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Thread: Travel along the Hole in the Rock Trail in southeast Utah

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    Travel along the Hole in the Rock Trail in southeast Utah

    The Hole in the Rock Trail is often confused with the Hole in the Rock Road, the 56 mile maintained dirt road leaving Scenic Highway 12 at Escalante, Utah and follows the first portion of this same trail blazed by some 250 Mormon men,women, and child settlers headed to Montezuma Creek, Utah in 1879 to the nowimpassable Hole in the Rock road cut above Lake Powell. Almost anything withtires can make the drive from Escalante to the actual Hole in the Rock above Lake Powell.

    The Hole in the Rock Trail, the much more rugged part of the emigrants’ journey that began after they had chained their wheels and skidded their wagons down the mile long Hole in the Rock dugway. This duway had required 6 weeks of hard labor and ingenious engineering before they were ferried all across what was then a languid Colorado River at winter’s ebb.

    I came down from northern Utah, and used the Lake Powell ferry at Bullfrog to get across to Hall’s Crossing. UDOT began daily ferry operation this year on May 16th. I last gassed up in Hanksville, but had 10 more gallons on the roof basket. If you are running low, you can gas up at the Hall’s Crossing marina or at the CalBlack airport a few miles to the east.

    The Hole in the Rock Trail exits UtahHwy 276 at 37°25'15.19"N, 110°30'20.03"W and is easy to find thanks to a metal “Hole in the Rock” sign. This first of three parts to the trail is fast and easy along maintained dirt roads. It doesn't take long to get to the Lake Canyon Connector, a spur that connects the old portion of the trail in Lake Canyon to the newer portion. It is in a wash and easy to find where an old halftrack army truck has been abandoned.

    At 11.6 miles from the trailhead, a right hand is marked with another sign.This sign was bent up and fallen to the ground. It looked like someone had intentionally run over it. The scenery is awesome everywhere, but starts to really get nice this point onward. This part of the trail is not maintained, and it becomes bumpy and rough in spots. Near the start of this second segment is a fairly steep descent over a 10 inch ledge. You will also find slickrock sections. It is a wavy trail as it weaves around trees and up and over slickrock domes.

    The first real obstacle of the trail is Twister, a large section of slickrockjust before the end of this section. You descend down a slickrock flume and overa ledge as your turn right. The slickrock provides good traction even if it is raining, which it did most of the time we were on the trail. Our Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk does not have much flex, which results in frequent wheel stands. This had the effect of terrifying the wife.
    J


    After the Twister, you come upon a junction which takes you to the backside of Lake Canyon. In the middle of Lake Canyon, the original pioneer trail was washed out in 2009 and is no longer passable. You can go back and visit it by the right fork here.

    But take the left fork to continue to Lake Powell. It continues to be very bumpy and progress is slow. It can get tiring after awhile of constant slow, bumpy progress. There are a few spots for good camping but thereis little shade.

    The most challenging section follows as you enter an obvious wash. A wooden sign states that you are at Grey Mesa. The trail climbs the slickrock up to Grey Mesa via a chiseled, dynamited dugway that is often off-camber, narrow, and close to the edge of a cliff. The section can be scary. The dugway starts at about 23.1 miles from the trailhead.

    One of the best campsites on the trail is midway through the dugway. It is shielded on three sides so it is protected from the wind, though there is little shade. It is large enough for many vehicles and tents, and it is flat.

    The top of Grey Mesa is mostly flat with a sandy road where you can move relatively quickly at what seems like freeway speeds after having progressed so slowly up to this point. The views of the Great Bend are gorgeous, and this is a great place to stop for a meal.

    Once you get down off the mesa you get to the top of The Chutes with a climb back up at the bottom. The Chutes are steep and you should choose your line wisely and trust your spotter.

    The landscape is gorgeous at this point, even as it has been all along. The trail ends before Lake Powell. There is a foot trail of about 2.1 milesdown to Lake Powell.










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