Maze questions---Sweet Alice Canyon, etc

RyanP

Formerly bob32
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Mar 1, 2015
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Hello all, I have a couple of questions for the Maze experts out there:
  1. Has anyone done the route from Sweet Alice Canyon up to the Land of Standing Rocks? If so, how hard is the scrambling on that exit? I’ve seen people refer to this route and I have come across maps/gps coords for the route, but have never actually read a report of someone doing it, so I don’t have a feel for how sketchy it is in terms of exposure, route finding, scrambling difficulty, etc. Does anyone know how tricky this is compared to the other exits in the area? (I’ve done several of the other ascents and descents in the Maze, and have read about most of the others enough that I can better gauge their difficulty).
  2. I am hoping to drive from the Hans Flat ranger station up to the top of the Flint Trail Switchbacks, or at least as far up the road as I can, in my Subaru Outback. I’m not planning on taking my vehicle down the switchbacks. Does that sound reasonable, or am I crazy for thinking of heading up that road in a non-HC/4WD vehicle? I will not attempt the road if there has been recent rain/mud, or if there is rain in the forecast for the end of the trip.
  3. How reliable and clean is Clell’s Spring compared to Lou’s? If I do this trip, it will probably be in April (or possibly late March), so hopefully in a normal year I can count on good water at Clell’s at that time of year?
Thanks in advance for any feedback!
 

regehr

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the last time I was down there (not real recently) there were just a few rough spots between Hans Flat and the top of the Flint Trail switchbacks and you'd have almost certainly been able to get a Subie through there
 

Bob

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Been from sweet alice down thru fable valley and gyosum
 

RyanP

Formerly bob32
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the last time I was down there (not real recently) there were just a few rough spots between Hans Flat and the top of the Flint Trail switchbacks and you'd have almost certainly been able to get a Subie through there
Thanks regehr! That confirms my impression from what I've read. Do you remember if there was a place to pull over and park before heading down the switchbacks? Or if there were places to park along the road earlier than that in the event that I want to stop early? (I am hoping to park my car at some point---hopefully right before the switchbacks---and then ride my old mountain bike the rest of the way)
 

RyanP

Formerly bob32
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There's a couple parking areas on top just before the descent starts.
Thanks Randy!

If anyone can speak to questions #1 and #3, please chime in (or send me a PM if you don't want the info to be puclic)! Surely someone on this forum has done that route!
 

regehr

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If anyone can speak to questions #1 and #3, please chime in (or send me a PM if you don't want the info to be puclic)! Surely someone on this forum has done that route!

re. #3 I've only been in there once and both springs had some flow, but not a ton. water quality was great. this was in march.
 

Stephanie B

Steph and Blake
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Check out this article from Backpacker magazine. Might be helpful as to how to exit and possible water sources. You might also call the Hans Flat Ranger station for road conditions and water sources and perhaps insight regarding exiting Sweet Alice.

Backpacker
 

RyanP

Formerly bob32
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272
Check out this article from Backpacker magazine. Might be helpful as to how to exit and possible water sources. You might also call the Hans Flat Ranger station for road conditions and water sources and perhaps insight regarding exiting Sweet Alice.

Backpacker
Thanks Stephanie!
 

TrailScot

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Hi RyanP ... on my trips to The Maze in April 2018 and April 2019, there was a very good flow of clean water at both Lou's and Clell's Springs. There was quite a lot of vegetation in the troughs at Clell's, so it didn't appear quite as appetizing, but I'm sure it was fine.

I didn't take the exit route via Sweet Alice Canyon, but the Backpacker Magazine article that Stephanie suggested is the best description I have found for this. Kelsey also mentions it, I believe.

If you don't want to drive into the area, I highly recommend the jet-boat option from Moab to Spanish Bottom, operated by Tex's Riverways.
 
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RyanP

Formerly bob32
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272
Hi RyanP ... on my trips to The Maze in April 2018 and April 2019, there was a very good flow of clean water at both Lou's and Clell's Springs. There was quite a lot of vegetation in the troughs at Clell's, so it didn't appear quite as appetizing, but I'm sure it was fine.

I didn't take the exit route via Sweet Alice Canyon, but the Backpacker Magazine article that Stephanie suggested is the best description I have found for this. Kelsey also mentions it, I believe.

If you don't want to drive into the area, I highly recommend the jet-boat option from Moab to Spanish Bottom, operated by Tex's Riverways.
Thanks @TrailScot! Yeah, that backpacker article is definitely the most solid resource I've found on that exit. Also, I agree about the jet boat---In fact, I'm pretty sure I met you on your 2018 trip there ( I recently commented on your trip report about that). For this particular trip, however, I'm planning on driving in because I would like to combine a short backpacking trip in the Ernie's country area with several day hikes in the Roost.
 

RyanP

Formerly bob32
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Does anyone else have any input regarding the drive from Hans Flat to the top of the Flint switchbacks? I just called the ranger station today to ask a question or two, and when I told the ranger my plan, he said they do not recommend driving a Subaru up that road at all (even though my plan was to park it before the switchbacks). Regehr said it was Subie-friendly (but his experience wasn't very recent), and I've read a couple of similar statements online (but also not very recent), so I'm not sure whether I should cancel my plans based on that ranger's advice or if he was just being overly cautious as NPS rangers sometimes tend to be.

Edit: I'm tagging a few users with trip reports in that area, in case they didn't notice this post: @Udink, @Nick, @IntrepidXJ, @Christian, @Stephanie B. Any input on that stretch of road is greatly appreciated!
 
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AWR

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I don't think you'd have any problem as long as the roads are dry. Subaru's have pretty decent ground clearance. The NPS doesn't want anyone out there w/o HC/4WD (which is a good idea). I'm sure they gave you their standard answer.
 

RyanP

Formerly bob32
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I don't think you'd have any problem as long as the roads are dry. Subaru's have pretty decent ground clearance. The NPS doesn't want anyone out there w/o HC/4WD (which is a good idea). I'm sure they gave you their standard answer.
Thanks @AWR! That seems to be the consensus, so I think I'll just go for it
 

CodyL

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Thanks @AWR! That seems to be the consensus, so I think I'll just go for it
Sorry I'm just seeing this thread.....not sure when you are/were heading in for your trip so this may be too late.

#1 -EDITED OUT-

#3 Clells spring is dry as of mid March-2021, but that is ever changing. Lou's is good. Lou's is about as reliable as they come in the maze. Its just a good distance to Water Canyon or Overlook Spring.
 
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RyanP

Formerly bob32
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Mar 1, 2015
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Sorry I'm just seeing this thread.....not sure when you are/were heading in for your trip so this may be too late.

#1 Yes there is an exit route from Sweet Alice to Standing rock. Its steep in some places but not any more difficult than any of the other maze canyon exits. Going out you won't have to remove your pack. A little scrambling in a place or two. No exposure to worry about. Stay in the middle fork almost to the end of the canyon- the route out is on your right. You might have to bushwack a little to get to the canyon wall where it starts up the sandstone. I Spent a lot of time thinking it was the right fork at the end of the canyon and getting cliffed out...lol! I've seen this route with and without Cairns. Not sure if the rangers take them down or what. Last time I was there I talked to a Ranger right by Sand Tank(Fins) Canyon and she said she hadn't heard of that route out of Alice, so I'm not sure what to think about it and why they don't promote it.

#3 Clells spring is dry as of mid March-2021, but that is ever changing. Lou's is good. Lou's is about as reliable as they come in the maze. Its just a good distance to Water Canyon or Overlook Spring.
Thanks for the info---this was barely too late, as I just got back from this trip. I agree with all of your assessment though. Clell's spring was so bone dry (in late March) that it was hard to imagine it ever having water. There was a nasty puddle of water right by the trough, but I had seen better potholes in several places before that point, so I continued further and found better water in one of the side canyons of Sand Tank Canyon. I agree that the route was of similar difficulty to the other exits that I have done in the Maze. I think it was a shorter ascent, which made it easier, but had one short spot that was perhaps trickier (or at least more committing) than any specific spots that I remember from my previous Maze trip. So overall I would rate it as comparable. I think going up it was much easier than going down would be though. I didn't have to bushwhack much at all, and I was surprised at how much usage that route seems to get---it was marked with cairns, and there were a lot of footprints all along the way. Even in random side canyons of the side canyons there were footprints in most of the nooks and crannies that I explored. This surprised me, as I had a hard time finding any info online about this and the rangers didn't seem to have any info about it. And it is indeed a shame that there is no reliable water between Lou's and those other springs you mentioned; it makes it tough to string together a longer route (especially since you want to explore various side canyons along the way).

In summary---the water availability was terrible, the scenery was subpar, the scrambling was very difficult and dangerous, the road walk was long and boring, the permit system was a huge pain, and the whole place is now overused. I would definitely not recommend this area at all!!!!
 
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