Ruined towers around a canyon head
Cave Towers, sometimes called Seven Towers, is located around the head of Cave Towers Canyon, a short but deep tributary of Mule Canyon, south of UT Route 95. Cave Towers is one of those ruins that everyone in the area knows about, but isn't really on many maps. One reason may be its dirt-and-slickrock access road. A half mile of bad road for a .4 mile hike may not seem worth it to some. It can be found, however, on the Grand Gulch Plateau Trail's Illustrated map, and there are at least two guidebooks I am aware of that mention it. So word is getting out.
Cave Towers exhibits some striking similarities between it and Hovenweep National Monument, to the east of Comb Ridge. Both have large towers perched at the heads of canyons, and both have springs protected near the head of the canyon. While Comb Ridge is generally accepted to be a major cultural barrier between the Kayenta and Mesa Verde branches of the Anasazi, some interchange did occur. The closer you are to Comb Ridge, the more Mesa Verde-like, generally, the architecture. This seems to be the case here. Starting from the slickrock apron above the canyon head, there are two options. There isn't an established trail, really, but some cattle tracks are present, so try and stay in them while hiking in areas of cryptobiotic soil. Towers are present on either side of the canyon's head, with the best preserved examples being on the south/west side, to your right as you're approaching the canyon. A couple of these towers are visible from the slickrock area.
This set of ruins lays very close to a section of private property, as well as the highway. For these reasons, there are not many artifacts to be found - other, less scrupulous folks have carried away lots of it. In addition, Cave Towers was excavated early in the 20th century. The archaeologist's site number is painted on the cliff face behind a cliff dwelling on the northeast cliff face. After exploring the south/west portion of the canyon rim, take the opportunity to cross back around the head and check out the remains of the towers on the eastern side of the canyon. For the adventurous, you can clamber down to the next terrace of the canyon and gain access to the spring below a pourover. I'd suggest bringing your own water, but there is usually some dripping here, and can be drank if treated.
While this hike is only 0.4 miles, and the road is High Clearance, if you have a smaller car (like our Jetta) or want to extend the hike, you can do so easily by parking at the old well head, just past the gate on the nice section of dirt road, and hiking down to the canyon. This adds a mile total to the trip distance, 0.5 miles each way.
Check out the Triplogs.
Gate Policy: If a gate is closed upon arrival, leave it closed after you go through. If it is open, leave it open. Leaving a closed gate open may put cattle in danger. Closing an open gate may cut them off from water. Please be respectful, leave gates as found.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.