Big Spring-Elephant Canyon dayhike. With free bonus vacation pix!

SteveR

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Joined
Sep 22, 2016
Messages
706
Our two week long October trip to southern Utah was a bit too brief, but we had a great time and- other than one afternoon downpour- perfect weather.
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We based out of several great camping spots.
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Checked out some prime real estate.
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Viewed artwork both man made...
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...and natural.
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Scrambled a colorful canyon.
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Took in some big vistas.
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Dropped into a gulch.
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Saw things from a different point of view.
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Hung out under overhangs.
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Travelled back in time.
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And enjoyed many warm nights around the campfire.
One hike will stand out as the most memorable, though- the loop taking in Big Springs and Elephant canyons at Needles. We had been to Needles 3 times previously over the course of 20 years of almost yearly desert trips, doing most all of the trails in that time, but somehow not this particular loop. Follow along:
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Heading up Big Spring with views all around.
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Things get interesting climbing out of Big Spring.
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A look back.
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And ahead, at the pass between Big Spring and what is now apparently to be known as "Woodenshoe Canyon". We had done the short loop heading back out that canyon on our first visit to Needles way back in 2003.
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Looking to the route ahead, with one of the only two other hikers that we would meet until hitting the Chesler Park trail later on, barely visible down below.
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Descent route under grand cliffs after lunch.
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The first of the 3 passes along the route, on the right skyline.
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Interesting hiking, now on new ground for us after going right instead of left at the last junction.
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The first of 3 ladders is a notched log.
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Cairns lead the way.
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Ledgewalking towards the next pass, at left.
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Looking back.
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It was sweltering HOT for these Canadians in the curving basin of reflecting white rock!
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The second pass of the day.
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And another ladder (plus some moki steps) down the other side into a branch of Elephant Canyon.
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At "Ladder Pass", we had expectations that the ongoing route might continue above the drainage on the white sandstone benches, but after too short a stretch of that, it dropped down and undulated in and out of the wash.
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Back on familiar territory for a little while on the Chesler Park trail, which we have hiked several times.
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And then, another trail that was new to us. Why a picture of this sign? Well- there's a long story to be told of our friend Jim, who made this very mistake after forgetting about driving from the campground to the Elephant Hill trailhead, and instead returning directly to the campground. Doh!
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Peekaboo!
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Playing around with the camera, while snacking on the shaded side of the little arch.
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The trail winds around several side drainages...
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...before climbing to pass #3 of the hike.
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From there it was an easy walk on extensive ledges back towards closing the loop.
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Views all around.
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Homeward bound after a perfect day!
 
Last edited:

Jackson

I ❤️ GYE
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May 31, 2015
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3,026
I love those walks on the sandstone above the canyons in the Needles. Such a fantastic area!
 

Ugly

Life really is better Here
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Apr 20, 2013
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So succinct with great photos all along the way.
Very well-done @SteveR
I know that I need to go to the Needles when it is not midwinter. Some of those trails are impossible when there is ice. This may help nudge me that direction...
Really glad you shared this. I would think you had an excellent fall. Larches and Peaks, desert, then back to snow and skiing already... Nice.
 

RyanP

Formerly bob32
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Mar 1, 2015
Messages
454
Hands down one of my very favorite areas. Thanks for sharing!
 

Titans

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Aug 18, 2018
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Great photos Steve - that connector trail loop is awesome!

Love the campsite view, wow! Sorry we missed you, didn’t realize it was a such short trip. Next year! Thanks for sharing.
 

canadug

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Nov 26, 2015
Messages
99
Fab Photos! Missing the slickrock and blue skies of Utah right now especially with Wintry weather setting in up here in Vancouver, Canada.
 

SteveR

Member
Joined
Sep 22, 2016
Messages
706
Great photos Steve - that connector trail loop is awesome!

Love the campsite view, wow! Sorry we missed you, didn’t realize it was a such short trip. Next year! Thanks for sharing.
Yes, way too short! Typically we leave in late September-early October, when there is usually a noticeable shift towards colder weather in Alberta. Summer lingered until mid-October this year, and we stuck around for so long that our window of time (we had to be back home by late October) was short already. Then a winter storm moving into Alberta and Montana saw us dropping our final 3 days, to flee home and avoid a long slow drive in challenging conditions. Which was mostly successful, until the system caught us for the final 3 hours home after crossing the Canadian border. Looking forward to next year already!
 

Reef&Ruins

Colorado Plateau is calling...
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Feb 3, 2017
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910
I recognize a lot of those spots. Glad you had a great trip.
 

SteveR

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Joined
Sep 22, 2016
Messages
706
Fab Photos! Missing the slickrock and blue skies of Utah right now especially with Wintry weather setting in up here in Vancouver, Canada.
I grew up (supposedly:D) in Powell River, so I know all about how dreary the next few months can be on the coast. After 40 years in Alberta, there's no way I could trade the sunny (but cold!) skies here, for that.
 

Reef&Ruins

Colorado Plateau is calling...
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Feb 3, 2017
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I grew up (supposedly:D) in Powell River, so I know all about how dreary the next few months can be on the coast. After 40 years in Alberta, there's no way I could trade the sunny (but cold!) skies here, for that.
I went to UBC Vancouver for grad school and I will second that...
 

Reef&Ruins

Colorado Plateau is calling...
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Grad school can be dreary enough without the added "benefit" of dreary weather. Having said that, I loved summers in the Lower Mainland.
 

SteveR

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Sep 22, 2016
Messages
706
The backcountry skiing and Ice Climbing are pretty terrific in BC so I can suffer through a bit of rain in Vancouver.

Grad school can be dreary enough without the added "benefit" of dreary weather. Having said that, I loved summers in the Lower Mainland.
Day 5 of the new ski year for me, on very nice start to our backcountry ski season yesterday in Alberta, with sun too! Just sayin...
But I agree about the long summers on the lower mainland, by April I often pine for the ocean and earlier arrival of spring there.
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John Morrow

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May 22, 2015
Messages
975
The "prime real estate" site is unique to me. Completely above ground, no excavation, rectangular kiva with a T-door. I don't think I have seen similar anywhere else yet.
 
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