Death Hollow - From Hells Backbone Road to the BMT


Mar 3, 2013
Super four day trip with Art, Joey and Mike......
We started at the Hells Backbone TH, dropping down a steep slope into Death Hollow thru a alpine forest. gradually it changed to a open Ponderosa forest with manzanita and cactus. Affectionately known as Cactus Flats to those with lightweight shoes. We hiked in beautiful weather 9 miles, 5.5 hours to the first camp, dropping 2800 ft. Camped on a great shelf across from the first reliable water, a spring /pouroff.


The second day headed out knowing it's a water day..... Hop over to the right Fork to miss a deep pool, continue down canyon. Shortly after the confluence is the first swimmer and four more swimmers continued till we decided to stop, do to wet clothes and a spectacular campsite up on a point with 800 ft vertical cliffs all around. Only covered 4.1 miles, dropping 860ft this day in 9 hours, mostly because the in and out of swimmers.



The third day we headed out hoping the swimming was done...but within a mile we hit the longest, deepest yet. Joey dumped his pack off his tube and flooded his goPro. While sitting in the sun drying, thunder could be heard.....Packed up and headed down to get to a wider section 'just in case' Clouded over and the clouds eventually opened raining hard enough to send cascades of water over the cliffs... way nice. We kept hiking, thunder, lightning and rain but this section offered enough places to get out of the creek if we needed too. It passed after a few hours but we stopped to camp under a nice alcove as everyone was wet/cold from the storm. Only covered 3.8 miles this day, way too short of a distance. We decided to get out on the BMT and head over to the old Boyington Road and take that route to the Escalante instead if continuing down DH. We knew it would not be possible to make it to the truck in our allotted time frame. About a mile above camp I lost footing and smashed my camera...... Looks like DH was claiming two this trip.


Headed out the fourth day, after just wading we found the BMT to the east. Headed up that to the top and found the Boyington trail easily (cairned). Headed towards the Escalante, all the time watching storm clouds build all around. Looked like we made a good choice to get out of DH...The Boyington trail proved to be spectacular with long vistas of slickrock, mountains and mesas all around. Made it to the Escalante just as the rain started again. 8.8 miles in 7 hrs, dropping 1850 ft. From there it was to the Escalante bridge TH in 2.6 more miles, past the natural bridge.

All in all another great trip, about 28 miles, lots of swimming, wading and poision ivy. Day 2 and 3 are really slow unrelenting and rough. Below the BMT it is slow going as well.....plan accordingly if you go. Most of the time your things WILL get wet. Hypothermia is very possible.

Art and Joey will enlighten the trip even more with their photos and videos......hopefully soon.

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Jul 5, 2014
You guys are hardcore. Looks like it was an awesome adventure. Can someone enlighten me as to what the BMT is? I know you're not talking about the Benton McKaye Trail which is the only BMT I've heard of.


Aug 9, 2007
Awesome trip guys. I'm super jealous. I had this scheduled for late May but had to scratch it off the calendar because of the damn knee. Thanks for letting me do it vicariously through you. Looking forward to more pics from the other guys.

You guys are hardcore. Looks like it was an awesome adventure. Can someone enlighten me as to what the BMT is? I know you're not talking about the Benton McKaye Trail which is the only BMT I've heard of.

From my Death Hollow Trail Guide:

...the reason the trail is called The Boulder Mail Trail. From 1902 until 1924, this route was the primary channel for communications between the small town of Boulder, Utah and the rest of the world. In addition to providing access for mail delivery, a telegraph line was installed along the entire length of the Boulder Mail Trail between the towns of Boulder and Escalante. Look for the old wire where it can still be seen strung through the treetops, and at times strewn across the ground. It wasn’t until 1940 that final construction of Highway 12 between Escalante and Boulder was complete and not until 1971 before it was paved, giving Boulder the distinction of being one of the last towns in the continental United States to gain automobile access.

My report of the end-to-end BMT:


Mar 3, 2013
Scat, his goPro started working after sitting all nite......but will have to see how well.

Nick, you'd need good knees, lots of boulder hopping, slick, mossy rocks, wading and swimming.. even my legs are sore.
I'm not a writer so I am sure Art or Joey will elaborate a more interesting tale (account). :)

Vegan, anyone that flys to Utah and hikes for a few hours and goes home isn't exactly a push over :)


I walk
Jun 25, 2012
Bob! you beat me to it. Great photos and TR. That is the greatest number of words I've ever seen you type. I think you posted early because you wanted to avoid all of the diss'n we were going to dish out. A lot of witty repartee on this trip... And because you are tougher - I am still exhausted and now going to bed early. I didn't get to bed until 2am this morning after getting off the trail last night.

I think your GPS mileage is off, no?

The mileage I clocked was
Day 1 - 9 miles
Day 2 - 7 miles
Day 3 - 7 miles
Day 4 - 13.5 miles
total - 36.5

That is from memory. I will assemble a GPS track and share it.
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Mar 3, 2013
Was quick look at GPS. Will do in depth and see. I took out a few extra points....
Did a few shingles before it rained here...
I'm sure the wit is coming.... :rolleyes:
Feb 10, 2013
Excellent scenery well captured. Every day my southern Utah trip gets closer and I get more restless and excited, especially after reading all y'all's reports.


May 3, 2013
Awesome. My crew was a few days ahead of you, we did BMT to Hwy 12. We hit the perfect weather window, its been epic down there this spring. Boyington trail has intrigued me for years, gave a guy a shuttle last week that was telling me about it. Next time...and I've just added Death Hollow from the top down to my list for next year. Great TR and pics. A very special place.


Alien from over the pond...
Sep 5, 2012
Great TR and pictures!
Bad that the weather wasn't with you. I've finished DH down from BMT. Now the upper part is on my bucket list - in the summer.
Thanks for sharing this adventure!

Gesendet via iPhone 6 mit CrapaTalk


I walk
Jun 25, 2012
@Joey walked this same section solo, and all the rest, of Death Hollow after we did it and he was so wet and cold he had to get out and make an emergency fire to warm up. So knowing him I know it was really, really cold. In this trip in this TR with him, in May, Mike and I were hypothermic at one spot and we had to talk (stutter) Bob into believing us that we were in trouble. Thank god for Wilderness EMT's. :facepalm: Both Bob and Joey were warmish and happy.

Luckily Joey whipped out all his clothes and hand warmers to cover us and warm us. He and Bob saved our bacon. I really knew I was saved when Joey whipped out his high high performance down puffy because we had examined it at camp before the trip. This guy really has the latest and greatest gear. Comes from being a full-time, long distance backpacker.:help: Maybe we ought to take up a collection.

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