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

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