3 - 4
FATMAP difficulty grade
The loop described here goes clockwise, up Lost Canyon and down Squaw Canyon, but you could just as well go the opposite way.
A slight advantage to the clockwise direction comes in navigating the sandstone ledges in Lost Canyon; the route is a bit easier to discern in the uphill direction than downhill.
You might also choose the direction of travel based on where you want to camp.
Squaw Canyon and Lost Canyon each have a couple of designated sites, available by [permit](https://www.nps.gov/cany/planyourvisit/backcountrypermits.htm).
Sites in Lost Canyon are generally preferred, so reserve early to ensure getting the spot you want. The hike begins at the popular Squaw Flat Trailhead, where one trail leads toward both canyons, and later forks to go into each of them.
The initial stretch is through sandy flats and sagebrush meadows, with a couple of short up-and-overs on sloping slickrock.
This open, arid terrain belies the oasis that is to come, because both canyons miraculously flow with water. After taking the fork to Lost Canyon, you may notice an imposing ridge of red rock rising ahead.
Sure enough, the trail runs right into this, and goes over it.
The climb starts on gently sloped slickrock, but soon meets a slanted wall, where confident foot placements are necessary to ascend.
Above that is the crest of the ridge, with phenomenal views over stone buttes and towers all around.
From there, an easy walk down the other side puts you on a broad bench above an arm of Lost Canyon.
Look for cairns that mark a contour route, then find the metal ladder affixed on a short, vertical drop.
Next, the traverse continues along a particularly narrow ledge (a bit unnerving, but safe when dry), and finally descends to the canyon floor. Back on a visible trail, you’ll walk through a brushy wash and soon reach the junction with Peekaboo Springs Trail.
Turn there to head up Lost Canyon, which soon becomes thickly forested.
Cottonwood groves and willow thickets thrive on the water that trickles year round.
Periodic floods may leave parts of the trail muddy or washed out, so it might not be all smooth walking.
The trail weaves through this lush environment, through many stone-bound twists of the canyon, and passing two comfortable backcountry campsites, before entering a narrower side canyon, where the walls close in. From there, the only way to go is up, and the trail takes a series of ramps and ledges to surmount another sandstone ridge.
It’s a bit of a scramble, but made easier by footholds cut in the rock at the steepest parts.
At the top of this section is another broad bench of solid rock, which you’ll easily contour across to reach a notch in the ridge.
On the other side is Squaw Canyon, appearing much like Lost Canyon, as another oasis of green sunk into the stone. The ledges that lead into Squaw Canyon are much easier to negotiate.
Simply follow cairns on a downward sloping route with no scrambling required.
After that, the trail through Squaw Canyon is similar to Lost Canyon, but in general even easier.
The foliage is less dense and the path is simpler to follow, though it does cross the shallow stream several times.
More or less following the creek, this trail leads eventually back to the fork with the Lost Canyon Trail, and a brief backtrack on the initial section returns to Squaw Flat. Sources: https://www.nps.gov/cany/planyourvisit/hiking.htm https://liveandlethike.com/2015/04/12/big-spring-canyon-squaw-canyon-loop-trail-canyonlands-national-park-ut/ https://www.gjhikes.com/2015/11/lost-canyon.html