Hayduke Trail: Willis Creek to Arizona Stateline

Ascend the Pink Cliffs of Bryce Canyon, then work down through canyons of many colors toward Arizona.

Also in Utah, United States of America

Hiking Severe

Distance
105 km
Ascent
1.5 km
Descent
1.8 km
Duration
1 day +
Low Point
1.4 km
High Point
2.7 km
Gradient
11˚
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Hayduke Trail: Willis Creek to Arizona Stateline Map

Description

From Skutumpah Road, a jeep road follows the upper part of Willis Creek, now an ordinary wash in a valley instead of a slot canyon. There are some private inholdings along the creek, so be sure to stick to the road and respect any property signs. The route then takes Agua Canyon, a steeper valley that harbors dense conifer forest. The backdrop is Bryce Canyon’s famous Pink Cliffs, which appear as a blend of many warm colors crowned in green trees.

Soon you’ll meet Under the Rim Trail in the national park, which is popular with backpackers. This trail dips in and out of several drainages spilling away from the rim. It’s s sandy surface in a sunny forest of old-growth ponderosa with pockets of aspen and spruce-fir. From clearings, you’ll get views to the countless hoodoos that comprise the cliffs above.

The trail eventually gains a shoulder of the plateau, climbs it to get above the rim, then continues toward Rainbow Point, a popular overlook along the main park road. You can go there if you like, but the Hayduke just misses it by taking the Riggs Spring Trail to descend another arm of the plateau and traverse its south flanks, back beneath the cliffs.

This trail leaves the park and leads to a dirt road which follows Podunk Creek then Bullrush Gorge into the broad, open valley where Skutumpah Road runs. Leave the roads for the sandy wash on the other side of Skutumpah, and continue for several miles as different washes converge in a deepening gorge where you may find water. After a brief section of narrows, the walls open up into the valley of Park Wash, with the sheer-walled No Mans Mans Mesa looming ahead.

A two-track leads through this broadening valley of incised washes and sandy, vegetated hills. At some point, the road enters the wash and you must plod on loose substrate once again. Soon the valley empties onto a lower expanse of the plateau, leaving the White Cliffs of the Grand Staircase behind. The wash continues, and you’ll find another dirt road that continues to Highway 89.

Past the highway, the wash cuts a surprisingly deep, if brief, gorge through gray limestone—a preview of geology to come on the next section of the Hayduke. It then empties into a perpendicular valley where House Rock Valley Road Crosses. Red hills form the opposite rim, and the wash finds a gap through them.

On the other side is a wonderland of sandstone creations. First, you’ll walk among whorled domes and striated slopes of orange and white. Then the wash carves a slot where red and black-streaked walls rise on either side, undulating in arms-length opposition from each other. This is Buckskin Gulch, but only the uppermost portion of it. The most impressive narrows await on a side trip down canyon. The Hayduke exits through the arm of Wire Pass, where you’ll see some obvious and impressive petroglyphs then pass the entrance to The Wave, another tempting side trip but one that requires a lottery permit. Meet the road again and follow it briefly to the trailhead of the Arizona Trail, and the end of this section.

Sources: http://www.hayduketrail.org/TheRoute.html http://www.hayduketrail.org/Updates.html https://www.little-package.com/blog/2017/11/hayduke-trail-tips https://kateontheroadlesstraveled.com/2016/05/16/under-the-rim-trail-bryce-canyon/ https://marmotsadventures.com/2017/05/02/town-lingering-an-introduction-to-buckskin-gulch/ https://caltopo.com/m/5J0S https://caltopo.com/m/HVQD

Difficulty

Severe

Hiking challenging trails where simple scrambling, with the occasional use of the hands, is a distinct possibility. The trails are often filled with all manner of obstacles both small and large, and the hills are very steep. Obstacles and challenges are often unexpected and can be unpredictable.

Medium Exposure

2 out of 4

The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.

Remoteness

3 out of 4

Little chance of being seen or helped in case of an accident.

Best time to visit

May, June, July, August, September, October, November

Features

  • Wildlife
  • Historical
  • Picturesque
  • Wild flowers
  • Water features
  • Forestry or heavy vegetation

Guidebooks in this area