a conversation with the earth guidebooks + guided hiking

Posts categorized “Go Far”.

Premier Canadian Rockies trails

Craig and I recently hiked a few of our favourite trails in the Canadian Rockies. If you haven’t done them, do your best to make it happen.

  1. Pocaterra Ridge in Kananaskis Country.  It’s Trip 29 in Where Locals Hike in the CDN Rockies. Drive Highway 40 south to Highwood Pass. You gain about 550 m over 9.3 km one way. If you don’t want to hitchhike to set up your vehicle at the end of the hike, then hike out to the summit of the ridge. Return the same way.
  2. The Iceline. It’s Trip 14 in Don’t Waste Your Time in the CDN Rockies. If you do the full loop, dropping into Little Yoho Valley, then ascending the Whaleback, you’ll gain 717 meters over 19 km.
  3. Mist Ridge in southern K-Country. It’s also described in Where Locals Hike in the CDN Rockies. You’ll gain 1200 meters, over 23 km. Or just ascend to the first high summit, and return the same way. The week of July 17, the smoke from BC forest fires was so thick that we didn’t want to hike in the parks. But we had clear skies way down here. This trail is also available early summer and into late fall.

Before you plan your hikes the rest of this summer, study this excellent website to check where the smoke from B.C. wildfires is blowing:  http://firesmoke.ca/forecasts/viewer/run/ops/BSC-CA-01/current/

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Lower Calf Creek Falls, Utah

The Ten Best Hikes in Utah.”

“Utah’s 15 Most Scenic Trails”

“20 Hikes You Shouldn’t Miss in Utah”

Lots of these “authoritative” lists turn up whenever you Google any permutation of “best hikes Utah.” And it’s all click bait: fluff masquerading as useful, meaningful information.

Sure, the showcased hikes are goods ones. But they’re obvious choices: widely known, popular, crowded. No actual hiking, and no genuine research was necessary to cobble together these lists. “Content” like this is quickly, easily skimmed from other, equally shallow, online sources. That’s why there’s so little beyond the photos. It’s superficial, unreliable, lacking in critical detail, and poorly written.

Of the hikes in Grand Staircase—Escalante National Monument, near the towns of Boulder and Escalante, Utah, two trails that always appear on such lists are Lower Calf Creek Falls, and Upper Calf Creek Falls. Try it. Google “Best Hiking Trails Escalante, Utah” or “escalante utah hiking trails. These two hikes will always be among the first-page results. But before you enshrine these hikes in your trip itinerary, here’s what you need to know…

As recently as five years ago, the Lower Calf Creek Falls trailhead was rarely full of vehicles. You could almost always find space to park, or an empty site at the creekside campground. Then came a trumpet-blast of publicity. Utah’s Mighty 5 advertising campaign urged the world to visit the state’s five national parks and recommended driving Highway 12 between Bryce and Capitol Reef parks, passing Calf Creek along the way. Meanwhile, various publications named Highway 12 among the most spectacular roads in the world.

Calf Creek visitation, and Highway 12 traffic, soon exploded. Above is a photo—taken on a 90°F day in June—showing the Calf Creek Recreation Area parking lot overflowing. When the weather is cooler, and the hiking conditions more desirable, Calf Creek is even more crowded than this. Parked cars spill out onto the highway. Airborne dust on the Lower Calf Creek Falls trail never settles, because the hiker traffic is nearly constant.

If you need a constructed, defined trail to feel comfortable hiking in Grand Staircase—Escalante National Monument, this six-mile-round-trip path to Lower Calf Creek Falls is one of your few choices. The scenery is superb the entire way. The canyon walls are sheer and colorful. The waterall drops 126 feet into a pool within a sculpted bowl graced with profuse greenery. You’ll even glimpse native rock-art along while you hike. That’s why we included Lower Calf Creek Falls in our book, Hiking from Here to WOW: Utah Canyon Country.

Our book also includes the nearby, 35-minute route descending 660 feet—among black boulders scattered across rippling, cream-colored Navajo sandstone—to 50-foot Upper Calf Creek Falls. This isn’t a trail, but the route is well-cairned. And the upper falls is a beautiful, refreshing sight. Water bursting forth in the desert, creating a lush sanctuary, seems a miracle. But Upper Calf, like Lower Calf, is now high on the to-do list of every hiker who passes this way. It’s common to see a dozen cars at the trailhead, unless you’re there mid-summer or mid-winter, when it’s either too hot or too cold to hike comfortably, and hypothermia or steep ice could pose serious risks.

But there’s vastly more to Grand Staircase—Escalante National Monument than Lower and Upper Calf Creek Falls. Most of the five-star hiking here is difficult or impossible for visitors to experience on their own, because it’s undocumented, unpublicized, largely unknown. The monument’s best dayhikes not described in guidebooks or indicated on maps. That’s because there are very few actual trails in this 1.8 million-acre wilderness. The best hiking is on cross-country routes too complex for most hikers to decrypt without a local guide.

Intrigued? With our help, the time you spend hiking in Utah near Escalante and Boulder will be among the most vividly memorable experiences of your life. We’re Craig & Skye Copeland, and Adam Harmon. We’re the Utah Slickrock Guides. We invite you to get in touch with us, even on short notice. Contact  nomads@hikingcamping.com  – (435) 335-7544. Describe your interests, experience and ability. Knowing all that, we can ensure you don’t waste your time in Utah canyon-country.

Want to hike only a few hours? All day? Several days during a week? Let’s do it. Our routes vary from four to eight hours. Compared to hiking a trail, you’ll find cross-country hiking with us is way more flexible and exciting. Compared to hiking in a forest, you’ll find hiking on slickrock elicits childlike joy. And compared to anywhere else on our planet, you’ll find the Boulder / Escalante region is slickrock-hiking central.

Surrounding Utah Highway 12 is a remote, serene, sunny wilderness fissured with chasms, crusted with slickrock, studded with domes, reefs, buttes and pinnacles, and infused with the mystery of an ancient culture. Come explore it with us.

After he and his family hiked an eight-hour day with us, here’s what one of our clients recently said:  That was the best hike I’ve done in years, far exceeding my expectations.”

Join us—in person, or in print:

Escalante Utah hiking trails

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“Escalante Utah hiking trails” or “hiking trails near Boulder Utah” are short phrases with vast meaning. It covers a lot more ground than simply the hiking trails near Escalante Utah.

Many hikers familiar with Escalante assume “Escalante Utah hiking trails” refers to the hiking opportunities accessed via the Hole in the Rock Road, which departs Utah Highway 12 just east of the town of Escalante and probes Grand Staircase—Escalante National Monument.

All the hiking trails near Escalante Utah are detailed in our guidebook titled Hiking from Here to WOW: Utah Canyon Country. These trails or cairned routes include Neon Canyon and Golden Cathedral, Hurricane Wash & Coyote Gulch, Willow and Fortymile Gulches, Peek-A-Boo and Spooky slot canyons. Directly off Utah Highway 12, our book describes the 15-mile one-way hike, from Escalante town to the confluence with Calf Creek, through the Escalante River Canyon. WOW Utah also describes the popular hiking trails near Boulder Utah: the 3-mile, one-way trail to Lower Calf Creek Falls, and the 40-minute route to Upper Calf Creek Falls.

But Utah’s five-star, high-desert hiking extends far beyond Escalante, the Hole in the Rock Road, and even our guidebook.

That’s because there are actually very few trails in Grand Staircase—Escalante National Monument. Most of the hiking here is cross-country. Much of it requires complex route finding. And a lot of it is undocumented, unpublicized, unknown. You won’t find it described in any guidebook or indicated on any map. So it’s difficult or impossible for visitors to experience on their own. The only way for most hikers to decrypt these routes is with the help of Escalante Utah hiking guides. And we can confidently recommend three of them: us — Adam Harmon, Skye and Craig Copeland.

Together we have decades of combined hiking experience in Utah canyon country. We’re among the few who hold a permit issued by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to guide in GSENM. And all of us have completed Wilderness Emergency First Responder training.

The routes we guide are cross-country. They’re known to only a handful of locals. They’d be extremely difficult for others to find—even if they knew what to look for and where, which they don’t.

Contact us a day before, or weeks before: nomads@hikingcamping.com.  

The scenery you’ll witness with us ranges from sublime to bizarre, from intimate to immense. The physical challenge you’ll face with us depends on your experience and ability, as well as your interests, preferences and goals.

When we guide, it’s not about setting a pace and pushing people to keep up. We can hightail it, and you’re welcome to do so with us. But we don’t expect you to. We believe guiding is about creating the optimal experience for our guests.

If you want your day hiking near Boulder Utah to be at a leisurely pace, we can and will. If you want to stop frequently for photography, we’ll do so, and we’ll help you find optimal vantage points and lighting opportunities. If you want to gaze, absorb, meditate, we’ll do it with you.

Guiding entails leading, of course. But that shouldn’t mean you’re relegated only to following. Before setting out, we’ll ask you questions and listen to your answers. Then we’ll do our best to ensure our day together unfolds according to your expectations as well as ours.

What distinguishes us as Escalante Utah hiking guides, however, is…

  • We believe constantly trying to entertain and inform you is a distraction. Sure, we enjoy people. We want to get to know you. We’re easy to be with, and we have fun. But unlike many guides, who regale you with stories and factoids you’ll soon forget, we’re comfortable with silence.  

The grandeur of canyon country speaks eloquently for itself. Too much information or perpetual chitchat prevents hikers from being fully present: seeing, hearing, feeling. If you can quiet your mind, the power of this mystical place will touch you profoundly and resonate with you forever.

  • We can do much more than lead you on easy, short, scenic walks. We can guide truly adventurous dayhikes. Ambitious, athletic, accomplished hikers will find a day with us is challenging, exciting, and gratifying.

Some of the routes we guide allow variation: you can follow your bliss and still tag all the waypoints. But several of our routes link obscure passages that can be pierced only by navigating with surgical precision. And a few of our routes are long, spanning rough terrain, with substantial elevation gain and loss, so they’re physically demanding.

Finding our routes is the result of years of hiking. Tuning these routes required dogged reconnaissance. The on-foot tweezing-out of secrets hidden in a topo map demands patience, tenacity, curiosity, and love for the land. It’s an art. And our fellow guide Adam Harmon is an artist. His medium is sandstone. He’s the art director for our group of Escalante Utah hiking guides.

The three of us—Adam, Skye and Craig—invite you to journey with us to the inner realm of Utah canyon country: far beyond the well-known hiking trails near Escalante Utah.

Peruse the accompanying details, then send your questions to us: nomads@hikingcamping.com. Or, if you’re in our area, and you’re keen to hike soon, phone us: (435) 335-7544.

Join us—in person, or in print:

Hiking Utah Burr Trail

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Utah’s Burr Trail is a two-lane stretch of blacktop snaking between Boulder, Utah, and Capitol Reef National Park. It eventually connects to the dirt Notom Road which plies north to Highway 24, or south to Bullfrog marina and Powell Reservoir. Shortly after departing Boulder, the road itself is the only manmade thing in sight, except for a few road signs. Step off the pavement in any direction, and you’re entering high-desert wilderness.

The Burr Trail runs through the northeast corner of Grand Staircase—Escalante National Monument, which is the slickrock-hiking capitol of Planet Earth. So if you’re a hiker, and you’re reading this as a result of Googling the phrase “hiking burr trail utah,” you’re smart. You’ve zeroed in on much more than the best hiking near the Burr Trail. You’ve pinpointed what we consider the most spectacular and fascinating hiking anywhere.

Most of this five-star hiking, however, is difficult or impossible for visitors to experience on their own, because it’s undocumented, unpublicized, largely unknown. Sure, you’ll find a few of the best Burr Trail Utah hikes in the guidebook we  wrote. It’s titled Hiking from Here to WOW: Utah Canyon Country. Definitely hike Upper Muley Twist Canyon. If you’re not feeling up to the full 9.4- to 14- mile loop (depending on whether you can drive to the 4WD trailhead), at least hike one mile round-trip (from the 4WD trailhead) to Strike Overlook on the Waterpocket Fold.

But the vast majority of the premier hiking here is not described in guidebooks or indicated on maps. That’s because there are very few actual trails in Grand Staircase—Escalante National Monument. The best hiking is on cross-country routes too complex for most hikers to decrypt without a local guide.

Intrigued? With our help, “hiking burr trail utah” could rank among the most vividly memorable experiences of your life. We’re Craig and Kathy Copeland, and Adam Harmon. We’re the Utah Slickrock Guides. We invite you to get in touch with us, even on short notice.

Contact  nomads@hikingcamping.com  – (435) 335-7544Tell us your interests, preferences, and goals. Describe your experience and ability. Knowing all that, we can spice your Utah Burr Trail drive with a big, bold, mundane-existence-shredding accomplishment on foot.

Let’s do it. Our routes vary from four to eight hours. We can dial the physical challenge up or down, as you wish. Compared to hiking a trail, you’ll find cross-country hiking with us is way more flexible and exciting. We prefer hiking on slickrock to other terrain. And the area near Boulder and Escalante Utah is the best slickrock hiking.

Surrounding Utah’s Burr Trail is a remote, serene, sunny wilderness fissured with chasms, crusted with slickrock, studded with domes, reefs, buttes and pinnacles, and infused with the mystery of an ancient culture. Come explore it with us.

“Do big things, or little things will do you.” 

—Utah Slickrock Guides

Join us—in person, or in print:

Hole in the Rock Road Utah

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The Hole in the Rock Road has a greater concentration of Utah’s premier, high-desert hiking than any other thoroughfare in the state. It’s an unpaved spur departing Utah State Highway 12 at 4.5 miles east of Escalante and beelining south into Grand Staircase—Escalante National Monument.

While driving this road, try to envision the 70 pioneer families who forged the original path, by faith and desperation. During the winter of 1879 to 1880, they moved 83 wagons, with 1200 horses and cattle, through terrain as rugged as any in the world, on an epic journey to colonize southeast Utah. In mid-December, having lumbered 57 miles out of Escalante, they arrived at a cavernous fault in the rim of Glen Canyon, 1800 ft above the Colorado River. This was Hole in the Rock. From the end of the road today (high-clearance vehicle required), you can hike down this chasm. Construction of a wagon road, cantilevered down the cliff, continued eleven hours a day for six weeks. By February when every pioneer and most of the livestock had safely reached the river, the gauntlet of struggle and deprivation continued.

All the premier hikes starting at trailheads accessed via the Hole in the Rock Road are detailed in our guidebook titled Hiking from Here to WOW: Utah Canyon Country.

Anyone keen to sample Utah’s best hiking must drive the Hole in the Rock Road and, ideally, stay in the area several days, either backpacking, or base-camping and dayhiking. But before you go, be aware of one fact and one misconception:

(a) The Hole in the Rock Road is famous. Many of the hikes here are often overcrowded. The most glaring example is Peek-a-Boo and Spooky slot canyons. Another is Coyote Gulch, accessed via Hurricane Wash.

(b) The Hole in the Rock Road doesn’t have it all. Most of Utah’s five-star, high-desert hiking is elsewhere in Grand Staircase—Escalante National Monument.

So, where can you escape the Hole-in-the-Rock-Road crowds? And where can you find the rest of Utah’s premier, high-desert hiking?

Much of southern Utah’s best hiking is difficult or impossible for visitors to experience on their own, because it’s undocumented, unpublicized, largely unknown. You won’t find it described in any guidebook or indicated on any map, because Grand Staircase—Escalante National Monument has very few actual trails. Beyond the Hole in the Rock Road, the hiking is largely on cross-country routes too complex for most hikers to decrypt without a local guide.

Intrigued? With our help, hiking in Grand Staircase—Escalante National Monument could rank among the most vividly memorable experiences of your life, rewarding you with all the solitude, tranquility and beauty you’ve imagined possible. We’re Craig and Kathy Copeland, and Adam Harmon. We’re the Utah Slickrock Guides. We invite you to get in touch with us, even on short notice.

Contact  nomads@hikingcamping.com  – (435) 335-7544

Tell us your interests, preferences, and goals. Describe your experience and ability. Knowing that, we can spice your next visit to southern Utah with a mundane-existence-shredding accomplishment.

Want to hike only a few hours? All day? Every day for a week?

Let’s do it. Our routes vary from four to eight hours. We can dial the physical challenge up or down, as you wish. Compared to hiking a trail, you’ll find cross-country hiking with us is way more flexible and exciting.

Surrounding the Utah towns of Escalante and Boulder is a remote, serene, sunny wilderness fissured with chasms, crusted with slickrock, studded with domes, reefs, buttes and pinnacles, and infused with the mystery of an ancient culture. Come explore it with us.

“Do big things, or little things will do you.” 

—Utah Slickrock Guides

Join us—in person, or in print:

YOUR SAFETY IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY

Hiking and camping in the wilderness can be dangerous. Experience and preparation reduce risk but will never eliminate it.

Information published in a book or on a website—regardless how authoritative—is not a substitute for common sense or sound judgment. Your safety is your responsibility. The unique details of your specific situation and the decisions you make at that time will determine the outcome.

When hiking, threats to your wellbeing are unpredictable; you must always be aware. In the backcountry, risk is subjective; you must gauge it for yourself. Away from civilization, small mistakes can have severe consequences; you must vigilantly prevent injury and avoid becoming disoriented.

Never hike alone. Before setting out, check the weather forecast and current trail conditions; adjust your plans accordingly. Always carry a map and compass, a first-aid kit, extra clothing, a personal locator beacon, plus enough food and water to survive an emergency.

If you doubt your ability to negotiate rough terrain, respond to wild animals, or handle sudden, extreme weather changes, hike only in a group led by a competent, licensed guide.

The authors and the publisher disclaim liability for any loss or injury incurred by anyone using information published on this website or in the books presented on this website.