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You don't have to be a Knitter to do these needles
I was told that the Needles District was more scenic than Island in the Sky and less visited since you have to drive 25 miles off the main road to get to it. So on my recent vacation in Utah, I just had to see it for myself. It is a long drive off from UTAH 191, but the drive in is terrific, and while we wanted to make several stops on the way in, we wanted to get to Squaw Flat Campground ASAP to find a spot since there are no reservations. It is strictly FCFS (first come, first served), and upon arriving, we found out that 11 out of 16 sites open. We got a great campsite..look in campground B, sites #19,20 &r 21, set back on a little cul-de-sac... very quiet and removed from all the RV sites. We took #20 and camped next to Joe from SLC. Joe hikes here frequently and told us about this hike which was on my agenda anyway. So it seems I made a good choice based on my research.
You take Elephant Hill Road, which the NPS rates as a rough but graded road to Elephant Hill Trailhead for a distance of 2 miles. These people have never been on the Tonto National Forest roads since I tooled along at 30 MPH, kickin' up a cloud of dust. This road was smooth! You get to Elephant Hill TH, and there is plenty of parking at the Trailhead~~~Elephant Hill Road continues from here but is strictly a 4WD road.
From the well-marked TH, you take a series of rock steps up to the mesa... nothing strenuous and then walk across some slick rock along a well cairned "trail". Slickrock trails are always a little tricky, but this one is well cairned. It was pretty much up and down for a mile or so across the slickrock until you come to a BIG wash and decisions... Druid Arch? Elephant Canyon? We decided to ford on to Elephant Canyon, and not far from the wash, we started the descent into Elephant canyon and up the other side. This was SWEET! Once you trek on another 2 miles, you come to a trail junction sign for Devil's Kitchen, but we continued straight on into Chesler Park. The needles showed their beauty here, and we hiked up to a summit where we had some much-needed shade and a terrific breeze. After peaking on the saddle, the trail was all sand (and I HATE hiking in sand), but we went a little way up here before we said "FORGET hiking in all this sand", turned around, and came back the way we hiked in.
Elephant Canyon is gorgeous. This entire hike was lovely. There are too many trail options to be considered in this post for a day hike, but we took the trails recommended to us by Joe from Salt Lake City, who has been here many times before. THANKS JOE! You rock!! I was immensely impressed with Canyonlands over all the other places I visited this year in Utah. I definitely want to come back to this beautiful area.
This was one awesome hike.
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.
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.