Access to Escalante River/Lake Powell near Cathedral in the Desert


Apr 21, 2017
I may be back in Utah in a month or two and was hoping to hike to Reflection Canyon. While I was down that way, I thought it would be nice to see Cathedral in the Desert. I've read on here about hiking in, but I don't know how I would get below the waterfall by anyway other than floating in. My thought was that I could hike from Hole in the Rock Rd to a point northeast of CITD (37.311619, -110.898380) and then packraft down to and then up Clear Creek. It's hard to tell from Google Earth and even topo maps if this would work -- specifically getting into the Escalante/Lake Powell with my packraft and then exiting later on to return the same way that I came. Any thoughts?
You won't be able to climb down at those coords you posted. The only good access in that area, aside from going down a canyon, is the old Black Trail. It uses a narrow ledge on a fin. It's pretty narrow and sketchy in one spot so may not be suitable for everyone. This is where it's at: 37.311441, -110.905423

That said, I get that you seem to be going for the most popular locations in the area, but is it really worth it? The Reflection Canyon hike is an absolute joke, in my opinion. There are so many better destinations in that area that you could hike to in a much shorter distance. And you can look off a canyon rim into Lake Powell from a million other places that are closer. Maybe that one over-photographed little twist and tower is worth the walk for some folks, but I am completely dumbfounded by it.

Cathedral is cool, but it's not that cool when you weigh the effort to get there the way you describe vs. that time and effort being spent doing something way better like a packraft loop through a couple of the canyons in that area. Not trying to be a downer on your plan, hike your own hike, ya know. Just felt like adding my .02 on that as someone who's been through that area in quite a bit of detail.
Another access you could use is the Jackass Trail: 37.265767, -110.869989. Not as close as the other for Cathedral, but maybe good for a point-to-point without having to paddle the extra distance to Hole-in-the-Rock.
Go directly into the Cathedral from the top... . Then out via the lake. Only one 85 free rap, everything else is scramble and lower packs. Then rap into the lake itself
Thanks for the access suggestion, @Nick . I will probably pass on that, as I will have limited time (as it seems I always have when I'm out there) and don't want to get to that fin and decide that I'm too chicken to do it. I admit that the hike to Reflection Canyon doesn't excite me, but camping there does -- plus, I'm intrigued to see it at lower water levels; I think that the fins should be visible this year. I would be happy to learn of better options in the area though. I had thought about Willow or Davis Gulch, but I will have limited time, and will be by myself so I won't have two cars (and drivers) at my disposal.

@Bob, thanks for the suggestion, but I've only gone rappelling a few times in my life, and definitely wouldn't feel comfortable attempting that by myself.