Looking for Utah backpacking recommendation for early spring

Michael B

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Dec 26, 2014
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Planning my first back aching trip in Utah and looking for recommendations. My three sons and I will have a week in early April and would like 4-5 night trek that give us a chance really get a feel for the region. We are pretty capable hikers but mostly looking for the scenery and solitude of being outdoors. Having not been in the area, not sure on weather early April. We're from michigan and are used to cold hiking but will be looking to get out of the snow by then I think! Thanks
 

Mph

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Apr 21, 2013
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Planning my first back aching trip in Utah and looking for recommendations. My three sons and I will have a week in early April and would like 4-5 night trek that give us a chance really get a feel for the region. We are pretty capable hikers but mostly looking for the scenery and solitude of being outdoors. Having not been in the area, not sure on weather early April. We're from michigan and are used to cold hiking but will be looking to get out of the snow by then I think! Thanks


Wow...first backpack in Utah? That's hard...Here a few...no particular order. All are awesome...

Escalante River Corridor
Coyote Gulch
Salt Creek
Grand Gulch
The Maze

Really, all of those would be stellar in April. If the weather holds:)
 

gnwatts

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It would help to know what you are interested in seeing. April is desert time, so I am assuming that is where you want to be. Do you want ruins? Slots? Point to point canyon hikes? Loop hike?
How many cars will you have?

Solitude?
Escalante, haven't been there in a while but I doubt you will have solitude on the normal routes so you will have to be creative, others have more knowledge about this area than I. As a matter of fact all of the areas noted by Mph will be crowded, but have opportunities for solitude with effort. Plenty of areas on Cedar Mesa for solitude, check with the BLM on access and permits etc. I like to avoid crowds and areas that require permits (due to my inherent laziness), so I may be of little help here. PM me if you are interested in some Cedar Mesa loop hikes, as the rangers are not very helpful if you want to do something "off piste".
 

Nick

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I don't think crowded is quite the right word for MPH's suggestions. Coyote Gulch maybe, but there is good solitude to be found in some of those other places. Especially in early April. The weather is still a bit unpredictable and the school crowds aren't out yet.

With 5 nights, I'd suggest heading down Hole-in-the-Rock Road. You could piece together one long trip, but it might be even better to do a couple shorter ones to get a better feel of the place. That would be a better way to get a good feel of the region compared to trying to do it all in one long backpacking trip. But if you do really like long backpacking trips, pickup Steve Allen's Canyoneering 3. It is like the bible for the Escalante region and has some excellent, long routes described.

Another good way to spend it would be mixing in some stuff in Capitol Reef and then moving SW into the Circle Cliffs area of GSENM.
 

natylka

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Dec 29, 2014
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I would definitely recommend going to Coyote Gulch. I took a trip back in May and the views are gorgeous.
 

Joey

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I think the Needles (Canyonlands) are a great place for someone's first trip. The routes are well defined/cairned, water is available in several places, campsites are established, and its a fun place to hike. There will definitely be people there, but I'm not sure it would bother anyone. Scenery is spectacular.

Capitol Reef offers some fantastic hiking, maybe not one continuous 5 day trip, but several different trips that are worth it. Sheets Gulch, Spring Canyon, Sulfer Creek, Navaho Knobs, Strike Valley, Muley Twist, and many more. And Halls Creek is one of my favorite places in Utah. There are several trip reports for the park on these forums you can look at. Very few people on the trails.

There are several trips you could do in the Escalante. Its not a bad idea to set up a base camp, and spend a few days exploring different canyons.
 

Michael B

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Dec 26, 2014
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I don't think crowded is quite the right word for MPH's suggestions. Coyote Gulch maybe, but there is good solitude to be found in some of those other places. Especially in early April. The weather is still a bit unpredictable and the school crowds aren't out yet.

With 5 nights, I'd suggest heading down Hole-in-the-Rock Road. You could piece together one long trip, but it might be even better to do a couple shorter ones to get a better feel of the place. That would be a better way to get a good feel of the region compared to trying to do it all in one long backpacking trip. But if you do really like long backpacking trips, pickup Steve Allen's Canyoneering 3. It is like the bible for the Escalante region and has some excellent, long routes described.

Another good way to spend it would be mixing in some stuff in Capitol Reef and then moving SW into the Circle Cliffs area of GSENM.
Thanks everyone for the comments. I think the advice of doing a few locations is good. The pictures of Coyote Gulch are so pretty i like the idea of doing that, even if it sounds a bit more popular/crowded. We can than do a second hike that maybe is less crowded. We plan to end the trip with a day or two of off-roading in Moab since I work for jeep - kind of a must do.
 

Nick

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So long as you're down Hole-in-the-Rock, you might as well take the Jeep through the final 7 miles of rough stuff to the end of the road.

See the last half of this TR:
http://backcountrypost.com/threads/hole-in-the-rock-and-bighorn-canyon-escalante.454/

And if you plan Coyote Gulch for the weekday portion of your trip, you should be pretty light on the crowds. I'm a big fan of doing it as a loop like myself and others have done on here. Just search the backpacking forum for coyote and you'll get lots of results.

http://backcountrypost.com/search/4410440/?q=coyote&o=date&c[title_only]=1&c[node]=20

Looks like @steve's video doesn't show up in that search, but be sure to check it out too. I think it's in his Utah Adventure Series thread.

For the weekend portion pick and choose from a big selection of great canyons. You really can't go wrong. The only one I probably wouldn't do in April is Fortymile Gulch. The rest from Harris Wash all the way down to Cottonwood Gulch are sublime. Twentyfive Mile is a bit rough though...
 

steve

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Dec 11, 2013
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Coyote Gulch


Escalante - including footage from calf creek falls, peekaboo, and spooky slot canyons, and a view of the hole in the rock as it descends to Lake Powell.

 

steve

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Dec 11, 2013
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We plan to end the trip with a day or two of off-roading in Moab since I work for jeep - kind of a must do.

I've been jeeping in Moab for years, and hands down my favorite trail is Elephant Hill in Needles District. A stock jeep with a good driver would be fine, but it has a lot of fun obstacles that aren't dangerous.

Elephant Hill footage starts at 4:35.



Another cool route in Moab (depending on snow) is heading from Island In the Sky's Schaefer Switchbacks all the way to potash road. Not much rock crawling, but an absolutely spectacular view with incredible scenery.
 

Michael B

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Dec 26, 2014
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I've been jeeping in Moab for years, and hands down my favorite trail is Elephant Hill in Needles District. A stock jeep with a good driver would be fine, but it has a lot of fun obstacles that aren't dangerous.

Elephant Hill footage starts at 4:35.



Another cool route in Moab (depending on snow) is heading from Island In the Sky's Schaefer Switchbacks all the way to potash road. Not much rock crawling, but an absolutely spectacular view with incredible scenery.

Thanks. Great videos!
 
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