register help

The Golden Cathedral Trail, UT

no permit
42 3 0
Guide 3 Triplogs  0 Topics
Rated  Favorite Wish List UT > Southwest
5 of 5 by 2
clicktap icons for details
Difficulty 4 of 5
Route Finding 3 of 5
Distance One Way 4.5 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,621 feet
Elevation Gain 1,214 feet
Avg Time One Way 4 - 6 hrs
Kokopelli Seeds 8.55
Interest Off Trail Hiking & Perennial Creek
Backpack Yes & Connecting
feature photo
Photos Viewed All Mine Following
12  2018-05-04 Steph_and_Blake
12  2017-11-25
Neon Canyon
18  2017-11-25
Neon Canyon
Author Steph_and_Blake
author avatar Guides 98
Routes 59
Photos 2,511
Trips 175 map ( 749 miles )
Age 70 Male Gender
Location Grand Junction, CO
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
Expand Map
Preferred   Oct, Apr, May, Mar → Early
Seasons   Early Spring to Late Autumn
Sun  6:07am - 6:31pm
2 Alternative
enjoy as a backpacking adventure
by Steph_and_Blake

We were told that these arches are the most photographed of all those in Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. Given the many beautiful and awe-inspiring formations in the Monument, these would really have to be something to behold.

There is not a maintained trail for this hike. You must have a good map and equally good map-reading and route-finding skills. We saw only 2 other groups during the hike, so you can't rely on bumping into more knowledgeable hikers for guidance.

The traditional approach from Egypt trailhead (off Hole in the Rock Road, southwest of Escalante) is to drop into Fence Canyon and take it to its junction with the Escalante River. From there you head down river and make 5 crossings to reach Neon Canyon coming in from the east (left).

To save time and eliminate 4 of the crossings, you can instead go overland and make a beeline for the river bank directly across from Neon Canyon. Given the rain and snow that the area had experienced in the past few days, we chose to go for the "fewer crossings" option.

Regardless of the approach you decide on, you’re immediately faced with the challenge of getting yourself off the rim and down the somewhat steep slickrock. Take a moment to look for a path that seems do-able to you. But, before that, take some time to consult your map and memorize the landmarks that will guide you to Neon Canyon. Having done so, carefully zig-zag your way down to the flat(ish) area. Once down, turn around and imprint on your mind the image of where you started.

At this point your goal is to stay on slickrock as much as possible as the intermittent sand is deep and soft. At the same time, try to keep from unnecessarily ascending/descending too much. There's still a lot of ground to cover and another steep slope to go down so avoid wasting precious energy.

Eventually, after your eastward traverse of the plateau, you'll come to another rim. Your goal at this point is to find a way off the rim and down to the river. You'll see several paths to choose from, with one going down steep slickrock, another down a crack in the sandstone, and others to the south with a more gentle descent. Pick the one that's right for you. As you enjoy the soft, forgiving sand that helps to speed your way down try not to think about the sandy slog you'll endure on the way back.

Upon reaching the river bed pick up one of a few trails all leading to the same river crossing that will deliver you to the Neon Canyon. If you don't have hiking sticks, grab a sturdy dead cottonwood branch to help you keep your balance in the water.

After crossing the river, continue east up-canyon to a very obvious dead-end. Here you'll find a large pool of water, hanging gardens, and three arches cut into the sandstone by countless gallons of water. Drop a stone into the pool and take pleasure in the ripples reflected on the walls.

Rest a bit, hydrate yourself and fuel up, for you'll need the energy (both physical and mental) for the long and steep trek back to the starting point. Like us, as you hike out, you might think this hike would probably be better enjoyed as a backpacking adventure.

Check out the Triplogs.

This is a moderately difficult hike.

Leave No Trace and +Add a Triplog after your hike to support this local community.

2018-05-10 Steph_and_Blake

    One-Way Notice
    This hike is listed as One-Way.

    When hiking several trails on a single "hike", log it with a generic name that describes the hike. Then link the trails traveled, check out the example.
    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
    The Golden Cathedral Trail
    rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5rated 5
    On the third day of our four trip, we made the long drive to the Egypt TH. The ten mile road is a bit rough and a high clearance vehicle is a must. Don’t take a passenger car here.

    We hit the trail around 10:20am and started the hike. The route makes a steep drop off the rim as you head east for Neon Canyon. I didn’t do any research for this hike but thankfully Karl did. He had a GPS route that included a direct route that leads straight towards Neon Canyon. This turned out to be a great option. The overland route follows a defined use trail through a mix of deep sand and sandstone. We continued on and eventually dropped to the Escalante River where we made our first crossing in knee deep water. Once over the Escalante we found ourselves at the mouth of Neon Canyon. From there it’s roughly one mile of easy hiking to the Golden Cathedral. This section went by fast and next thing we know we’re there. The Golden Cathedral is just spectacular! The rock rises up and wraps around forming a ceiling with two holes. Words can’t describe how amazing this place is! The only way it can be better is if a group rappelled down.

    After we took a break at the Golden Cathedral, we started the hike out and followed the standard hiking route. The route heads north and follows the Escalante River. There were five wet crossings through the cold water that was mostly knee deep. One spot came up to our thighs but wasn’t too bad. After the crossings we turned west and started the hike up Fence Canyon. After a mile or so we left the main trail with the plan to check out the canyon. We continued on a bit but our use trail was swallowed up by brush so we decided to cut our losses short and we returned to the main trail. The rest of the hike out was uneventful and we were back to the Egypt TH around 3pm.

    The Golden Cathedral is truly magnificent! It wasn’t in our original plan but I’m glad we changed our itinerary and made it happen. It was the perfect day hike! Afterward, we returned to the Hole in the Rock Road and found a campsite near the Zebra Slot TH. We’re doing one more hike the next morning and then returning to Phoenix.

    Permit $$
    no fees or permits reported

    if incorrect tell us about it

    Map Drive
    High Clearance possible when dry

    To hike
    From Escalante, UT, drive east on UT-12 for 5 miles. Turn right onto Hole in the Rock Road. Head south on Hole in the Rock for 16.5 miles. Turn left onto Egypt Road (BLM 240). Drive on Egypt Road for 9.5 miles to the trailhead. The mileage doesn't add up to much, but it took us 1:15 hours to get from pavement (UT-12) to the trailhead.
    page created by HAZ_Hikebot on May 10 2018 8:43 am
    3 pack - loud whistle
    safety first
    help comment issue

    end of page marker