Little Death Hollow
Escalante Trail Guide created by Nick
  • Overview

    Little Death Hollow is located in the northeast corner of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in an area known as The Circle Cliffs. Little Death Hollow is one of at least three canyons in the area with similar names. The largest and most well known being Death Hollow that drains from the south side of Boulder Mountain into the Escalante River, between Boulder, UT and Escalante, UT.

    While Death Hollow is known for clear flowing water and soaring canyon walls, Little Death Hollow is quite the opposite. The canyon is largely dry and consists of sections of wide open vistas at the top of the canyon to mile after mile of tight, sinuous slot canyon as it cuts deep into the Wingate sandstone.


    The Little Death Hollow Trailhead is located on the Wolverine Loop road, south of the Burr Trail. Best accessed from Boulder, Utah, the trailhead is typically accessible to regular passenger vehicles in dry conditions. Please check current road conditions with the Escalante Interagency Visitor Center at 435-826-5499 as the conditions vary from storm to storm. The last stretch of road runs in and out of a wash bottom so if it has rained, it could easily become high clearance 4WD or even impassable.

    To reach the trailhead, drive east from Boulder, Utah on The Burr Trail for approximately 18.5 miles to a signed turnoff for the Wolverine Road (37.924265,-111.220581). The road is paved until this point. After leaving the Burr Trail, stay on the main Wolverine Road for approximately 13 miles to the signed turnoff to the Little Death Hollow Trailhead (37.784069,-111.180447). If you are dropping off a car at the Wolverine Trailhead (37.803829,-111.206696) for the point-to-point version of the hike, you will pass it about 2.5 miles before arriving at the LDH Trailhead. You may also spot a car near either of the next two canyons if you prefer to exit through one of them, see the maps tab for more information.

    Driving Map:
    Driving directions from Boulder, UT to Little Death Hollow Trailhead

    The Hike

    The hike into Little Death Hollow starts out slow, winding through the sage brush and wash bottoms on a network of cow trails in a wide, open valley surrounded by tall walls. It has a great 'cowboy western' vibe, if only you were riding a horse.

    There are some nice patches of petrified wood if you are inclined to wander off the main trail, but if you plan to continue the loop up Wolverine Canyon, don't waste your energy exploring. There are much larger patches in in that part of the hike.

    After about 1.5 miles, a large side canyon will come in on the left (LDC). Just past this confluence, look for a large boulder about 40 feet off the right side of the trail at 37.768817,-111.198616. This boulder has some nice petroglyphs, but strangely, they are half-buried in the sand. Did the boulder fall from above or has the sand filled in what was open space for the ancient artists?

    After the petroglyphs, the canyon begins to narrow and becomes more interesting. There is a good chance you will encounter flowing water for a short stretch at approximately37.759869,-111.215538 and a little further down at 37.755117,-111.214653. Be sure to thoroughly filter or purify it, there are plenty of cattle in the area and they know where the water is too. In dry conditions, this is likely the last available water in Little Death Hollow before reaching the confluence of Horse Canyon.

    Little Death Hollow

    As you hike further down canyon, the canyon will continue to narrow until it finally slots up and stays that way for an extended amount of time. It feels like the main narrows go on for miles without letting up. The hardest part lies in the last section. If it has water in it, be extremely careful about how you proceed. Little Death Hollow can be relatively easy or extremely difficult depending on recent flooding or runoff. If the canyon is holding water, it may require climbing up and over some rather large obstacles (see photo left) where normally, you could cross under. Carry a 30 foot length of rope or webbing and be cautious to make sure you can reverse anything you descend, especially if you aren't doing the loop version and intend to hike back the way you came. Be mindful of hypothermia as well. It may be 90 degrees out, but the water in a slot canyon can be nearly freezing and can send a human into hypothermia in a matter of minutes.

    There is a bypass route described for this section in Steve Allen's 'Canyoneering 3', but we did not attempt it or notice it on our hike through. To learn more about that, pickup a copy of his book.

    After some climbing and crawling through the narrows, the canyon widens for the last mile or so before arriving at the confluence with Horse Canyon. There is typically flowing water here that begins near an old line shack and corral about 1/4 mile up canyon. If it is dry, hike roughly 1.2 miles down Horse Canyon to the Escalante River where water is always available.

    The best way to return to your vehicle is by hiking back through Wolverine Canyon, the next major side canyon as you travel up Horse Canyon from Little Death Hollow. If you take the right turns high in Wolvering canyon, the entire loop comes in at about 17.5 miles, so it is best done as an overnight with a layover in Horse Canyon. Travel in Wolverine Canyon is much easier than in Little Death Hollow but is still very beautiful and a worthy trip itself. See the Wolverine Canyon Trail Guide for details.

    Permits & Regulations

    Permits are required for all overnight trips in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. These are available for free at GSENM visitor centers or at most trailheads, including the Little Death Hollow trailhead.

    Relevant Books & Maps

Michael likes this.
  1. Jason
    Would this be okay in late May? Or would Death Hollow proper be better with all the water...?
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