brand spankin' 1948 new
A short, but steep hike to the Great Gallery.
The original Deadman's Trail, located south of the "official" trail, is a crack in the Navajo sandstone that allowed access to the bottom of Horseshoe Canyon (previously named Barrier Canyon). The original route was employed by Native Americans, cowboys, ranchers, outlaws and sheepherders. Supposedly a rider's horse reared up and fell back on him...Hence the name of the trail.
The new trail was built in 1948 by Basque sheepherders to get their sheep to the perennial spring below. Extensive blasting and rock construction went into building the trail.
The hike begins just outside the park boundary at an information kiosk. The first 0.6 or so of a mile is along a well-beaten path across a relatively flat field. At the edge of the field you come to the first series of switchbacks, but nothing too difficult or strenuous. Past the switchbacks you come to bare sandstone and the route-finding becomes a little more challenging, so pay attention for cairns. You may find yourself dropping down onto your behind to scootch down some of the more steeply sloped rock. Do whatever makes you feel safe!
Once off the slickrock, you'll come to a set of stairs that leads to the second (shorter) set of switchbacks that will take you to the canyon floor. From there it's easy cruising down-canyon (to your right) to the Great Gallery. Expect to spend at least a good half or or more at the Great Gallery to take in all the details.
This hike only describes getting to the Great Gallery, but there's plenty more to see further down canyon. You might even want to wander up-canyon to see if there are any surprises to behold.
Return the way you came.
While there is often water in the canyon, a herd of mules now occupy the area and their "presence" is seen everywhere. Take all the water you need (and more). There is no shade on the steep section.
Camping is not allowed in the canyon within the park boundary. There are several camping spots on the BLM land just southeast of the trailhead.
Check out the Triplog.