley to the Devils Garden, back SW across salt Valley following the pipeline to the Hayduke and Courthouse Wash.
Willow Springs 03/27/22- Good pools before and small flow around the junction with Willow Springs.
Upper Courthouse Wash 03/27/22- Good flow down to Sevenmile Canyon then dry to near the road. We had a fair bit of bushwhacking after Sevenmile but may not have found the best route.
This year we followed the Hayduke route down Upper Courthouse Wash as opposed to 2014 where we took an another route described by Nic Barth ‘Arches Slickrock Alternate’ (green on the map). This slickrock line was way more enjoyable and scenic in my opinion – but did involve some Class 4 downclimbing down into the canyon.
Lower Courthouse Wash 03/27/22- Pretty mellow hiking but with more beaver activity this time than we saw in 2014.
Moab to Needles
Route We followed the Hayduke but with a few alternates as described.
HT30.2 We did the Amasa Back alternative which was nice and recommended. We started at Kane Creek, where there was a trail from the Trailhead to a bridge over the creek a few hundred meters up from the Colorado River (the Colorado river backs up into Kane Creek making it awkward and muddy to cross). There is a steep scramble down from the high point into Jackson Hole on an old trail, but other than that it is trail or jeep roads with good views.
Stopped at Base Camp and chatted to Tom who kindly let us fill up with water as well as admiring the tortoise!
There were 2 river access points to the Colorado River for water south of Base Camp after HT4.5, see below.
HT6.8 This is Chicken Corner and hard to miss, see pic! We took a direct alt (purple line below) south up a mellow wash with a couple of 2-3m high scrambling steps to short cut the HT (red below) which is an indirect jeep road. Worthwhile- its shorter and more interesting than the jeep road I think.
HT11.3 We left the HT just south of the pass at HT11.3 for a grand alternative down Hermit Canyon based on the Kelsey Canyonlands guidebook. We then followed a lovely limestone bench above the Colorado River narrowing to a meter or so in places.
There likely was access to the Colorado River for water from the bench, both at the bottom of Hermit and at the first canyon south of Hermit, but we didn’t check either out so can’t confirm that.
There is also the cool Tangren old horse camp on the way (please leave everything in place). We couldn’t find the spring to the east of Tangren as described in Kelsey though, …. I have doubts that it still exists.
We continued on the bench along the rim to Lockhart Canyon. Here we thought we could cross Lockhart and continue south to connect with the Hayduke at Rustler Canyon. There was a small cairn at the rim of Lockhart looking like we could drop down into the canyon. However we didn’t fancy it, the top looked too loose and rubbly for us!
Instead we followed the rim of Lockhart east easily on the same bench. Continuing along the rim of the north fork back to the Hayduke at HT20.9 and the foot of the Nic Barth Lockhart Cliff descent and a big pour off (black line below). This Hermit alternate taking you above the Colorado River is scenic and varied. Contact me if you want more info.
HT20.9 There was a small clear flow of water coming down a slabby gully within the first half mile south of HT20.9 but I suspect this would be short lived after the rain we had about 4 days before so I wouldn’t rely on it.
HT25.4 Lockhart had a good flow for about 1/3 mile
HT32.3 Rustler dryfall. there was a small pool just above the dryfall but Rustler was dry below. The direct route under the chockstone was fun!
HT35.1 Indian Creek. Pools of water in this stretch but no flow.
HT39.3 ‘We hope so’ wash. About 1/4 mile south of HT39.3 there is a large pothole of water just under a small dryfall (as mentioned by Jamal Green in Across Utah). We took a side route out to the Colorado River neck lookout. Nice view and a short diversion starting from 200-300m before the pothole in ‘We hope so’ wash. Would be a nice camp spot too…
Needles to Hanksville
Route We took a northerly alternate from the Hayduke over the Colorado River at Spanish Bottom, through the Maze, Hans Flat and Happy Canyons to join the Hayduke at Poison Springs.
In 2014 we took another alternate and what both have in common is that from Needles in Canyonlands National Park, we end up at the Colorado River at a place called Spanish Bottom. From the north bank of the river we climb up again over remote plateau and end up in the well named Happy Canyon and then cross the even more appropriately named Dirty Devil river. Credits for our 2022 route go to Jamal Green who describes it on his excellent Across Utah website.
Needles visitor centre to Colorado River – We saw no water on the trail from Big Springs down Cyclone Canyon then Lower Red Lake. We took water from the Colorado.
Maze – Standard descent from west of Chimney rock to Pictograph canyon – small pothole on scramble descent and small potholes at canyon bottom about where marked by Kelsey as a spring.
Maze- Wash north of the Harvest Scene, on the west side of the canyon junction -small seep flow
Maze – Foot of the Maze Overlook trail – Good water in pools with a small flow.
North Trail Canyon – Small pothole just before steep zig zag exit. We didn’t notice any water between Maze Overlook and here.
Hans Flat Ranger Station- Sells gallon jugs and open between 8 and 4.30.
North French Springs Fork – Medium pothole of water in wash above steep constructed trail descent. Well used by feral donkeys though and we didn’t take.
North French Springs Fork- Constructed trail descends steep section round a nose to the boulder filled wash at bottom and then continues criss crossing wash to easier ground after boulder section. Makes for a relatively easy passage.
North French Springs Fork- Slickrock pothole area down wash mentioned by Jamal Green was dry.
Happy Canyon- Small seep 1 mile below French Springs Fork junction. Good pools and seeps 3 miles below. We also saw these in April 2014. Happy Canyon narrows had some small potholes which may be better than the muddy water in the Dirty Devil…
Poison Spring Canyon- Good flow about 1 mile below and 2 miles above the spring.
Route We hiked from H95 past Little Egypt then joined the Hayduke before Crescent Creek. We then took an alternate dirt road south over Copper Ridge to Airplane Spring. Due to Brian’s blisters(!) we then turned about and hiked back to H95 but this time following the Hayduke from Crescent Creek to H95.
Little Egypt – This is an alternative route south of the Hayduke Trail from H95 as described by Nic Barth. The hoodoos and mining cabins were interesting and worthwhile as an alt.
Crescent Creek– Good flowing water as the jeep track nears the creek bed. Nice camping on the west side of the river too.
Airplane Spring on a lower alternate on the south slopes of the Henry Mountains had reasonable water in two wells inside the fenced off area.
Escalante to Kanab
Route The route we took between Escalante town and Highway 89 was really enjoyable and recommended with a particularly great sequence of canyons in the middle in the area of the Paria River. We pretty much joined up 3 alternatives described by Jamal Green along with some information from Michael Kelsey’s guide;
firstly Via Escalante West
then a short hike down the Paria River before going up Kitchen and Starlight Canyons. Jamal Kitchen/Starlight text here and Kelsey’s Paria River Guidebook had useful information on upper Starlight, the cave and Mollies Nipple.
Alvey Wash- 04/25/22 About 5.5 miles south of Escalante town on Smokey Mountain dirt road- there was water running here where the wash narrows.
Mossy Dell- 04/25/22 This is about 19 miles from Escalante town and mentioned as a water source by Jamal but we couldn’t find any water here unfortunately.
Collet Canyon forks- 04/25/22 The jeep road crosses a few forks of upper Collet Canyon but all were dry for us. It looks like they might flow for a bit following rain.
Headquarters Springs- 04/26/22 A number of small flows of water here. We couldn’t find the cabin marked on the map though…
Corral south of Grosvener Arch- 04/26/22 Two good full tanks of water here, see map below.
Round Valley Draw, HT Section 8 mile 2.9- Our second time down these narrows and this is an excellent scramble.
Hackberry Canyon, HT Section 8 mile 11.2- 04/27/22 Water started from about here. Bear in mind its a tough walk down canyon from the narrows of RVD to this point in deep soft sand. Also this area was fouled by cattle making the water a little less inviting!
Hogeye Creek- 04/28/22 Excellent water flow in two shady sections in the middle of Hogeye down to maybe half a mile before the Paria River.
Paria River- 04/28/22 This was flowing quite clear between Hogeye and Kitchen.
Kitchen Canyon- 04/28/22 Very, very muddy flow. The canyon is so rubbly and loose that it looks like it the water flow is full of mud and silt from the side walls sliding into the wash.
Starlight Canyon- 04/29/22 Lovely flow of good water up the length of this canyon to where we exited at the cave.
1/2 mile to north of Kitchen Corral Spring (HT 43.4) – 04/30/22 Good small flow 1/4 mile east of Hayduke Trail dirt road along side canyon on jeep road. Go over barbed wire to small spring that is piped off so the canyon looks dry before you get to the spring.
H89 Buckskin to Jacob Lake
Route We followed the Hayduke in this section for the first time(!) with the exception of the enforced fire reroute on the AZT below…
Water- we relied on a single wildlife guzzler source on the AZT about 4 miles south of the Utah-Arizona state border, which seems reliable. That said there was a fair bit of activity at the state border with a few northbound AZT hikers finishing each day in May so there could be a fair chance of picking up water from people here to meet AZT hikers.
AZT diversion- there was a rerouting of the AZT north of Jacob Lake due to burn areas impacting the trail. See sign below…
Whilst on the AZT, the AZT water report provides good hiker updated water reports.
Jacob Lake to Grand Canyon South Rim
Route We mostly followed the Hayduke in this section apart from at the end where we hiked out of the Grand Canyon to the south rim on the Grand View Trail. This shortened the route a bit and we had already hiked the remainder part along the Tonto Trail and up South Kiabab Trail in 2014.
South from Jacob Lake the Hayduke follows the well maintained and relatively popular Arizona Trail (AZT) for about 30 miles. AZT water report
Its dry from leaving the AZT til hitting Nankoweap Canyon about 8 miles down from the North Rim on Nankoweap Trail. This trail is really scenic and makes for a superb hike. Nankoweap Canyon looks like a perennial stream with a gushing spring source just 10 or 20m downstream from where the trail hits the stream.
Once you hit the Colorado River there are a number of places to access the river for water. You can’t do this anywhere though so best keeping an eye on the map. The Nankoweap Granaries are definitely worth the side trip.
The route along the Colorado River between Nankoweap and the north of the Little Colorado can be pretty slow going over boulders with bushwhacking so allow plenty of time and best to start early if its going to be hot. We have managed to get lifts across the river to the Little Colorado outlet pretty easily within a few hours both times we have been there.
Hance Creek had a good, if small, flow of water.
Overall, from Jacob Lake to South Rim is a brilliant hiking expedition. We were there in May and at that time a challenge is the heat down in the bottom of the canyon.
Grand Canyon South Rim to North Rim
Route We followed the Bright Angel and North Kiabab trails. These are popular and make for easy hiking for anyone who has hiked the Hayduke or variants to here. We camped at Cottonwood but I guess could have made it the whole way rim to rim if we weren’t able to get a permit.
The temperature was in the low 40C range at Phantom Ranch and to avoid that we had a really early start from South Rim then spent a while cooling down at Ribbon Falls (a must see anyway).
North Rim to Kanab Creek
Section 13 miles 27.9-37.4 I think the section down Saddle Canyon to Upper Tapeats Campground is one of the toughest sections of the Hayduke, although with some great scrambling and scenery. We were here mid May and it took us about 10 hours but that included about 1-2 hours time wasted scrabbling about at a wrong exit from Saddle Canyon.
The initial descent down Saddle Canyon (28.6-30.2) was cross country with some scrub in the dry bed of the creek but wasn’t too hard at all. Maybe with more people on the Hayduke it is gradually getting easier.
We missed the correct exit from the dry canyon bed at 30.2 to traverse around the dryfall and headed uphill too early. There are a few smaller dryfalls you get to first which have cairns on the left side but you need to go down past these to more cairns before the bigger dryfall. The route from there back into Saddle Canyon involves traversing on the left, west side onto a ridge then descending its west side to a small side wash and back into Saddle Canyon. It was pretty slow going, scratchy bushwhacking but had some cairns and signs of traffic.
Once you are back into Saddle Canyon at mile 31.0 the character changes straight away to scrambling and hiking inside the slickrock canyon. There were a few drop offs where we were happy to have a team to assist each other and lower packs- it would be trickier solo. The cord to lower packs was definitely useful. We didn’t really get too wet in the slickrock potholes, maybe knee deep. A superb canyon.
The scrambling ends at 32.6 with the Stina Canyon junction. From memory there were two small potholes at 33.1, the junction with Crazy Jug Canyon. The next few miles were very hot down a rubbly dry streambed and slow going. The going gets nicer about 1/2 mile before Tapeats Spring though with cottonwoods, shade, pools and running water.
Once we met Tapeats Spring the river changed character to a raging and loud cataract! There is a trail which helps a lot, starting on the south side and crossing the river at reasonable places with some scrambling along the way. We maybe had knee deep water (but very fast flowing) after a dry spell, any more might have made progress difficult. The area is really dramatic and scenic and a stand out of the Hayduke if you have low enough water levels!
Hildale to Zion
Our route deviated from the Hayduke to cross Canaan Mountain from Hildale to Rockville.
This is a marvelous hike has a real Hayduke flavor to it with a mix of trails, cross country, route finding and superb scenery. Its downside is that it misses out the ‘Barracks’ on the Hayduke which is also top class (we were there in 2014).
We did this hike in the opposite direction in Autumn 2018.
The site ‘Favorite Hikes in and around Zion National Park‘ gave us the original idea and the associated book is worthwhile purchasing too.
Water is available in the well named Water Canyon, then there are some big potholes in the slickrock wash at the top of Water Canyon. Sawmill Spring had water about 10 minutes downstream from the spring itself and there was some seeps and pools in the slickrock below that.