Loop possible with Boulder Mail Trail?

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We're hoping to do a multi-day backpacking trip in early April and are thinking about the Boulder-Escalante area. A few questions:
1) Is it possible to make a loop with the Boulder Mail trail and Escalante River trail? If so, I'd love details about how to do it.
2) Even if a loop isn't possible, does anyone have recommendations for a multi-day route, including which direction to go on each trail?
3) How hard is it to follow the trail, especially when you're on the slickrock?
4) Is it alright to do this in early April, weather-wise and water-wise?
5) Should we consider other multi-day backpacking trips in this general area? We hiked Paria Canyon a few years ago and loved it!
 

slc_dan

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There are quite a few options. The first that comes to mind would be to do almost the entirety of the BMT, but go east at the river instead of just being done. Follow the river to Death Hollow, and go up river till you reach back to the BMT. It would be more of a Lollipop, but could be pretty cool.

There are honestly countless options in this general area. Pick up Steve Allen's Canyoneering 3. It's the Escalante Bible.
 
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Thanks so much for your ideas. I had seen Canyoneering 3 on Amazon and wondered if it was worth getting. Do you know if Death Hollow is passable all the way back up to the BMT?
 

Artemus

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Thanks so much for your ideas. I had seen Canyoneering 3 on Amazon and wondered if it was worth getting. Do you know if Death Hollow is passable all the way back up to the BMT?
I don't understand the question but Death Hollow can be followed from the Hell's Backbone Road to the Escalante but the section above the BMT crossing is spicy and challenging.
 
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Sorry to be unclear. If I understand correctly, you're suggesting going north up Death Hollow from the Escalante River back to the BMT. Is there anything blocking the way going up Death Hollow? Thanks for your help!
 

Nick

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#6
Thanks so much for your ideas. I had seen Canyoneering 3 on Amazon and wondered if it was worth getting. Do you know if Death Hollow is passable all the way back up to the BMT?
Yes, it is passable from the Escalante River to where the BMT crosses and as Art said, even all the way to the Hells Backbone Road. The upper part of the canyon has long, cold swimming sections while the lower section is mostly knee deep wading. There are usually a couple of spots in the lower canyon that you may still have to get into some deep water so you need to be prepared for that.

We're hoping to do a multi-day backpacking trip in early April and are thinking about the Boulder-Escalante area. A few questions:
1) Is it possible to make a loop with the Boulder Mail trail and Escalante River trail? If so, I'd love details about how to do it.
2) Even if a loop isn't possible, does anyone have recommendations for a multi-day route, including which direction to go on each trail?
3) How hard is it to follow the trail, especially when you're on the slickrock?
4) Is it alright to do this in early April, weather-wise and water-wise?
5) Should we consider other multi-day backpacking trips in this general area? We hiked Paria Canyon a few years ago and loved it!
Back to your original post, it's important to note that there aren't actually trails for most of the routes you're considering. Yes, the Boulder Mail Trail has it in the name, but it is much more of a route than a defined trail. In terrain like that, loops and route variations are limitless! You just need to make sure you're prepared and have the right experience in that kind of terrain. Even in the canyon bottoms like along the Escalante River, you'll have trails in some spots, and in others you'll be forced into the river. The trails are usually just unmaintained social trails and sometimes you'll wish you'd stayed in the river. Sorry if that's obvious to you but the mentions of following trails made me feel like it should be mentioned.

April can be fine, or it can be swift, cold water that makes things more difficult than other times. Just depends on the year and the timing of the runoff. Personally, I'd go for lower elevations in April. The foliage is just barely kicking in up in Death Hollow that time of year. For perspective, I've done it in March, April, May, June and September. June and September were the best with the added heat and the cool water in DH.

As for a route, I've done this point-to-point a few times and quite enjoy it: Start at the air strip, follow the BMT to Death Hollow, follow Death Hollow to the Escalante, then follow the Escalante to Highway 12 bridge. You'll be in for about 22-23 miles but it's not fast trail walking for the most part. Plenty to explore along the way and not too bad navigation wise for experienced hikers. You need a shuttle to pull this off, or bring some cash and a sign that says "Hiker Shuttle 3 miles" (or whatever it is) and you can probably hitch it. We've had luck hitching, but we've also not had luck and had to go into Escalante and hire a shuttle for $80.
 

LarryBoy

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Yes, it is passable from the Escalante River to where the BMT crosses and as Art said, even all the way to the Hells Backbone Road. The upper part of the canyon has long, cold swimming sections while the lower section is mostly knee deep wading. There are usually a couple of spots in the lower canyon that you may still have to get into some deep water so you need to be prepared for that.



Back to your original post, it's important to note that there aren't actually trails for most of the routes you're considering. Yes, the Boulder Mail Trail has it in the name, but it is much more of a route than a defined trail. In terrain like that, loops and route variations are limitless! You just need to make sure you're prepared and have the right experience in that kind of terrain. Even in the canyon bottoms like along the Escalante River, you'll have trails in some spots, and in others you'll be forced into the river. The trails are usually just unmaintained social trails and sometimes you'll wish you'd stayed in the river. Sorry if that's obvious to you but the mentions of following trails made me feel like it should be mentioned.

April can be fine, or it can be swift, cold water that makes things more difficult than other times. Just depends on the year and the timing of the runoff. Personally, I'd go for lower elevations in April. The foliage is just barely kicking in up in Death Hollow that time of year. For perspective, I've done it in March, April, May, June and September. June and September were the best with the added heat and the cool water in DH.

As for a route, I've done this point-to-point a few times and quite enjoy it: Start at the air strip, follow the BMT to Death Hollow, follow Death Hollow to the Escalante, then follow the Escalante to Highway 12 bridge. You'll be in for about 22-23 miles but it's not fast trail walking for the most part. Plenty to explore along the way and not too bad navigation wise for experienced hikers. You need a shuttle to pull this off, or bring some cash and a sign that says "Hiker Shuttle 3 miles" (or whatever it is) and you can probably hitch it. We've had luck hitching, but we've also not had luck and had to go into Escalante and hire a shuttle for $80.
This is all spot on. You shouldn't have a problem hitching on a nice spring weekend. Otherwise in sure the Escalante Outfitters would be able to do a shuttle for you.
 
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#9
You could do a loop from the airstrip to death hollow, then down to the Escalante River, along the river to the Bowington road junction, then back up to the BMT and ending at the airstrip. I've never done it, but I've been thinking about it.

This map shows the Bowington road, or at least what I've been able to find about it. Like I said I've not used that route before myself. Click here to view on CalTopo
 

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