Angel Point Trail - West


Still right here.
Jan 17, 2012
This was to be an overnight backpacking trip, but my lack of proper planning and understanding turned it into a disappointing day-hike. I had planned to do a backpacking loop into the Dirty Devil River gorge, descending the west side of the Angel Point Trail and visiting several rock art sites along the river and in Robber's Roost Canyon, then climbing out the next day at the Lower Sand Slide. To that end, I left home at 6AM and arrived at the top of the Lower Sand Slide before 9AM. I wanted to get the demoralizing 2.6-mile road-walk out of the way at the beginning of the trip. The dogs and I set out along the road and, while it was still just below freezing, I warmed up fairly quickly from the exertion of carrying a 40+ pound pack.

Leaving the Jeep at the top of the Lower Sand Slide

Henry Mountains

Walking the road

An hour and a half later I was at the Angel Point Trailhead. There are two variations to the west side of the Angel Point Trail: the route listed on the USGS 7.5' topo map that enters the Dirty Devil via Beaver Canyon, or a slightly shorter route that enters the Dirty-D just above the confluence with Beaver. I chose the latter, even though I'd read online about a sketchy drop that may be difficult with a heavy pack (or, perhaps, with two dogs). The descent was really fun, at first following a well-worn foot trail through Summerville Formation soils, then turning into a cairned route across Navajo Sandstone. I hit the ledgy section that must have been the difficult part that I read about. The one sketchy ledge was indeed too difficult for me to descend with my pack on. I took the pack off and set it on top of the ledge, then descended the rest of the ledgy section to scout it out before committing. I returned to my pack and pulled it down over my head, and repeated the same move on another ledge below, then I was almost at the bottom with only a short distance remaining to the Dirty Devil River.

Top of the Angel Point Trail

Long view downstream along the Dirty-D

Upstream Dirty-D

Angel Point Trail at the top of the slickrock section

Torrey and Boulder waiting for permission to descend

Rest stop

Confluence of Beaver Canyon and the Dirty Devil River

Tough section with a big pack

Once at the river my plan was to walk along the bank upstream and visit Angel Cove and several rock art sites on this same side of the river. I hadn't planned to cross the Dirty Devil until I was adjacent to Robbers Roost Canyon. However, after walking only a short distance along the river the trail got pinched out where the river flowed right up against a cliff. It had looked passable in Google Earth, but in reality I'd have to get in the water much sooner than I'd planned. I tried gauging the depth with a trekking pole but it couldn't reach the bottom! That alone really worried me but, in addition, the sand/mud at the edge of the river was very much like quicksand--a few hits with the trekking pole and it went from solid-looking to a liquid.

Dirty Devil River

It was easy yet painful to make the decision to cancel my plan and hike back up the trail. I simply wasn't prepared to swim across the river--I had been hoping for something more like knee- to thigh-deep water. Getting myself across, along with both dogs and my backpack (while keeping it dry) would have been a huge ordeal, and by my estimation I would have needed to cross at least seven more times throughout both days of the trip. I suppose I could have tried finding shallower spots to cross, but I knew I wouldn't have time or energy to do that for each of the eight river crossings. The river had been flowing as low as 95cfs the day before, but peaked at about 113cfs while I was there. Going back up the ledgy spots was relatively easy without having to remove my pack. The road-walk was downright demeaning this time around. Somehow I managed to make the return trip much faster than the trip into the river gorge--it was 3.5 hours in and less than 3 hours back out. This really could have been an easy and enjoyable day-hike if I'd planned it that way. The Angel Point Trail is a scenic, fun route, but for me, at least, only worth the long drive if combined with the good stuff that I missed.

Lower Beaver Canyon

Cairn with roughly-worked chert tool on top

Steep section of the Angel Point Trail

Navajo balls

It's a chopper, baby

Angel Point Trailhead

Long view downstream along the Dirty-D

Almost back to the Jeep

Hike stats

Sunset on Mt. Elliott and the Book Cliffs

Photo Gallery: Angel Point Trail - West
GPS Track and Photo Waypoints:
[ Google Earth KMZ ] [ Gmap4 Satellite ] [ Gmap4 Topo ]

Featured image for home page:

Scott Chandler

Wildness is a necessity- John Muir
Jan 4, 2014
On the bright side, that sure is a pretty hike to go up and down.


Aug 9, 2007
Ohhhhh man.. that sucks! Having to turn back is one thing, but hiking the road there and back. OUCH! Good call though. I'd be way sketched about the quicksand out there by myself. If you think about it, that could easily cost you your life. You could totally get stuck enough that you can't self rescue but with others around it would be fine. Add to that cold temps this time of year and you wouldn't last long chest deep in the river. Remember the NOLS group that got someone stuck in the mud down there a couple years back? They had to call SAR to get them out despite having something like 20(?) people in their group.


Still right here.
Jan 17, 2012
Remember the NOLS group that got someone stuck in the mud down there a couple years back? They had to call SAR to get them out despite having something like 20(?) people in their group.
Whoa. I'd heard something like that, anecdotally, before my trip, but I just looked it up and read a news article about it. Definitely not a situation I'd want to be in alone, though my biggest worry this weekend was getting my gear wet.


Desert Rat-Weekend Warrior
Jun 7, 2012
I've hiked down from there a couple times, followed Steve Allen's guide to get to No Man's Canyon.

During our warm winter last year, I went during February, and crossing was cold. I did find some petroglyphs on a boulder just across the river there, for the future :)
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