Book Cliffs Trail


Relax, slip away...
Jan 17, 2012
The kids and I returned to the Book Cliffs on Saturday to finish something we started more than seven years ago. In late 2006 we hiked a small portion of an old pack trail leading up through the Book Cliffs. The trail became too steep and rough for the kids, then ages 3 and 5, and on the way down we had an encounter with an unsavory character which soured the entire trip. Now, both myself and the kids are fitter and stronger and I wasn't expecting to have any difficulties. After some highway driving and a few miles of bumping down a dirt road in the same old Ford pickup, we reached the bottom of the trail and began our hike. The first quarter of the trail is fairly well discernible, albeit somewhat steep and rocky. Along that section we stopped for some rephotography, duplicating photos that I'd taken during our first hike.

Parked at the end of the road and the beginning of the trail

2006-2014 comparison

Our route will take us through the cliffs in the center

Our route

The boys nearing the base of the climb

Starting to climb

A steep but easy section through soft dirt

Boulder and Torrey getting a drink of water

Snack break

2006-2014 comparison

Climbing through a bouldery section

2006-2014 comparison

Steep, bouldery section of trail

2006-2014 comparison

We got to our previous turn-around point where the trail drops through a small saddle of clay soil. The trail briefly ascended the smooth section of clay before becoming completely lost in rocks and boulders. We zig-zagged our way up through the rugged terrain while approaching an impossible-looking cliff band. Even from just below the cliffs they look impenetrable, but once directly at the base of the cliff band one can see a gap caused by a fault that slipped vertically.

Approaching the saddle

Ascending past the saddle

Above the saddle

Even from this close, it's difficult to make out the break in the cliffs

The truck and the road we drove in on

Zig-zagging up another bouldery section

The break in the cliffs

Traversing below a cliff band

Beyond the cliff gap there was one more steep and rocky climb with very little sign of a trail. We slowly climbed until we'd gained enough elevation to traverse sideways again, putting us at the top of the Book Cliffs in a valley that leads to Little Park Wash.

Looking up at the final bouldery scramble before reaching the top

Nearing the top

Done climbing, now just to traverse a slope to a valley to the north

Michael and Bradley at the top of the trail

We rested at the top, had a snack, and explored a little bit. Michael and Bradley felt accomplished in having made it to the top, but neither was willing to continue hiking an extra half-mile to Little Park Wash. We started back down the trail, and what had taken us an hour and a half to ascend took only 35 minutes to descend.

Valley leading to Little Park Wash

View south along the top ridge of the Book Cliffs

Price River cutting across the valley below Woodside

Starting the descent

Descending the trail

Walking back to the truck

During the drive back to the highway I parked the truck and took a short walk over to what appeared to be a collapsed cabin that I'd spotted in Google Earth. Sure enough, there were timbers on the ground and a lot of old trash. Wood, barbed wire, bottles, and even railroad spikes littered the ground. I'd guess it was an old cow or sheep camp that was in use during the 50s or 60s. I took one last glimpse at the Book Cliffs before turning north onto the pavement and heading home. The mountains weren't as beautiful as the last time I'd seen them from this vantage point, but this time I left feeling much more satisfied.

Collapsed cabin

Rusty conduit


Old glass bottle

Book Cliffs

Full photo gallery:

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Alien from over the pond...
Sep 5, 2012
Well done, Dennis.
Love your comparsion pictures.

Gesendet von meinem Nexus 7 II LTE mit Tapatalk 4


Mar 12, 2012
Reread your post from 06, that was nuts. Glad to hear this trip turned out better for you. Nice comparison pictures.


I walk
Jun 25, 2012
Thanks Dennis,

The before and after are great. These guys are hardy. Pretty soon you can offload your pack weight! :cool:

Tater Head

Hoo are you looking at?
Jan 29, 2014
Love the photo comparisons and I like Art's idea of offloading weight even more! Maybe I should have kids after all?? :)
I have a couple I'm willing to give away. If you decide to take them they are yours. SORRY, NO RETURNS...:giggle:
I'm just kidding!!!
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