50+ mile backpacking loop in Escalante?


New Member
Mar 18, 2017
A free week unexpectedly appeared and my brother and I are planning a last-minute backpacking trip in southern Utah starting in one week (March 23). We are experienced backpackers, but have no experience in Utah or in any similar terrain. Ideally, we would like a 50-75 mile loop that we would plan to cover in 5 days.

Because of the last minute nature of the trip, backcountry sites are mostly booked in Zion and Canyonlands. Canyonlands has some backcountry sites available and we could probably manage to string some trip together there. Zion has almost nothing available. Currently, we are narrowing in on Escalante as tehe destination since it doesn't require any advance reservations. Two questions:

1) Would Escalante be the best choice in our situation?

2) Can anyone recommend a hike in Escalante or elsewhere that would meet our needs?



Aug 9, 2007
Escalante is a bad choice for your situation. To put down big miles in that terrain you need more experience with it. And it's not a place that is about the miles anyway. There aren't many actual trails. It's a whole different type of travel.


Hiker Trash
Jan 4, 2015
Ditto what Nick said. There are dozens of fantastic 50+ mile hikes that one could put together in S Utah, but every one of them would require planning far in excess of what you have time for - and the experience backpacking in a desert/canyon environment. My frank advice would be to abandon the idea of one long journey, and instead do a couple short ones. Coyote Gulch is a great intro to S Utah backpacking, as is the Kane-Bullet canyon loop in Grand Gulch. Throw in a quick saunter up to Calf Creek Falls or a dayhike to the Confluence in the Needles of Canyonlands,, and you've got yourself a killer vacation.


Mar 15, 2016
Needles may be out of sites, but the normally have at large camping available in some areas.

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In search of Fresh
Oct 17, 2012
I know I sent you over to this site for some ideas from the Trip Advisor forum.. I figured you'd get a lot of suggestions from this experienced crew of Utah hikers. Nick usually has a few brilliant trips you could do, as do many of the others.
Buckskin Gulch to the Paria River and down to Lee's Ferry could be possible if the Paria isn't flowing too big. Less than a month back, it was flowing big enuf for kayaks to float down it. Just.... a little too much water to comfortably walk down in. You'd need to set up a shuttle.
If you wanted to just set up a camp south of Kodachrome State park, there are a ton of cool hikes you can do off the Cottonwood road.
Hope a few more folks chime in for you.

John Morrow

May 22, 2015
In the area powderglut mentions is one easy route finding loop: Upper Paria/Hackberry Loop. Not really established trails but stays in canyons. Close to 50 with a few side trips for rock art and slots. Haven't done it yet but it is on the list. In general Larry Boy's suggestion is a good one. Stuff in the 25 mile range is available in several of the National Parks and plentiful in the Escalante River side canyons.
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