Lower Muley Twist water situation?


Jan 9, 2013
Planning on a loop hike through Lower Muley for next weekend. Either looping from the Post trail head or possibly from the higher trail head off Burr road.

I've read prior trip reports but had a question. It seems they got a lot of rain yesterday (according to the ranger station). How realistic is it to run into some water in the lower Muley portion of the hike? I know that there is relatively reliable water at the Tanks on the way to Hamburger rocks; just wondering if I can expect some pools or puddles in the canyon proper?
The person at the visitor center I spoke with said they hadn't received any word as rangers are rarely out there.

Been there 3 or 4 times in the fall and always found some water below cowboy cave. If I were to go back, I'd probably chance it, and if I was wrong, it's not that far to muley tanks.
Thanks for you guys input!

Couple more questions:

1. Are the switchbacks up the Burr trail road passable with a stock rental car? The NPS info states high-clearance maybe required. Just trying to decide if we want to make it a loop or point-to-point.

2. Arriving to the area LATE Saturday night. Any good suggestions for car camping? I know BLM land is near by; anyone have any choice campsites they wish to share? Cathedral Valley in the park looks good, but once again not sure about the rough road being passable to a rental car.

Thanks again guys
Burr Trail is fine. I've done it in a Subaru, a minivan, and an Xterra. All had no problem.
Cathedral valley is HC AWD/4WD only. You might be able to it in a very carefully driven car, but not the river ford.
There's a simple car campground where the Burr Trail crosses Deer Creek, I believe. Wouldn't be a problem to pull in the middle of the night.

Otherwise you could try something down the Wolverine Loop road, but there's no guarantee that it's passable in 2wd. It's all sand so conditions change every time it floods.
If coming from the N via the Notom road- there are nice camping spots on BLM, a short distance (3 miles?) S of Hwy 24 where the Notom road crosses Pleasant Creek, off to either side of the road. Close to the road so should be easy to find in the dark, and we found it very peaceful as there was virtually no traffic after late afternoon. Plus there is the "Cedar Mesa" campground further S in CRNP, a nice place too but it only has something like 6 sites. Pit toilet there but no water.
Yes, on Burr Trail there is a small campground at Deer Creek. Has a pit toilet but I don't recall any water. Not many sites but it doesn't seem that popular. A little bit further east from there off the N side of Burr Trail is a decent random camping zone- might be harder to find in the dark though.
Whole area indeed got a ton of rain several days ago. Fyi, we're supposed to maybe get snow/rain this weekend, Sunday specifically. Freezing nighttime temps, though they'll probably be above freezing down by Lower Muley. So...there might be water for you. :D That could also affect the road conditions, depending how much precip actually happens. The Burr Trail stops being paved at the park boundary, and Notom stops being paved about 10 or so miles down (heading down from 24). Anyway, just a heads up to keep an eye on that.

If you camp at Deer Creek, there is water in Deer Creek itself, but obviously it would need to be treated. For Cathedral Valley, yeah, no. I wouldn't chance crossing River Ford in the dark in a rental car. If you went all the way down to the eastern entrance into Cathedral, the Caineville wash road, there's some nice camping a few miles in at several little pullouts, but again the weather might make the road iffy. Or it could be fine. Hard to tell. My neighbor's doing the Cathedral Valley loop tomorrow, if I remember I can post here what the road conditions are like.
This is what worries me. The temps don't scare me too much, but having the road be impassable to a rental car would, specifically if I get stuck half way down. Luckily I won't be by myself, so I will have someone to help 'dig me out' if it comes to that, but I hope it doesn't.

The NWS is saying about 20% chance of rain as of this morning, which is down from the 30% they posted yesterday. Coming from out of state, I keep telling myself 'its the desert' and that the chances of substantial enough rain to muck up that road is hopefully less than even 20%.

If you don't mind keeping me posted about the road conditions that would be awesome. While I'm not going up that way to Cathedral Valley, I assume that if the road to it is manageable, then the lower Notom should be as well (caveats aside).
I guess I should add that we wouldn't leave for the Notom road until Sunday AM anyways. If impassable, we will need a backup plan for hikes/backpacking that have paved road access.

I would drive the Notom road to LMT in a Prius with a 20% chance of rain. The Notom Road does get soupy, but unless there is a good amount of rain, I'd chance it. If it does rain while you are hiking, you can always exit via the Burr Trail, and go through Boulder (eat at Hell's Backbone Grill!)

Take the tiny bit of extra time, and go see the Hamburger Rocks.

If you are super concerned with the road, there are plentiful options off the paved Burr Trail. The Gulch, and Deer Creek both come to mind.
Thanks for the info Dan.

I'll probably chance it, depending on how much rain there actually is on Saturday night. Just being a big wuss.

Its funny, and this probably merits a separate thread, but as I've gotten older I find that I perseverate on these 'what ifs' and other details way more than I did when I was younger. I never obsessively checked and rechecked the forecasts when I started backpacking decades ago. Now every possibility fills me with concern.
Even looking at the trip reports for this hike, read numerous warnings about the exposure and route finding up the Post cut-off trail that keep me up at night. I've likely done many trails with more exposure but now that I'm into my 40's, keep ruminating on it. It might be because now I have kids and a wife, whereas before I didn't? Who knows?

tldr; old man gets nervous easier
I feel you.

This is a pretty straight forward, fun hike. I did it solo with no GPS. You'll have a great time.
The forecast is definitely getting downgraded. Looks like it will be cold, but prob little chance of precipitation. Never say never, though.

You absolutely cannot judge road conditions here by the conditions nearby. I've been in a torrential, flash flooding downpour in Cathedral Valley and escaped to Notom, only to find that area bone dry and sunny. And yes, it's the desert, but monsoons can be quite epic. October is historically our rainiest month here, in terms of amounts received. But nothing monsoonlike is forecast anytime soon. The worst thing that happens when the roads are really dry are washboards that can rattle your vehicle right off the road. That and sandtraps. That said, my friend said the Cathedral Valley road was fine today. Very washboardy but fine. She didn't go in over River Ford though.

I hear you on getting more aware of weather et al as one ages. I like to think of it simply as being that we are less foolish now than we were in our younger days. More responsibility certainly breeds more caution.

Am sure you'll have a wonderful time! Enjoy your trip.
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