Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Alcove Springs Trail

The Alcove Springs Trail is one of the six long trails that descend off of the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park in southeast Utah. The trailhead is 3.6 miles west along the Upheaval Dome Road.

The trailhead information says that it is 5.6 miles to Taylor Canyon and 11 miles to the White Rim Road with 1300 feet of elevation change. The first segment descends steeply, mostly on bare rock with good footing. The area below is named Trail Canyon and there are some of the spectacular views for which Canyonlands is famous, featuring the steep cliffs of Wingate Sandstone.

The large alcove with a spring that the trail is named for comes into view after only about 5 minutes of hiking. The approach to the alcove veers close to the sheer canyon wall and the descent to the alcove is about 440 feet. The alcove appears to be Navajo Sandstone sitting on top of the Kayenta layer.

There is a small pile of rubble in the right end of the alcove that I thought looked like a possible ruins site, but it’s hard to tell. The setting here is similar to the nearby photographer favorite False Kiva. With a source of water here, it seems likely that the early inhabitants would have visited this large alcove.

I stopped at the level of the alcove after 20 minutes of hiking. There are good views toward the canyon bottom where the trail continues toward the left near the dry wash. My total hike of about 1 mile took 0:50 minutes on a 60 F did March day.

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