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The Canyons of Trachyte Creek II

Trail Canyon to Lake Powell | Friday – Sunday, March 5-7, 2021

I’ve got a few upcoming backpacking trips planned starting in just a couple of weeks and I thought it would be a good idea to get out on my first backpacking trip of the year so I could get back into the swing of things, especially since I realized that I have not been on a backpacking trip since early October! Last March Diane and I went on an overnight backpacking trip along Trachyte Creek at this time of the year that we enjoyed, so I thought it would be nice to return there again so I could explore a few more of the side canyons in the area. Since Diane wouldn’t be able to join me this time I invited my friend Jackson along. We haven’t gone backpacking together in quite some time, so when I asked him about joining me on this trip he was definitely up for it!

I picked up Jackson after work on Friday afternoon and we headed into Utah, through Hanksville, to the foot of the Henry Mountains near Trachyte Creek and found a place to camp where Woodruff Canyon crosses the highway. We quickly set up camp and then hung out under the stars for a little while until it started getting colder out. Then we retired to our sleeping bags for the night and got to sleep early. It was a bit cold out when we woke up around sunrise on Saturday morning, but we knew it was supposed to warm up pretty quickly. We were hoping to make a loop with Trail Canyon and Woodruff Canyon, so I found a place to lock my bike up nearby and then we headed over to Trail Canyon and started hiking downstream. As expected, the temperature did warm up quickly, although it was a bit windy which made it feel cooler out.

A view of the Henry Mountains from upper Trail Canyon. Pretty much the entire length of the canyon floor was covered with these loose rocks which were really no fun to hike on.

Upper Trail Canyon

Entering the short narrows of Trail Canyon.

Narrows Entrance

Jackson in the Narrows

Jackson in the Narrows

Looking back after walking through the narrows.

Through The Narrows

Jackson in lower Trail Canyon.

Jackson in Trail Canyon

Once we reached Trachyte Creek we continued heading downstream and thankfully the hiking was much nicer than in Trail Canyon.

At Trachyte Creek

Checking out a deep alcove overhanging the creek.

Creek Overhang

Looking out from the alcove.

Alcove View

For much of the morning the sky was kind of overcast with thin clouds, but the clouds seemed to get nicer in the late morning.

Canyon Clouds

Jackson walking along the creek as we continuously had to search for places to cross.

Along The Creek

Canyon Scene

We found a great campsite on the bench across from the mouth of Woodruff Canyon.

Trachyte Creek Camp

Jackson borrowed my 1-person tent for this trip since it was lighter than his tent. It’s not often I get an opportunity to take a photo with two of my tents in it.

Copper Spur Alcove

After getting camp set up and having some lunch Jackson wasn’t feeling the greatest and decided to take a nap and hang out around camp while I continued downstream to Swett Canyon and Lake Powell.

Along The Wall

I hiked up Swett Canyon to the base of Hoskinnini Monument.

Hoskinnini Monument

Then I continued down Trachyte Creek to Lake Powell. With the current lake level way down I ended up hiking to an overlook where I could see the lake over the tamarisk before turning around.

Lake Powell View

Hiking back up Trachyte Creek Canyon in the late afternoon.

Trachyte Creek Canyon

Before reaching camp I hiked a short distance up Woodruff Canyon to find out if we would be able to get past the obstacles in the lower canyon to complete our loop in the morning.

Woodruff Canyon

Lower Woodruff Canyon

Lower Woodruff Canyon

Unfortunately, when I reached the first obstacle it was clear that we would not be getting past it without getting soaked, which was not something we would want to do early in the morning. That meant we would be returning the same way we had come and hiking back across all those loose rocks in Trail Canyon.

Woodruff Canyon Obstacle

Back up on the bench near camp.

Bench View

We spent the rest of the evening hanging out at camp.

Evening At Camp

The temperature did not drop quickly when the sun went down so we stayed outside and watched the stars for a while and then went to bed when we were finally tired. There was no wind overnight and the temperature stayed nice, so I slept very well. We woke up around sunrise on Sunday morning, had a little breakfast, packed up camp and then headed back up Trachyte Creek to Trail Canyon.

The reflected light in the bends of the canyon was nice this morning.

Morning Bend


Crossing the creek again…

Creek Crossing

Canyon Curves

Canyon Curves

Trachyte Creek Sunstar

Trachyte Creek Sunstar

On the way back we stopped to explore a few large alcoves that we had passed by the previous day. I found this one faint inscription written in axle grease that read ‘TRAVELER’ but I could not read the second word. According to Steve Allen in Utah’s Canyon Country Place Names it said ‘Travelers Palace’

Travelers Palace

Lovely canyon views along Trachyte Creek.

Trachyte Canyon Bend

Trachyte Creek

Peeling Wall

Peeling Wall

Jackson climbed up into this alcove that had some unusual rocks that were stacked and standing straight up.

Alcove Exploring

Trachyte Tree

Trachyte Tree

Soon we reached the rocky bottom of Trail Canyon and started hiking back up it. The temperature out by now had warmed up quickly and it was windy out again.

Back Up Trail Canyon

Jackson hiking back through the narrows.

The Narrows

Trail Canyon Narrows

Trail Canyon Narrows

Almost back to my Jeep parked along the highway.

Almost Back

We made it back to my Jeep shortly before noon. Since we had not completed the loop with Woodruff Canyon we had to drive back down the highway a few miles to pick up my bike and then we returned to Hanksville where I grabbed a burger and fries from Stan’s Burger Shak before driving home. It was another nice weekend exploring the canyons of southern Utah!

>> Trail Canyon to Lake Powell Photo Gallery

One Comment

  1. Deb
    Deb April 6, 2021

    Wow, sure is beautiful country. Thanks for sharing it’s beauty.

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