Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Trough Springs Trail in Canyon Rims

The Trough Springs Trail is a 2.5 mile historic cattle trail in Canyon Rims Recreation Area, a large mesa top area to the east of Canyonlands National Park in southeast Utah. 

The Hatch Point District of Canyon Rims is about 32 miles south of Moab along Highway 191 in southeast Utah. The marked entry road is north of the Route 211 entry road to the Needles District of Canyonlands.

The trail head is at the end of a short dirt road in the north end of the Canyon Rims area, near the Anticline Overlook Trail. There are many dirt road opportunities and short overlook point trails for hiking in Canyon Rims but this appears to be the only actual hiking trail.

The trail descends 1100 feet to a junction with Kane Creek Canyon. The terrain here is scattered Pinon Pine and Utah Juniper trees, Single Leaf Ash, Black Brush, Cactus, and Mormon Tea along dry rocky washes. The trail is well marked with rock cairns.

The La Sal Mountains are visible to the east. The trail dates from the early 1900s and was used to move stock from the canyon rim to the Kane Creek Canyon below.

As the trail descends the massive Navajo and Wingate sandstone cliffs common in the region appear. The first segment of trail is a gradual descent with wide views.

After about 0:40 minutes and 1.3 miles the trail becomes more dramatic as it descends steeply into the Trough Springs Canyon. The route passes below the steep Wingate Sandstone and enters the rugged Chinle layer.

The trial crosses around the head of the canyon and descends mostly on the west side. This segment is similar to the trails in the Island of the Sky District of Canyonlands as you have to watch for the cairns and step carefully.  

It took me 0:40 minutes to descend along this steep segment, 1:20 hours total to arrive at the canyon floor. There was water flowing at the bottom and a thick growth of Cottonwoods and Willows.

Except for a few vague spots the walking toward Kane Creek Canyon was easy along a route that seemed like a cow trail. Since there was water here I kept an eye out for ruins sites and petroglyphs but didn't notice anything. The flowing water seems to be reabsorbed into the creek bed. I didn't see any flow toward the junction with Kane Creek.

didn't try to cross the wide eroded wash at the end of the trail. The 4WD trail along Kane Creek is visible here on the other side, and I saw two vehicles pass by. It took me about 2:00 hours to arrive at this junction.

My return hike took 2:25 hours for a total hike of 4:35 hours for 5 miles. The steep segment took me 1:00 hour to climb after taking 0:40 minutes to descend. I carried and drank 3 liters of water on a 65 F degree late October day.