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This is likely a great time to hike this trail!  Check out "Prefered" months below, keep in mind this is an estimate.

Owl Creek - Fish Creek Loop, UT

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Guide 2 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List UT > Southeast
4 of 5 by 1
HAZ reminds you to respect the ruins. Please read the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 & Ruins Etiquette
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Difficulty 3 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance Loop 16.3 miles
Trailhead Elevation 6,155 feet
Elevation Gain 1,315 feet
Accumulated Gain 1,929 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 10-12 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 25.95
Interest Off Trail Hiking, Ruins, Historic, Seasonal Waterfall, Perennial Waterfall & Seasonal Creek
Backpack Yes
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
41  2012-11-06 MtnBart01
22  2011-05-27 Sarae
Author MtnBart01
author avatar Guides 3
Routes 24
Photos 3,484
Trips 883 map ( 5,489 miles )
Age 50 Male Gender
Location Chipita Park, Co
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   May, Oct, Sep, Apr
Seasons   Late Spring to Early Autumn
Sun  5:59am - 6:30pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Flora Nearby
Geology Nearby
Named place Nearby
Archy falls and ruins sandstone
by MtnBart01

Likely In-Season!
Overview: Grand Gulch Cedar Mesa area has long been a popular area for hiking. The rugged scenery canyons geology and ruins are just a few of the resources that make area so popular with hikers. In fact, it has one of the largest concentration of Ancestral Puebloan (Term used in the Literature in the informational ammo box at one of the sites) archeological sites. There are options available for multi-day backpacking trips in Grand Gulch or day hikes there as well. This particular loop gives you something in between with much more than just dwellings to see. It also gives you options of multi-day exploring as well.

Warning: In researching for this trip I read several other trip logs on-line warning that this hike should only be undertaken by advanced hikers. I do believe one should be prepared and do their homework. Taking the trip in either by Owl or Fish Creek is doable and the cairns along the trail are numerous getting into and out of the canyon. The trails are relatively easy to follow, however, there are numerous trails not all of which go where you want to go. There was quite a bit of difference between the actual trail I followed and what my topo had marked as trail. Also, there are several side canyons some with trails leading into them. Route finding skills beyond spotting cairns is necessary especially if going down fish creek and exiting Owl Creek as there are numerous dry falls that the trail skirts by going into side canyons for small distances. Be prepared with food and water. This is a primitive area that is not as popular as some of the trail heads in the area where there are backpackers and day hikers accessing the same sites.

Hike: The loop can be hiked either down Fish Creek and up Owl or vice versa. There is a down climb into Fish Creek that some will find easier to lower their pack with a rope. I managed, but it was awkward and probably not doable if you carry a large heavy pack or don't like climbing. I read it is easy to miss the point where you head up out of Fish Creek which is part of the reason I did it in this direction, but am happy to report that there is a metal sign in a narrow section of the canyon by a pool and hanging garden that points up the canyon. I'm sure it's possible to miss this sign, but if you are able to miss it you probably have other more pressing issues. :)It's personal choice really. Fish Creek is scenic. There are a couple of unnamed smaller arches and a couple of dwellings that can be spotted with cheap binoculars. Owl creek has Neville's Arch (Which is about 2 miles from the confluence) and several dwellings including one in an alcove just as you enter the canyon. It also has several slick rock dry falls and at least one fall that has regular water running. I found the scenery better in Owl canyon. Most of the dwellings are high up in Owl if your into that kind of stuff like me. Anyway, a cheap set of binoculars will serve you well. I spotted 6-7 during the loop. I'm sure there are quite a bit more. This hike could be done as a day hike for fit individuals, but is usually done as an overnight or even a couple nights. Lower Fish Creek is wider and has at least 4 dwellings marked on topos the canyon is wider and farming was done in the canyon so the dwellings are easier to visit. Also, McCloyd Canyon is about a mile below the confluence of Owl Creek/Fish Creek and has some exploring options as well. Off season permitting can be done for day use and overnight at the trail head.6/16-8/31 and 11/1-2/28 so get the getting while the getting is good! It is worth noting it was about 10 degrees cooler at the confluence than the forecast and probably hotter than forecast in the Summer.

Water Sources: There are a couple of springs in Owl Creek and several pools that have to be perennial based on their current size. I was told there was water running by the ranger station in Owl and not really any mention of water in Fish. This is the other reason I went in Fish. I was surprised upon getting to the bottom of Fish by the trail sign that there is a large pool with hanging gardens and water dripping into said pool. There really is no water for the last couple of miles in either canyon leading to the confluence. Check with the ranger station as I'm sure there are less water options in the summer.

Camping: Numerous camping spots and trees at the confluence. I found better sites just above the confluence in Owl than Fish. I found some trees in the lower confluence closer to the down canyon exploring. Enjoy!

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2012-11-08 MtnBart01
    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.

    Most recent Triplog Review
    Owl Creek - Fish Creek Loop
    rating optionrated 4rated 4rated 4rated 4
    Exploratory hike with ABC. Definitely a trip for experienced backpackers and those with no fear of heights. 100% agree with the advice to go down Owl and up Fish. That last scramble up from Fish Creek is fun, but not something I'd want to go down. Lots of flowers blooming everywhere. Water at the confluence was not awesome. There was a decent pool about .25 mile downstream and we camped about a 10 minute walk away. The wind was something else this weekend. Sand ended up in everything. The trail was slow going on the way in along owl creek. This was due to a combination of looking for ruins and just trying to find the best route through the vegetation and rocks at the bottom of the canyon. There were actually quite a few cairns once ya start looking. Once we got to the confluence, the route got even more faint because it was covered in tumbleweeds. Gotta love Russian thistle :( We ended up deciding to head out after only one night to get away from the wind and all of the stickers in our legs from the tumbleweeds. This was a good choice since the sun beat on us the whole way out along Fish Creek and the hike seemed to take forever. Route is in pretty much the same condition as Owl Creek except with fewer cairns to point the way. I think this would be a fun trip to do in the Fall. Definitely need to get over to Grand Gulch, too.

    Permit $$
    The phone number for the permit desk is 435 587 1510. Day hiking permits are $2.00 per person per day. A seven day use permit is available for $5.00 per person. An annual day hiking permit is available for $20.00.

    When paying for your permit at the Kane Gulch contact station, please pay by check or credit card (not cash).

    Groups of 8 to 12 must reserve a permit in advance through the Monticello Field Office. DO NOT show up at the trailhead, the contact station or the Monticello Field Office with a group of 8 or more and expect to get a permit.

    Cost - There is an $8.00 per person (per trip, not per night) fee for overnight use of all of the Cedar Mesa canyons from March 1 - June15 and from Sept 1 - Oct 31.

    Map Drive
    FR / Dirt Road / Gravel - Car Okay

    To hike
    I used the Google Locater at the bottom of the description page and it got me right to the trail head. The road is clearly marked with Owl Creek Fish Creek trail head. The road is Long Spike Road which is after Snow Flat Road heading from the Moki Dugway.
    page created by HAZ_Hikebot on Nov 08 2012 11:20 am
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