happy canyon

regehr

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Hi folks, I'm trying to evaluate the feasibility of hiking the Happy Canyon narrows with my kids (8 and 10) next weekend. They're good hikers and can handle a 10-12 mile day. The plan would be to drive down Poison Springs, take the bench track as far as it'll go (I drive a 4runner but am pretty conservative with it), follow the track farther on mountain bikes until we feel like stopping, then walk the rest of the route. My guess is that this'll be a long day for us but it should be workable as long as we're able to make good progress driving / riding on the bench track, and as long as the first 11 miles of Poison Springs is in good shape. If anyone has feedback or recent info on the conditions of these road I've like to hear it.

My backup plan would be to walk into middle Bluejohn but I'm less interested in that since I've done it before.
 
Spectacular Hike! Awesome scenery! Yeah...Pretty straightforward if the bench road is in good shape. Drive the bench road until you are stopped by rock fall. Park...follow the road by foot say 2-3 miles...there is huge rock cairn on the right hand side....hike down...cross river...and then head up the canyon...Pretty awesome. I would say it was 5-6 hours round trip for me. At a leisurely pace...that area is outstanding! Have fun.

BTW...I have not been down there this year, so this is not UP To Date information! Try calling BLM Hanksville office. They usually put a blade on it once a year....calling the Maze Ranger station too...they get reports of people entering the Maze that way...
 
Thanks Mph, I'll definitely call the rangers and see if they have some road condition updates (though it often seems like it's better to just get out there and look!).
 
I went in early October, 2014. We started from camp at little Egypt at 9am and made it back to Hanksville around midnight. I found the Poison Springs road to be slow going and a bit nerve wracking. There are tons of cobblestones, and a few complete washouts with off road bypasses. I believe it was around 3 hrs each way on the road. We didn't have time to walk all the way through the entirety of the Happy Canyon narrows because we promised to call in to family by 11:30pm, but we made it most of the way.
The dirty devil crossing is very muddy and quick sandy.

The old miners track is drive was my least favorite part, rough and with some cliffs. Depending on your 4x4 skills, you may find it easier.

We used Kelsey's book to find the way.


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Hi Christian, I would call myself a weak to average 4wd person, I do it to get places but not for fun-- we'll get an early start, thanks!
 
Have fun, Happy is incredible. Here is a pic I shot in Oct when I went:
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Folks, thanks again for the advice/info. We hiked Happy today, leaving ~7:00, and had a great time. I hadn't driven Poison Springs before but it seems to be in good shape relative to other years, it took us ~40 minutes to drive the ~11 miles to where the Black Jump road turns off. Then around an hour to make it somewhere close to the end of the drivable part of the Black Jump road. This road is incredible and I feel stupid for not camping out there a few days. Nobody else was out there. The petrified wood is awesome. The route down to the river was well-cairned and would have been easy enough to find anyhow. The kids had a blast with the DD crossing: the 8yo held my hand and the 10yo crossed on his own. The flow was in the 80-90cfs range. The mud was nasty and there was a bit of genuine quicksand. After crossing we ran into a guy from Colorado who had hiked in from Burr Point. The narrows were amazing and we spent a while in there-- very cool and pleasant. The forecast for Hanksville today was about 80 and it was hot walking out, we wet our shirts and hats a few times to keep cool. This hike would be tough or maybe dangerous in summer. We had dinner where the Black Jump road meets the main PS road and got back to Hanksville at dusk.

Anyhow, thanks again. I might not bother with a trip report since Happy seems plenty overexposed on the internet already.
 
Killer...good for you! PSprings is a sweet canyon. That area is crazy awesome. Glad all went well!
 
I know I'd like to see a TR. Or at least a few pictures here in this thread if you really don't want to write one.
 
They must have bladed the road sometime in the last 5 months. When we drove PS in OCT there would have been no way to make it to the trailhead in 1hr 40minutes. The road seemed basically unmaintained. I guess some floods had come through there in the prior weeks, come to think of it. Glad you guys had fun.


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Yeah, the PS road was definitely bladed not too long ago. It would be a whole different beast after some floods. The lady I talked to at the Hanksville BLM office emphasized the lack of recent rains when talking about its condition.
 
I will post some pics soon, once I've sorted through them (I took too many of course). But first a few thoughts about the Happy Canyon narrows. The best comparison I can come up with is that like the best cathedrals in Europe it is huge and intimate at the same time. It is completely different from a slot canyon, and completely different from a wide canyon. The narrows are so long and varied that I feel like almost any time around mid-day would work for pictures as long as you have a steady hand (or a tripod) and a camera with good dynamic range. I'm bummed that we didn't have time to walk up to Happy's pinnacle, but as it was (with 1.5 or 2 hours in the narrows) by end of the day the kids were about done.
 
Very impressive. Next time make a camping trip w/ your kids. :)


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Thanks for the beta! I'm planning on hitting happy canyon on Thursday via poison spring. I have a lifted tacoma and lots of offroad experience- but was nervous due to lack of information. Sweet!
 
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