Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A desert springtime tradition

Hiking out of Upper Salt Creek, I'd already made up my mind to head back home. After three weeks in southern Utah, all the spectacular scenery was starting to run together. I stopped for the night outside of Ferron, Utah. The rain on the trailer roof woke me up about 4am, but it was quiet again by 5:30 or so.

Last year I had two springtime desert trips that ended in snowstorms. It seems that the tradition continues.

It rained steadily, sometimes hard, all the way north to Brigham City. From Price to Soldier Summit it was snowing huge fat snowflakes and trying to get slushy-slick on the highway. I don't know if they were having the same weather further south in Canyonlands, but I was glad to be out of there.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Upper Salt Creek backpacking

This place has been on my list for at least 15 years; it is known for great Indian ruins, rock art, arches, and spectacular scenery. This was the first time I'd brought backpacking gear with me to Canyonlands, so I was prepared. On Sunday morning, the campsite schedule on the wall in the backcountry office showed site SC3 was open for Monday night; perfect, I thought, 8 miles in, just right for an overnight. The woman at the backcountry desk said, "No, one night in Salt Creek isn't enough. Site SC1 is open the next night, take that one too!"  Okay, I took her advice.

The trailhead is 18 miles from the highway on fairly well-maintained dirt road. I would not want to be caught back here in rainy weather though, the road would become impassable in several places when wet. Monday was cool and very breezy, downright cold at the trailhead (7100') but not bad after dropping down into the canyon and getting out of the worst of the wind. Unfortunately the weather forecast is not so great, showers possible on Tuesday, with Tuesday night and Wednesday becoming much cooler and 40% chance of showers. Hmmm, at least I do have extra food and water if I have to spend a couple extra days at the trailhead waiting for the road to dry out.

Upper Salt Creek is pretty much as advertised. The first mile or so is a steep descent, almost 1000', then the walking is mostly easy walking on the canyon floor. Two hours in, you come to Kirk Spring which is an enormous water source, and the site of an old cabin. The first two campsites, SC1 and SC2, are about a 6-7 minute walk from the spring. (SC1 is the nicer of the two, shadier and more secluded)
From that point on, the scenery (which has been great) just keeps getting better. Several arches are visible, Big Ruin (the largest in Salt Creek) is about a mile further on the opposite side of the canyon, most of the places that look like they might have a granary or a ruin do indeed turn out to have ruins, and there is more and more rock art the further you go. Binoculars are mandatory equipment for this trip, for scanning the canyon walls. The best-known rock art here is a panel known as "All American Man", for obvious reasons... Click on the picture to enlarge it, and note the handprints on the panel.
The pigments have been radiocarbon-dated to approximately 1295 AD, plus/minus. This pictograph is about 7 miles from the trailhead. Another 3/4 mile or so brings you to the Four Faces ruin and pictograph panel, again named for obvious reasons.
Then about 50 yards to a huge spring, the first easily accessible water since Kirk Spring two hours ago
and another 100 yards to my campsite for the night.  SC3 is a nice campsite, in the open about 75 yards from the main trail; it has a good cooking area, two tent sites in the open, one tent site in the shade of a tree, and two rocket boxes for mandatory food storage (there are bears in Salt Creek Canyon). I set up my tent, stored my food, unloaded my pack as much as possible, and hiked another 1.5 miles further; it's all spectacular.

At 5am the next morning, I woke to what sounded like very light rain on the tent fly; not what I wanted to hear. It continued off and on, and by 6:00 there was enough light to get up and get moving. 40 degrees and raining is not my favorite weather, even in a spectacular place; I had my rain gear on over the top of my down jacket. It didn't rain hard, but a steady light sprinkle just enough to want rain gear.

I was already concerned about the weather forecast; the last I'd heard, cooler and wetter weather was on its way. I figured I had seen most of the highlights here, I didn't want to get caught at the trailhead with muddy impassable roads, and after almost three weeks of hiking and biking in southern Utah, all the spectacular scenery was starting to run together. That left only one conclusion: time to go.

So after a quick breakfast in the rain, I struck camp and headed out. The rain stopped by about 8:30 or so. I did stop at campsite SC1 just to see what it looked like (very nice!). After 4 hours of brisk hiking I ate lunch sitting on the tailgate of the truck. It did rain lightly on the drive out, but never hard enough to get the road really wet.

GPS log and pictures at

Picasa web album for this Canyonlands trip

Thoughts for future Salt Creek trips: Binoculars are mandatory equipment. It would be handy to have a guidebook or detailed info on all of the ruins to be on the lookout for; in some cases, like Big Ruin, just getting to the ruin itself is a challenge if you don't know the route.  For a one-night trip, get campsites SC1 (preferably) or SC2, hike to camp, drop most of the gear there, and then continue on to the ruins and rock art. Bring large water containers for sites SC1/2, it's a bit of a walk to water. The best trip would be an end-to-end hike with a vehicle shuttle. Getting the permits right would be a bit tricky, as camping in the upper 14 miles is limited to designated sites SC1, SC2, SC3, and SC4. From Angel Arch on to the north, the remaining 12 miles of Salt Creek is dispersed backcountry camping with no designated sites. I think three nights would be fine but four would be deluxe.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Horse Canyon to Tower Ruin

I went to the backcountry desk in the Visitor Center shortly after they opened, and was able to get campsites in Upper Salt Creek for 2 nights beginning tomorrow. Sweet! But with 20+ miles of backpacking in the next 3 days, I figured I'd better make sure I could indeed walk without getting blisters from the new hiking shoes. Suitably moleskinned and with a different choice of socks, I drove to the Salt Creek trailhead; my objective was a ten mile round trip to Tower Ruin, in Horse Canyon.

The first 2.5 miles is easy walking in and along Salt Creek. Walking in the creek bed was usually easier, since it provided firmer footing than up in the sand alongside. There was enough water in Salt Creek to make it impassable for 4WD vehicles (in the dry season, it is open as far as Peekaboo Spring), but you rarely had to get your feet wet. At the 2.5 mile mark, Horse Canyon branches off to the left (east); it is all dry sandy wash walking.

Another two miles in, and a sandy two-track 4WD road leads another mile back to Tower Ruin. It gets its name from the adjacent sandstone tower.

Tower Ruin is the largest of the ruins in Horse Canyon. It's not all that big, and thought to have been occupied by only one family unit.

There are other ruins and pictograph panels in Horse Canyon, or so I'm told. I didn't see any, but I didn't have binoculars along and didn't spend any time really looking. It's another five miles further up canyon to get to Castle Arch and Fortress Arch; that was more than I wanted to tackle today, saving my energy for tomorrow's backpacking.

From the point where Horse Canyon left Salt Creek, I didn't see any water at all, and didn't see another person. I'd like to go back here as an overnight trip, carrying the extra water but spending more time scanning the canyon walls and visiting the arches.

Oh yes, my heels were fine, no more blisters.

GPS log and more pictures on

Picasa web album for this trip to Canyonlands

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Colorado Overlook Trail

The weather was cloudy with a chance of showers, and the blister on my heel was sore from yesterday's hiking. I decided to bike out to the Colorado Overlook; the 4wd road leaves from the Needles Visitor Center and goes seven miles out to, well, an overlook of the Colorado River. The first three miles is an easy 2wd high clearance road, the remainder gets considerably more technical; definitely 4WD high clearance and I wouldn't take my truck.

I was hurrying a little bit to make sure I could get out and back before it started raining. Out at the overlook, it was 50 degrees and windy, not very pleasant at all especially after the gorgeous weather the past few days. So I snapped a couple of obligatory pictures and headed back.

The squall that came through only rained long enough for me to put on raingear, it was over in less than five minutes and never rained hard. Oh well. I spent the rest of the day exploring all of the roads and nature trails in the Needles section (the cowboy camp at Cave Spring is very interesting). When all was said and done, I'd put 32 miles on the mountain bike and that was more than enough time in the saddle for one day.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Peekaboo, Lost Squaw

It sounds like some sort of parlor game. But actually it was a long hike in the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park. My starting plan was an out-and-back hike from the Squaw Flat trailhead over to Peekaboo Spring in Salt Creek, for an 11 mile round trip.

The trail out to Peekaboo Spring is spectacular. After some ups-and-downs in and out of Lost Canyon, it climbs a few hundred feet and then traverses the rims of several huge amphitheaters. Almost all of this walking is on sandstone and slickrock, with great vistas.

Eventually the trail drops down into Salt Creek. There is a 20-foot ladder descent through a narrow crack that might be a challenge with a large (wide) backpack. At Peekaboo Spring there is a primitive campsite with a pit toilet and 2 tent sites with picnic tables. When the creek is drier in the summer, 4WD vehicles can drive up Salt Creek to this point. There is a small panel of pictographs near the campsite. This is a popular trail, I saw a half-dozen other parties on this trail.

On the way back, I still had lots of food and water and energy so I decided to add a longer return route via Lost Canyon and Squaw Canyon. I did have to stop and put moleskin on a heel blister; my new hiking shoes were great on their maiden voyage to Trough Springs. Today I was wearing different socks and that must have been the issue.

At the junction with the Peekaboo Springs trail, Lost Canyon looks nice enough but nothing spectacular. Campsite LC1 is near this junction, I didn't see any water nearby. But going up-canyon, I have to say that Lost Canyon is gorgeous. Campsite LC2 is maybe a mile up-canyon; another 1/4 mile up-canyon and the springs appear. There is lots of water in here, amazingly lush, and in some places the trail routing was a little bit tricky to avoid big pools and spongy terrain. There was one place that held a huge aspen grove. I'd like to come back here in the fall when the aspens are in full color.

Another mile or so marked the end of the springs, and then about 1/4 mile further was campsite LC3. If I had my choice, I'd take LC2 over LC3. Then another mile of walking put me up over the divide between Lost Canyon and Squaw Canyon, and down to the bottom of Squaw Canyon. Note the world's largest zerk fitting on top of the rim in the distance...

I didn't see anybody else in Lost Canyon, and only one other party near the bottom of Squaw Canyon. Including the mile or so of poking around that I did in Salt Creek, the whole trip was about 14.5 miles. I started with three liters of water, and drained the last few swallows back at the Squaw Flat trailhead.

GPS log and more pictures on

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Trough Springs and Canyon Rims

Leaving Moab, my plan was to head for the Needles District in Canyonlands NP. But first, there was this road on the map, north of the road into Needles, that led to some places called Needles Overlook, and Anticline Overlook. Those sounded interesting. The map also showed a campground there. With a bit of online research before leaving Moab, I found the BLM web page describing the Canyon Rims Recreation Area. It seemed like this would be worth one night.

The Hatch Point campground is about 25 miles from US 191, first on good paved road (the Needles Overlook road) and then well-graded gravel road (the Anticline Overlook road). It's a small campground, nine sites with pit toilets and water, and it was very quiet when I was there; only 2 other sites occupied, one by a couple from Durango with a Scamp trailer of their own. Site #1 has great views.

I drove out to the Anticline Overlook and Minor Overlook, and oohed and aahed over the views there.

The BLM information sign mentioned a hiking trail, so I figured I'd better check that out. The Trough Springs trail is a down-and-back-up trail, 2.5 miles each way. The total descent is 1100' but the majority of that comes in the last mile as the trail descends a steep rockfall section of the canyon.

At the end of the descent is Trough Springs, a pretty oasis. From Trough Springs it is a mile or so down to the Kane Springs 4WD road (accessible from Moab). The Trough Springs trail was well-cairned but it didn't appear to get much use at all. I didn't see any recent tire tracks at the trailhead, or any recent footprints on trail except for one set of tracks down at the very bottom by the springs. It had been rainy the previous two days, so that had reset the track-meter as it were.

Trough Springs GPS log and pictures at

The next morning I rode the mountain bike out to the Canyonlands Overlook, about a 13-mile roundtrip from the Anticline road. The Canyonlands Overlook road is signed as "4WD Required", which I would agree with. The first 5.5 miles are mostly easy 4WD high clearance; there is one stretch of sand about 4 miles in, maybe 100 yards long, that might be a little bit tricky. At about 5.5 miles in, there is a small turnaround area with a nice overlook to the north. Beyond that point is technical 4WD, not suitable for normal road vehicles, but very nice intermediate mountain biking. It is about 1 mile to the Canyonlands Overlook itself; pit toilet, picnic table, and more killer views...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Klondike Bluffs

After six nights of boondocking in the Scamp, and two weeks total traveling, I was ready for a couple of nights in civilization -- restaurants, laundromats, grocery stores, liquor stores, the whole nine yards. Also, one of my hiking shoes was blowing apart after many miles of use, so I had some shopping to do. The weather was deteriorating as well, so it was excellent timing to be a townie for a day or two.

I headed for Moab and signed in for 2 nights at the Canyonlands Campground. It's a well-kept RV park right in town, practically across the street from the brewpub and a few blocks walk to any of the downtown restaurants and bars; perfect. Their rates are a few dollars higher than the places on the edge of town, but I thought the location was worth the premium.

After an afternoon of retail therapy and watching the clothes go round, the next day I was ready to get outside. This being Moab, the only self-respecting option was to go mountain biking. Jill mentioned the Klondike Bluffs trail, said she had really enjoyed it; that was recommendation enough for me.

The trailhead for Klondike Bluffs is about 15 miles north of town, just short of the airport. The (very old) bike trail guide that I had made it sound like the turn off the highway was a bit tricky to find. Well, not anymore; there are huge signs on the highway for the Klondike Bluffs trailhead as well as the other popular trailheads in the area. There is a parking area right at the highway, but the real trailhead is about 2.5 miles east on a dirt road. The weather was still cool and scattered showery, when I got to the trailhead I sat in the truck and waited out one squall. The skies looked reasonable behind that one, so I unloaded the bike and started pedaling.

The trail is about 10 miles out-and-back, much of it on easy-to-intermediate slickrock. I hadn't done any slickrock riding to speak of, so this was a new adventure and quite a treat. I was really enjoying having a full-suspension bike!

The pot of gold at the end of this rainbow is a short hike (no bikes) inside the Arches NP boundary to a nice overlook of the north end of the park.

By the time I got back to the truck, the next rain squall held off just long enough for me to stow the bike and the rest of my gear; perfect timing. Back to Moab, and I felt like I'd earned pizza and beer for dinner.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Crack Canyon

Hmmm, this might be a new favorite in the San Rafael Swell. Considering that the competition includes Little Wild Horse and Bell, and Ding and Dang, that's saying something.

According to Michael Kelsey's book, Crack Canyon can be done as a 25 km loop with Chute Canyon. It was a very windy day out in the open terrain, so I figured that connecting the bottoms of the two canyons would be an unpleasant sandblasting experience. I opted to just do Crack Canyon from the top. The trailhead (well-marked) is 4.2 miles on the Behind-The-Reef road.

With 4WD high clearance you could drive another 0.8 mile or so to some nice primitive camping areas; beyond this point vehicles are not allowed.

The canyon gradually tightens up. There are several sets of narrows, with accompanying dryfall and chokestone problems. The hardest one is about an hour from the trailhead; some people can get up and down past the chokestone but it was a little bit more than I wanted to tackle by myself. As I went back up-canyon into the sun to eat lunch, I noticed the bypass route!

Eventually the canyon starts to open up again as you get down onto the valley floor. I went as far as the first side wash, and hiked a quarter-mile or so up that way just to see what was there.

Here is the bypass route (from the top) for the hardest narrows section. Go back up-canyon, back up out of the narrows about 150 yards or so, the canyon opens up. The wash makes a sharp right turn (almost 90 degrees), at the outer apex of the corner there is an 8-foot wide crack system that goes up as high as you can see. Scramble up the rockfall at the bottom of the crack to get onto the first ledge on the right. There are a few cairns here, I didn't see them the first time past but once I realized I needed a bypass I was able to find them. Coming back up-canyon, the cairns for the bypass are very obvious.

This is a popular place; on a sunny (and windy!) afternoon in early May, I saw 7 other parties in here. According to Kelsey's book, ATVs can use Chute Canyon so it is not quite as idyllic a place; I'll save that one for another day.

GPS log and photos at

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Tomsich Butte

I was a bit tired after yesterday, from walking through all that sand in Wild Horse Creek. Other than a short excursion back up Wild Horse Creek to find the pictographs, a road trip is what I had in mind.  I drove up North Temple Wash, a scenic drive also known as Emery County 1013. Two-wheel drive, high clearance, that goes up to an old mining area. There are some campsites along this road, I wouldn't take my trailer back in here but some other people took theirs.

Next on the list was a longer excursion into the San Rafael Swell. I wanted to see the Reds Canyon area, and Tomsich Butte, and whatever else appeared along the way. From Taylor Flat I took the McKay Flat road (very smooth, wide open vistas) and then headed toward Tomsich Butte and Muddy Creek. The road from McKay Flat over to Tomsich Butte has some spectacular views of Tomsich Butte and Reds Canyon.

Tomsich Butte is the site of an old mining operation, and there are several nice primitive campsites along Muddy Creek. This is a pretty remote place, as places go; I could easily spend a couple days here hanging out. There were three parties camped here on a sunny Saturday in early May.

Muddy Creek deserves its name, I would definitely bring my own water rather than having to settle that stuff out. That's Hondu Arch in the distance...

I went out via the road through Reds Canyon. It is spectacular. Much of it is bumpy 2WD in a dry wash. Huge vistas, big rock walls, and buttes. You could get a trailer back in here but I personally wouldn't be happy about it.

Since this is Utah, family is important. Here is a picture of Family Butte...

Friday, May 6, 2011

Wild Horse Window

That's the view from the parking area. I planned to hike up Wild Horse Creek, not to be confused with Little Wild Horse. The guidebook I had showed a cave slightly north of the creek wash, and it turned out to be easily visible from where I parked. Okay, that might be interesting, so with no other information I forged ahead on a well-used trail, first in the sand and then well-cairned on the slickrock. Before long, I came to the cave itself, a double-cavern sort of thing that looked really nice.

But, wait, there's more! The right side cavern has a skylight! Cool!

I looked this up online, the usual name is "Wild Horse Window". That seems a bit lame to me, I talked to a few other hikers who called it the "Skylight Cave". Okay, whatever, it is a really cool place and only a mile from the trailhead. According on online sources, the roof opening is 35 feet by 22 feet.

After visiting the cave, I went back down to the wash, almost to the trailhead, in order to go up Wild Horse Creek. It is about three miles up to the top, where you can drive to the top of the wash via the Behind-The-Reef Road. Most of the walking is in loose sand, and does get tiring. There are three sets of narrows; the first one you can walk through, the others have easy bypasses around some more difficult dryfalls.

There are supposed to be pictographs and petroglyphs in this canyon. I didn't see any of them the first time through, so I went back the next day determined to find the "best" set of pictographs, that are located near the bottom of the canyon. I did find them, finally. Going up-canyon, you come to the first set of narrows (easily walkable) about 5 minutes into the wash. Above these narrows, go about 10-15 minutes walking, on the right (east/north) side of the canyon there is an amphitheater of noticeably whiter rock. Above the main white rim there is a noticeable cavern in the orange sandstone. Below the white rim, there are two distinct chambers. In the left hand chamber, below the upper cavern, the pictographs are visible with the naked eye but take binoculars for a better view. It looked like a tedious climb, maybe 100' vertical, on steep slickrock so I didn't go all the way up.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Double Ding Dang

Double because I basically did each one twice. Ding and Dang Canyons are two pretty slot canyons in the San Rafael Swell, easily accessible about 1.5 miles past the Little Wild Horse Canyon trailhead (high clearance 2WD needed).

The guidebook I was using (Michael Kelsey, Hiking and Exploring Utah's San Rafael Swell) said that the usual route was to go up Ding Canyon and then down Dang Canyon, and that you must have 2 people and maybe a short rope to descend a 3-meter chokestone and dryfall in Dang Canyon. I was solo, so I figured I would go as far as I could safely, and back out from there.

From the trailhead it took about 20 minutes of easy walking in an open wash to reach the bottom junction of Ding and Dang Canyons.

Ding Canyon is indeed a very pretty canyon with several sets of narrows sections. There is one section with two larger plunge pools (both of them keepers!) that are bypassed on the right/east side. A couple of the obstacles were challenging enough that I took off my pack and set it up above the chokestone; none required any roping of packs, but I was glad to have some basic climbing skills.

After a little over an hour I reached the top of Ding Canyon, and it took 20 minutes to follow a well-defined trail over to the top of Dang Canyon.

The first obstacle going down Dang Canyon is an 8-foot dryfall; there was a bolt and anchor in the chockstone. This seemed unnecessary, as it was easy to bypass this on the right (west) side.
The next obstacle was easy to bypass on the left (east) by walking along the ledges. Finally I came to the 3-meter drop. There was an anchor visible, with a carabiner and some webbing. There was no way that I was going to try that one on my own though.
Soooo, I turned around, went back up Dang, over to Ding, down Ding, over to the bottom of Dang, and started up Dang Canyon from the bottom. Some hikers I met in Ding Canyon said they'd heard there was a lot of water in Dang Canyon. I don't know if it was a  lot  of water, but I rapidly got tired of bridging, turned around and went back out the bottom of Dang as well. I left about a quarter-mile of Dang Canyon

These are indeed very pretty canyons with nice narrows sections, easily accessible if you have a 2WD high clearance vehicle or the energy for an extra 3 miles of hiking from well-maintained road. Little Wild Horse and Bell Canyons are the canonical examples, but even Ding Canyon by itself is a nice introduction.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Horseshoe Canyon

After four nights of dry camping at the Cedar Mesa campground, I stopped in Hanksville for gas and groceries and then spent a night at Goblin Valley State Park in order to tank up the trailer on fresh water and unload some, um, dirty water. I did a little bit of biking just to get some exercise.

The next day I headed out to Horseshoe Canyon, in Canyonlands National Park on the east side of the Colorado River. I knew it would be a long drive, like thirty miles; what I didn't know is that it would all be very dusty washboarded dirt and sand, and that there were almost no places at all to pull off with a camp trailer. Sorry about having to replace those rivets, Scamp.

So after almost two hours of driving from the highway, I reached the Horseshoe Canyon trailhead. The last mile into the trailhead is noticeably rougher, I left the trailer out on the road. There is camping at the trailhead, I could have got the trailer back in there but would not have been happy about the experience.

The main attraction at Horseshoe Canyon is the pictographs; a 6.5 mile round trip hike to some of the best known examples of Barrier Canyon Style pictographs. The "Great Gallery" is indeed spectacular. Unfortunately, somebody left my camera in the trailer instead of in the truck where I could find it, so I don't have any pictures.  Here is somebody else's web page about Horseshoe Canyon. I spent about 3.5 hours hiking in and out, and sightseeing in amazement.

Horseshoe Canyon and neighboring Bluejohn Canyon are the area where Aron Ralston had his harrowing survival experience, as made famous in the movie 127 Hours. I thought it was interesting to note the warning signs on the BLM signboard.

After almost sixty miles of washboard dirt road, I ended up camping at a smoothed out transfer area about two miles from the paved highway. It was nice and quiet, I just wished I'd left the trailer there to begin with.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

more Waterpocket Fold hiking

Fair weather had returned, and after a day of mostly driving it was time to get back to exploring the east side of Capitol Reef National Park.

First on the list was Headquarters Canyon. This is a short, one mile out, one mile back, into a pretty narrow canyon south of the Burr Trail road. The trailhead is right at where the cutoff road to The Post trailhead leaves the Notom-Bullfrog road.

This is a very pretty little canyon with some nice narrows; a good introduction to the Waterpocket Fold for light-duty hikers. The main disadvantage is that it is a long way from the highway (about 35 miles from U-24). I turned around when I came to a small dryfall; it didn't look that hard, but I was having trouble getting good traction to chimney my way up. I didn't want to push my luck, especially solo, and I had other places to go as well.

Headquarters Canyon GPS log and more pictures (

Next on the list was Surprise Canyon. The trailhead is only a few miles north of the trailhead for Headquarters Canyon. Surprise Canyon is no surprise, you can see it from the road, it is much the same as Headquarters Canyon; a mile out, a mile back. I think Headquarters Canyon is a little bit prettier.  There is one spot that requires some difficult scrambling, but there is an easy bypass about 40 yards downcanyon on the south side.  I stopped when I came to a huge rockfall that I wasn't interested in tackling.

GPS log and pictures for Surprise Canyon (

Finally, I had some unfinished business in Lower Muley Twist Canyon. A couple days earlier I did the loop from The Post trailhead; but that left 4 miles of canyon between the Burr Trail Road and The Post cutoff trail.

The last time I drove the Burr Trail switchbacks was probably ten years ago. That was when I hiked Upper Muley Twist Canyon. Back then, there were huge ruts and holes in the corners; it was, ahem, interesting driving it with 4WD low range. This time, the road was well-graded and much easier driving; still steep and big-time exposure, but doable with a passenger car. I was glad to have my truck though.

The upper 4 miles of Lower Muley Twist (upper lower muley twist, that seems to contradict itself) are easy walking in the canyon wash. I think the lower 8 miles have better scenery, but they require more of a commitment to get to. Going in from The Post trailhead is about an hour of uphill, I think it would be better to just go in from the Burr Trail whenever possible. If I wanted to do the loop, and I had two cars, I would go in at the Burr Trail road and come out at The Post. With only one car, just go in and out at the Burr Trail road; Halls Creek isn't that interesting. Just sayin', ya know?
GPS log for Lower Muley Twist Canyon from Burr Trail (