Willow Gulch from Hole in the Rock


Jul 24, 2021
I'm planning a packrafting trip in mid-April, where I will go in via Willow Gulch, paddle over to Fifty Mile and hike back out to HITR road. I plan on doing this over 3 days.
What i'm trying to figure out is where to park so that when I come out of Fifty Mile and hit HITR, i'll not have a long road walk back to my truck.
My original thought had been to drop my pack off at the main Willow Gulch trailhead parking area (Green box) and then drive back down HITR and park near the Fifty Mile/HITR junction. Then road walk back to the trailhead, pick up my pack and hike into Willow and camp near Broken Bow arch.
Taking a closer look at Google Earth, it looks like I could start where Willow Creek meets HITR (Blue box) and then hike up the creek bed until I get into Willow Gulch proper (Purple circle).

When I zoom in and follow the creek bed, it appears to be doable, but there are some shadow areas and i'd hate to hit a dryfall that I can't see and have to hoof it back to the road.
Does anyone have any experience with entering Willow near HITR or know of any other good more direct routes to avoid winding around HITR and then up BLM 276?
Water level is very low .... Lots of mud and debris till then main river channel is almost certain.
Thanks Bob, I was expecting to run into mud/quicksand. I called up to the Escalante visitor center and spoke to a ranger who told me they did a packraft down Willow last fall and said the lake was present before Bishop canyon and they could paddle up Bishop a ways. I think the lake is now 20-25 ft lower since last fall, so it will be interesting. I also read an article recently about a trip that was made this past Jan going down Willow and over to Fifty Mile to see the exposed Greggory Natural Bridge. So the lake end seems doable, just not sure what that slog will be like.

Still hoping to hear from anyone that may have come into Willow Gulch via Willow Creek, starting at its junction with HITR road.
Looked on GE ...... didnt see anything to block either, at least to you get to the lake level in the photo. Change your GE date to 5/2013 and you get the canyons shadow free. Personally Id bail in/out of both of them before the road and cross country to the truck...
Thanks, appreciate that. I forgot about pulling the time back.
I had looked at a cross country at one point, when I was considering XC from my truck to the main Willow trailhead. I found that track and had crossed at this entry: 37°18'43.31"N,111° 1'19.95"W. Looked like a reasonable downhill into the wash on sand. RE the screenshot below, I'll continue down creek, rather than continue to follow my track to the Willow trailhead.

I think i'll give that a shot. Looks like 1.25 - 1.5 miles to the Willow Creek entry point. When I come out of Fifty Mile, i'll be very close to the truck, which is always a bonus.
Can't wait, this place calls to me!

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