Stair Canyon, Lucky Charms, Sandthrax Slickrock & Hog Canyon
Saturday & Sunday, December 17-18, 2022
Earlier this year as I stood near the rim of Hog Canyon on Trachyte Point overlooking the sandstone wilderness that North Wash cuts through, I realized I had not done much hiking in this area and I made it one of my goals to get back to start exploring North Wash and it’s side canyons later this year. Coming from Grand Junction, I rarely have a reason to drive through North Wash to get anywhere I’m going in southern Utah since it’s out of my way, so I have only driven through this canyon a couple of times over the years. Most of those times were after exiting The Maze to Hite, and by that time I was usually in a hurry to get home and didn’t have any extra time to make additional stops along the way. Aside from stopping at a couple rock art sites near the road and going on one short hike up Leprechaun Canyon with Diane a couple years ago, I have done nothing else in North Wash and was looking forward to finally checking it out!
I only wanted to camp one more night this year so I could reach an even 75 nights and get at least one night in this December, so I took a break from the long cold nights of winter and didn’t leave right from work on Friday like I usually. Instead, I left home bright an early on Saturday morning, topped off my gas tank in Hanksville and drove past the Henry Mountains at sunrise on my way to North Wash. I had purposely planned this trip for the winter when North Wash would hopefully be less busy since this area is very popular with canyoneers, and I think the timing worked out pretty well since I didn’t see anyone else in North Wash and the side canyons that I explored. Even traffic on the highway through the canyon was very light.
I was driving past the Henry Mountains at sunrise, so I had to stop for a couple of photos.
After reaching Three Forks, where North Wash, Butler Canyon and Stair Canyon all meet up, I parked my Jeep and started hiking up Stair Canyon with the temperature hovering just slightly above the single digits. It was cold enough out that my water bottle started slushing up after hiking up the canyon for a couple of miles.
The light in the canyon wasn’t that nice at first, but after a couple of miles the canyon narrowed up a bit and the sun got higher in the sky and the scenery took on a whole new look!
I hiked just a bit further than this narrow section of the canyon where I reached a dryfall that I could not climb up, so that became my turnaround point.
The light was even better on the way back down the canyon!
There was a lot of tafoni, solution pockets and ‘ghoul walls’ in this canyon.
After returning to my Jeep I decided to go on a bit of a drive to the top of Poison Point and Cedar Point above the head of Stair Canyon.
From the edge of Cedar Point a had great view over the Dirty Devil River to Buckacre Point and The Big Ridge.
There was also a nice view up Hatch Canyon to Gunsight Butte and Sunset Pass.
After returning down into North Wash I went on a short hike into Lucky Charms Canyon, which was falling into the shadows as I arrived.
Although it’s a pretty short canyon, the lines and colors of this little slot canyon were very nice.
Leaving Lucky Charms
For my last hike of the day I explored the sandstone above Sandthrax Canyon and hiked up to an overlook above the West Fork of Butler Canyon.
From the highpoint at the end of my hike I had a great view over the sandstone wilderness in all directions.
I returned to my Jeep shortly before sunset and then headed off in search of a campsite for the night. Although I could have camped nearby, I wanted to find a spot outside the bottom of the canyon where I hoped it would stay a little warmer overnight. This was a good choice because my campsite on Cedar Point only dropped down to 25 degrees overnight, but when I returned to North Wash on Sunday morning it was around 11 degrees.
Since I had camped above North Wash on Saturday night, that meant I got to watch another sunrise on the Henry Mountains Sunday morning.
My second Henry Mountains sunrise this weekend. I’m looking forward to returning next summer.
For my final hike of the weekend, I walked across the suspension bridge at the Hog Springs Recreation Area and then continued up Hog Canyon.
There was a lot of ice in the canyon and flowing water, too.
My turnaround point was the pool and waterfall about a mile up the canyon.
I climbed up above the waterfall for a view into upper Hog Canyon.
Up a nearby fork of the canyon there was another smaller pool with a frozen waterfall.
I returned to North Wash at the mouth of Hog Canyon and then started my drive back home. I had a great time exploring the canyons of North Wash this weekend and am looking forward to returning again to do more of the same in the future!
Rock Art of North Wash
As I explored the canyons of North Wash I came across some rock art along the way, so here are a couple photos I took of the petroglyphs and pictographs I saw.
That’s an interesting figure on the left?
These little guys were probably my favorites.
This is a very large and interesting panel, but it’s so hard to see and photograph!
A Fremont figure between the stripes.
Of course, no trip to North Wash is complete without a quick stop to visit the Moqui Queen!