On Wednesday we ventured down the Hole in the Rock Road for 26 miles to canyoneer in several exciting slot canyons. This environment was a dramatic change from the tall Ponderosa Pines of the Box Canyon in Dixie NF where we hiked on Tuesday. The road is a washboarded bone rattling dirt track but fun to drive none the less and provides dramatic views of the Straights Cliffs section of the Fifty Mile Bench and Fifty Mile Mountains. Once at the trailhead we tackled the three slot canyons which can be accessed from the Dry Fork Gulch below the trailhead. We hiked Dry Fork first as an out and back as the slot became impassable due to water. We then made a loop by climbing up through the Peek-a-Boo slot and then traversed across to Spooky Gulch and then down climbed Spooky slot exiting into Coyote Gulch and returning to the trailhead from there. As you can see from the photographs below the slots provide some challenging terrain with the tight spaces and chimney descents but make for great fun and excitement.
This afternoon we hiked up the Lower Calf Creek trail under a beautiful blue sky, following the canyon floor. At the end of the canyon we were delighted by the cool mists of the 126 foot falls that feeds the perennial creek. As a result of the creek providing water year round, the canyon is lush with vegetation. Pictured directly below is the creek from above, and below that the falls from the trail.
Lower Calf Creek
Lower Calf Creek Falls
Lower Calf Creek Falls Hiking Map
On Saturday we climbed to the Rim Overlook which provides great views to the east, west and south as well as the park directly below the rim. After a break at the rim we ventured further down the Navajo Knobs trail and then ventured up a side canyon before turning back and retracing our route back to the trailhead.
Hickman Bridge is a natural bridge (not arch – bridge caused by water erosion) that sits at an elevation of apx 5700 ft above sea level. A short hike of 2.2 miles albeit the trip out is all climb to reach the bridge. The bridge is 133 feet across and 125 feet above the ground. A nice bridge to visit because you can travel under the bridge as well as climb above for a view from the top of the bridge.
Strenuous hiking today with several miles of moderate to steep climbing but well worth the effort with tremendous views. We first climbed to Cassidy Arch and then continued the hike to the highpoint of apx. 6400 ft on the Frying Pan Trail.
Cassidy Hiking Map
Sunday’s weather provided a beautiful backdrop for our drive and hike within the Waterpocket Fold District within CRNP. Our drive began with a thirty mile trek down the sandy and occassionally muddy Notom Road which provided spectacular views of the Reef and the Henry Mountains. We turned east at the junction with the Burr Trail to drive the incredible switchbacks to the top of the Reef. We then left the Burr Trail to journey up the 4WD track to the Strike Valley Overlook trailhead. After hiking up to see the impressive view of the full length of the valley we hiked back down and then hiked the Upper Muley Twist Canyon stopping at the Saddle Arch before returning to the jeep and back down the wash to the Burr Trail. The Burr Trail becomes paved after several miles and winds its way through numerous canyons ending at Rte 12 in Boulder. Boulder is an impossibly small town 40 miles from any other town but fortunately is the improbable home to a highly rated Zagat restaurant – Hell’s Backbone Grill. We had a great dinner and bottle of wine before heading north over the 9600 ft elevation of Deer Mountain within Dixie National Forest. A great way to celebrate Stephen’s birthday with a beautiful day and a wonderful dinner.
Stike Valley-Waterpocket Fold
Strike Valley and Burr Trail
Upper Muley Twist and Saddle Arch
Upper Muley Twist Hiking Map
Today we hiked the Cohab Canyon to the North Overlook and a portion of the Frying Pan Trail. After a challenging initial climb consisting of 22 switchbacks and a 20% grade over a quarter of a mile we explored the canyon which included multiple slot spurs and a further climb to the North Overlook. We then made another climb up Frying Pan Trail which is completely on the Kayenta Formation. From there we retraced our steps back to the trailhead.
CohabCyn Hiking Map
Today we hiked the Capitol Gorge Trail from the trailhead to the boundary of the park. Beautiful day with temperatures in the high fifties – perfect for hiking. After the hike we drove to Pleasant Creek on a 4wd track.
Capitol Gorge Hiking Map
With rain in East Glacier and our need to head to Kalispel for our last night we opted to hike in West Glacier on the west slope of the Continental Divide where the weather was forecast to be dry and a good ten degrees warmer than East Glacier. We chose the Flathead Ranger Trail to give us a close up pespective of the Flathead River.
The weather was as projected and we had good last hike through burned forest area that provided a full 360 panoramic view of all the surrounding mountains including the Teakettle Mountains. The hike also provided a birdseye view of the confluence of the two forks of the Flathead River. Also, a great birding area and we saw many bluebirds along the trail above the river.
The Flathead Ranger trail is less well know so we had the trail to ourselves for the entirety of the eight mile roundtrip.
A nice finish to our week of hiking.