Sunday, October 12, 2008

Peekaboo Springs Trail

The Peekaboo Springs Trail is a 5.0 mile route from the Squaw Flat Campground Trailhead east and south to Peekaboo Springs in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park in southeast Utah.

It is part of an extensive network of trails that passes up and down on the carved rocks of this part of Canyonlands, giving long views from up above and passing through the desert environment and sometimes riparian areas down below.

There are three well marked trail junctions along the way. After the trail junction with Lost Canyon, about halfway through the hike, the rest of the way seemed like a high wire act, passing along fairly narrow ledges along the rims of several canyons in a row.

The trail passes through a small arch window in the massive rock at one point. 

There was one spot with about one mile to go that I thought was particularly treacherous. A very narrow and slanted ledge over a very severe drop off was scary enough that I didn't want to go that way again. Looking back at the spot it is hard to see any trail over there, but everyone seems to get past it.

This was a spot that I think needs a bar or something to hold on to. Otherwise, the route was easy to follow but had the typical difficulty that Canyonlands offers.

There are two ladders on the trail, the second one is right at the descent into the Peekaboo Springs area. It is situated in a narrow crack and is about 20 feet high. A thrilling finish to this somewhat dizzying hike.

You want to finish this hike if you can. There is a large pictograph panel at the very end. In addition to the two turtle shell like paintings, that are probably shields, there are some very faded red images in the same place that are much older and quite a few hand prints, not to mention a small arch.

It took me 2:15 hours to cover this 5.0 mile route. I hiked out on the Salt Creek 4WD road, about 2.5 miles back to Cave Springs, the main part of the park, relieved that I can tell the story.

Salt Creek Trail to Peekaboo Springs

The Salt Creek Trail is a 4WD and hiking route along a creek bed that can be accessed near the Cave Springs Trail in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park in southeast Utah. A reasonable 2.5 mile or so hike is between Cave Springs and the rock art pictograph at Peekaboo Springs.

This route has a lot of water in the spring but is reasonably dry in the fall. I hiked in October from Peekaboo Springs back out to the Cave Springs area after starting from the Squaw Flat Campground trailhead and hiking the 5.0 miles to the Peekaboo pictograph panel.

Even in the fall there was some water in the area of Peekaboo Springs. This area is thought to have been inhabited by the farming Ancestral Pueblo people until about 1300 AD. The creek bottom area is very thick with brush and it is hard to stray off the trail.

Along the route there is a 4WD road junction into Horse Canyon leading to Paul Bunyan's Potty and Tower Ruins. Near this junction there are two cave formations on the west side of the route that appeared from a distance to be possible small ruins sites.

There are also several small formations that appear to be arches. In some cases these might just be notches but there are at several definite small arches.

Don't miss the rock art panel at Peekaboo Springs. Besides these turtle shell looking drawings, there are hand prints and a small arch by this ancient art work.

 I took about 2:00 hours to walk this route one way. Most of the way the walking is a little slow due to loose sand.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Roadside Ruin Trail

The Roadside Ruin Trail is a short 0.3 mile loop trail is a small granary ruin in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park in southeast Utah.

The trailhead is just a little past the visitor center and is one of the first attractions a first time visitor would come across. In addition to the small ruin, this is also a botany trail, identifying nine of the common plants in this desert environment.

Visible along the trail are the Pinon Pine and Utah Juniper trees, along with Prickly Pear Cactus, Big Sagebrush and Four-wing saltbush. Two grains mentioned are Indian Ricegrass and Peppergrass.
The ruin is tucked up under a small rock alcove. The interpretive information says that granaries were common in this area but there are few dwellings, indicating that farming was carried on here but the area was occupied only seasonally.
Granaries like this were used as storage for corn, seeds, and nuts. Canyonlands is mostly a geological hiking park, but there is a cultural overlay of ruins and rock art that adds interest to this carved rocky landscape. There is a similar granery near the Paul Bunyan Arch in Horse Canyon.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Indio Arch Trail

Indio Arch is along Utah Scenic Route 211 on the way to the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park in southeast Utah. There is not a sign pointing it out, but it is only 0.7 miles past the Newspaper Rock Historic Site.

To see the arch well you have to pass through some old campsites and find a path down to Indian Creek, step across the creek and climb the bank on the opposite side.

Climbing up the bank out of the creek bed, it looks like there is an old 4WD road under the cliffs. From the old road you can get up under the arch to see blue sky through it. In the fall there isn't much water in the creek, but there could be quite a bit of flow in the spring.

The Indian Creek flows out of the Blue Mountains to the south and creates a lush corridor in an other wise dry area. The cliffs along Indian Creek are popular with climbers and give a taste of the rocky world of Canyonlands.

The road to the old campsites is blocked, probably due to flash floods that occurred a few years ago. There is enough room to pull over and park along the highway. Information on finding this arch and others south of Moab, Utah can be found in the small guide book Natural Arches of the Moab Area (South) by Chris Moore.