Buckskin Gulch - Middle Trail to the Paria


Jan 19, 2012
This is Part 2. Part 1 can be found here.

Day 3 (2nd day in the Buckskin):
We got up and ate breakfast and then started the hike back down to the Buckskin. I was already dreading the slog back up that miserable sandy hill to camp... But soon forgot about that as we dropped back into the gulch. The scramble down the steep section into the bottom was a little harder going down then up, but we managed just fine.

The gulch quickly narrows again and gets very interesting!





The walls got taller and taller as we descended down the canyon!

Once in a while you'd come to little opens where there would be green trees and vegetation. The green would pop against the red rock background!




I was really surprised at how narrow the Buckskin got in these lower depths of the canyon. Almost as narrow as Wire Pass in a few spots! I loved every bit of it!







I had read about rattlesnakes in the gulch and had even been watching for them, but 3 of us (including myself) walked right past this guy only inches away from him. The last guy spotted him and we came back to check him out. I read they were tiny, but I didn't expect him to be that small! Coiled up he is smaller than diameter of a pop can and just bigger than a silver dollar.


His tail was wiggling as he moved away but you couldn't hear anything as he didn't have enough rattles on his tail to rattle.



Cool hole in the sand stone way up high!




After hiking a few hours we made it to the famous "Rock Jam" of the Buckskin. We had packed a rope in case there wasn't one when we got there and there wasn't, there was 3. 2 were going down the "rabbits hole" and 1 in the spot where you have to go in the rabbits hole is plugged. Two of the guys went down the standard route and myself and another took the rabbits hole. It ended up being really easy.

Climbing down the standard route.

Climbing down the rabbit's hole

55 gallon barrel lodged between a rock and a hard place.

Coming out the other side

Right after the Rock Jam, we found the backpackers who we'd seen the day before resting. They told us they tried the Middle Trail Exit and found it too difficult/exposed. Instead they climbed up to the flat area on the south side of the canyon and spent the night there.

The canyon continues to get cooler and more unique!

Soon after the Rock Jam we came to some seeps in the canyon. Most people suggest not drinking this water (even after filtering). It grew little by little as we hiked. It was a neat change to have a small stream in the canyon!




In no time we were at the confluence with the Paria. And guess what? IT WAS BONE DRY!!! There was a couple there who had hiked from White House TH down the Paria to the Buckskin. They told us there was a small stream for the first few miles and then it dried up. So much for knee deep water! That BLM officer is a jackass! :mad: I swear, this is the last time I fully believe a BLM officer!

Looking up canyon. Buckskin coming in from the left and Paria on the right. The water in the Paria here is all from the Buckskin.

After spending a minute at the confluence we headed back up the Buckskin. We soon passed the backpackers just above the safe campsite in the Buckskin. They asked if we had seen it and told them it was just around the next corner. They then debated whether they should filter some water from the Buckskin or make the 2 mile round trip hike down the Paria to some springs.



Back at the Rock Jam. The climb up was relatively easy.



Near the same area we saw the first snake we found a 2nd one. This one was more active than the previous one, but still just as small.




I didn't take too many photos on the hike back and before I knew it we were back to the Middle Trail Exit. We scrambled up to the ledge. The others who had gone up the crack the day before said that the other way was lots easier! The hike up the sandy slope to camp was a lot easier today than yesterday! Probably because I was expecting it to be bad, but also because a nice big cloud came and covered the sun the whole way up!

The lower half of the Buckskin was absolutely amazing! By far my favorite section!!! I was so glad we did it!

Sunrise from inside the tent the next morning. I snapped this and then went back to sleep!

An hour or so latter I got up and opened the tent and took this pic!

We got up and were soon packed and heading out. We stopped at Mt Carmel for breakfast at the Thunderbird "Home of the Ho-made pies"! We'd always wanted to try it because of the name. It was pretty good.
Interesting to hear the Paria was dry. Testament to the weak winter, I suppose.
What a classic! That is one amazing canyon! I can't believe the Paria was dry. Snow melt from Bryce must have been grim this year.
Beautiful! Those tiny rattlers are crazy huh? That's all I've ever seen in the desert. I really need to finally get Buckskin checked off my list!
Good report and great pics. It made me wanna go back.

I'm glad the "camp in middle on top" strategy worked for you. I'd like to try it w/o a car shuttle next time and try sneak routes near Buckskin TH and then back south of White House.

On Middle Trail, those ledges are definitely the way to go up/down -- though the sand makes them a tad sketchy. My friend fell half way down using the "crack" -- scary moment, but he was fine.

Thanks for posting.
- Jamal
...cool report and great pictures, HomerJ!
I love the Buckskin. It's one of the best canyons in the southwest - IMO.
On Middle Trail, I prefer the "crack-route". That's easier and safer for me than the sandy ledges.
Last year I hiked from Wire Pass to Lee's Ferry and the Buckskin was bone dry - no Cesspool.
Thanks for sharing.
Wow, what am I doing sitting in an office!? Nick, let me know when you're planning on doing this!
Thanks guys! This trip totally rocked!!! It was so much fun! I want to go back and explore the upper regions of the Buckskin (above wire pass) as well as the Paria now!!!

Thanks again Jamal for your suggestions!
Good report and great pics. It made me wanna go back.

I'm glad the "camp in middle on top" strategy worked for you. I'd like to try it w/o a car shuttle next time and try sneak routes near Buckskin TH and then back south of White House.

On Middle Trail, those ledges are definitely the way to go up/down -- though the sand makes them a tad sketchy. My friend fell half way down using the "crack" -- scary moment, but he was fine.

Thanks for posting.
- Jamal
Did you ever do this, or similar strategy, on foot, Jamal?
I'm glad this got some recent views, because I hadn't seen it! I love Buckskin. I haven't done the middle part. I hiked the Paria to the confluence then up Buckskin an hour or so before returning in the 100+ heat. I have done the trip from Wire Pass down a few times. But I never had a sense of where the "rock jam" was to where I was able to day hike. I don't think I was very close.....ha. I remember negotiating this one humongous rock fall in a wide part of the canyon. This was as far down canyon as I had gotten. Anywho.........thank you for taking me through that middle section!!!
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