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Snake Gulch to Table Rock, AZ

no permit
107 8 1
Guide 8 Triplogs  1 Topic
Rated  Favorite Wish List AZ > Northwest > Jacob Lake N
4.5 of 5 by 4
HAZ reminds you to respect the ruins. Please read the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 & Ruins Etiquette
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Difficulty 2 of 5
Route Finding 1 of 5
Distance Round Trip 12 miles
Trailhead Elevation 5,850 feet
Elevation Gain -670 feet
Avg Time Round Trip 5 hours
Kokopelli Seeds 15.35
Interest Ruins & Historic
Backpack Yes & Connecting
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Photos Viewed All Mine Following
17  2016-10-08 friendofThunderg
32  2012-05-11 squatpuke
18  2008-09-18 BelladonnaTook
17  2006-11-18 PaleoRob
10  2005-09-25 margotr
13  2003-11-07 PaleoRob
Author PaleoRob
author avatar Guides 137
Routes 111
Photos 5,253
Trips 942 map ( 2,097 miles )
Age 38 Male Gender
Location Grand Junction, CO
Historical Weather
Trailhead Forecast
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Preferred   Oct, May, Apr, Sep → Any
Seasons   Early Autumn to Late Spring
Sun  6:16am - 6:28pm
Official Route
0 Alternative
Flora Nearby
Meteorology Nearby
Culture Nearby
Gateway to Kanab Creek
by PaleoRob

Likely In-Season!
Snake Gulch is a beautiful canyon located on the Kaibab National Forest, North Kaibab Ranger District. While providing access into the famed Kanab Creek Wilderness (indeed it lays within the wilderness) and Kanab Creek, the hike from Snake Gulch to Table Rock is worthwhile in its own right, and easy backpacking trip or a dayhike.

Where the Forest Road ends is where the trail begins. There is a shade ramada with a little information about Snake Gulch, the wilderness, but not reams. There's a trail register as well as a picnic table. Park out of the cul-du-sac area, so as to not block any other vehicles that may be trying to turn around.

The trail takes off following the left hand wall of the canyon. To the right is an arroyo, between 5 and 15 feet deep, and quite close to the trail at some points. Where the canyon turns to the left, and begins bearing west, across the arroyo, is an old farmhouse. Not long after making the turn into Snake Gulch proper, you'll pass through a hiker's maze that marks the start of the Kanab Creek Wilderness.

Within the next mile or so, the arroyo disappears and the canyon bottom levels out. The trail makes some branches, but is easy to follow, as the canyon has no real side canyons until reaching Table Rock. The tumbleweed can sometimes be troubling and itchy. I recommend long pants and/or gaiters. Keep a sharp eye out for rock art and ruins! They can be found the entire length of the canyon, from the corral down past Table Rock. The rock art is spectacular in Snake Gulch, probably one of the best collections of pictographs in the state. Most of it is very old too, Anasazi Basketmaker and Fremont from the same time period. There are some newer images, from Pueblo III times, and even the occasional Paiute drawing, but the bulk (and the draw) are the very large, very old pictographs. Red was a favorite color for the ancient inhabitants of Snake Gulch, so keep your eyes peeled for splashes of red against the tan walls. These can indicate the presence of just a few little PIII humanoids, or a battery of ancient, towering figures. Keep a special eye out for "The Spacemen" and "The Couple" on your way down.

Ruins are also found in Snake Gulch, and the sharp eye can usually spot the remains of some cliff dwellings as you get closer to Table Rock.

The trail stays simply in the bottom of the canyon. Table Rock marks the confluence of Snake Gulch and a medium-sized tributary coming in from the south. At their junction, a point sticks out with a flat bench of limestone at the top - Table Rock. A very large pictograph panel, The Big Panel, is sheltered under the overhang of Table Rock. There is also an ammo can with a visitor's log. Across the canyon is an alcove with the remains of a cliff dwelling (just a few walls, now). A trip up into the ruin is neat, though the main attraction is the rock art. The Big Panel alone is worth spending hours, if you have them, alone on. Journeys up the side canyon and down Snake Gulch further are rewarding. The view, especially at sunset, from the next few bends in Snake Gulch as the canyon deepens, is amazing.

If you are camping at Table Rock (and it makes a great base camp for exploring), please don't camp in front of the Big Panel or the cliff dwelling. Under the point of Table Rock has been used often, so practice low impact camping and try to concentrate there. Just up the side canyon is an old cattle tank that's usually full - its piped from a spring up the side canyon, and provides an excellent water source. Or you can go directly to the spring, but most of its flow goes down to the tank. Don't forget to treat the water - errant cows do occasionally cross into the wilderness through breaks in the fences.

Table Rock is a great destination for the day, as a basecamp, or as a stopover on a longer journey into the Kanab Creek Wilderness. Its isolated and hardly visited, so despite the good roads to the trailhead, I have never seen another party in the canyon. The rock art is world class, and the hiking is easy. What's not to like?

Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.

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2007-08-13 PaleoRob
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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 Reviews
Snake Gulch to Table Rock
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This was the first stop of an eight day foray on the north rim of the Grand Canyon that included: a trip to Toroweap, Lava Falls, Nampaweap Trumbell, Jump Up Trail, a three day backpack into Deer Creek and Thunder River and a quick finale in Marble Canyon. This little over night backpack turned out to be a tremendous start to our trip. I was very intrigued by the prehistory of the area and thought it was an ideal backpack for Jackie and the pups from the sounds of the terrain, so I decided to make this my introductory venture into the Kanab Creek Wilderness.

We drove up Friday night and slept at the trailhead for an early start Saturday. The trail is in great shape, the tread is heavy and it is pretty easy to follow. However, some may prefer pants or gaiters for the sporadic sections of over growth along the trail. The rock art is tough to miss and it really is some of the best I have seen and worthy of the praise it receives in the hike description. I was thankful I brought along Jackie because she pointed out about three times as many ancient drawings as me, which she attributed to me walking too fast. The area is a very dry. In fact, I was starting to really worry when the trough described in the description was in major disrepair and dry as a bone. We moved towards the spring location on my GPS and passed another empty and defunct trough before finally reaching the source, where a beautiful seep was filling two cement troughs with clear cool water. I thought, "phew we were not turning around for a 16 mile day hike with over night packs!"

After finding out we were not going to die of thirst, we did a lot of exploring in the area and were not disappointed. The amount of quality rock art out there is unprecedented and the figures depicted leave one mystified. In fact, I am probably more intrigued than ever now about the prehistoric people of the southwest. After a perfect night, with perfect conditions it was a quick hike out the next morning, a few more finds and on to Toroweap.
Snake Gulch to Table Rock
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I initially found the Snake Gulch hike in Wilson's book "Hiking Ruins Seldom Seen" then followed-up up at HAZ finding Rob's great description. Decided it was a must do.

I had been considering a trip to hike the Toroweep/Lava Falls route quite some time and tacking Snake Gulch into a long weekend made good sense. The plan was to camp at the Snake Gulch trail head Thursday, hike the Snake Gulch "out & back" Friday then bust north for some R&R at a Kanab motel. Then, Saturday morning we would drive several hours out to Toroweep to do Vulcan's Throne, leaving Lava Falls route for a VERY early start on Sunday as well as the huge drive back to Flagstaff. The first part of the trip went perfectly as planned...however, I once again was foiled by the Toroweep logistics for Sat/Sun (read on).

We (my high school basketball buddy from Kingman) left Flagstaff around 1:30pm and easily made the Snake Gulch TH (via Jacob's Lake) around 5pm. We setup camp and roasted some dogs over the campfire. At 7am, armed with Kelsey's maps, we headed north up Nail Canyon to the old homestead/ranch, then west through Snake Gulch. Our find as much Rock Art as possible.

Beyond the homestead, we didn't really see clear signs of history until about the 2 mile mark when we came upon the petroglyph alcove. Another mile or so we hit the first panel (Rob called it the "parents panel") and from that point on the pictographs become very abundant.

About 3/4s the way, I climbed up a 20' vertical ledge to some great, semi-hidden was a very tough down climb, but I fortunately survived w/o breaking my neck.

We finally arrived at Table Rock (was "supposed" to be obvious, but it's rather diminutive size left us both wondering a bit.) but for some crazy reason didn't even bother to explore the south (or north) side of Table Rock so I suspect from Rob's description that we missed some great art. :(

We both decided to continue west for bit, and around the 6.5-7 mile mark, my buddy told me he had had enough and was breaking. We found a shady alcove to eat but instead, my curiosity got the best of me. I grabbed a liter of water and my camera...told my buddy I was going to quickly "bust out" the rest of the canyon and sped off on my own. Was not a very smart idea. I simply thought the end of the canyon was a cool mile or so away (was actually about 3)..but with every curve of the canyon, a new bend would emerge. I finally reached the intersection of Snake Gulch and Pigeon Canyon. I was hot, legs all cut up from the sagebrush...I was becoming very nervous and apprehensive. I started to regret what I had just done and wished I hadn't gone so FAR off on my own. I found the ranch (north alcove just past the fence) and "the ruin" mentioned in some online material (see photos-south of the intersection about 1/4 mile on the west side of canyon). Nothing very spectacular, but I achieved my goal. As I hurriedly hiked back to where my buddy was, I continued to be plagued with troubling and anxious thoughts of injury, dehydration or snake bite..I had to force myself to not think so negatively. I only had about 1/4 a liter left, and was heavily reserving (never saw a drop of water anyway...springs out there?? hmmmmmm...Don't count on 'em.)...I developed a headache (from dehydration or stress I suspect).

I finally arrived back to my friend who was starting to worry a bit, and was getting ready to go out and look for me...we headed back east to our vehicle and surprisingly my friend's 100oz Camelback went dry with roughly 4 miles to go. We had to ration and share what was left of my 100oz'er (maybe 1/3) for the remaining part of the trip and went totally dry about a mile from the trail-head. :o 22 miles total (for me per GPS).

We arrived back to my truck and enjoyed refreshments. The hike from the trail-head to Table Rock is an EXTREMELY NICE day hike; flat with plenty to see along the dusty single track, but HOT...can't imagine summer out there. IMHO, there should be no huge interest to hike beyond Table Rock. (We saw two nice pictographs at our rest alcove about 1 mile past, but they were 80 feet up and impossible to reach w/o ropes or a "Randal Schulhauser type" telephoto lens ;) ). Wear gaiters if you got 'em...anything off trail leads to mass amounts of tiny foxtails from the grasses/weeds....I think my socks are ruined.

After arriving to city of Kanab, we started asking locals about the drive out to Toroweep. After gathering everyone's opinion, we basically talked ourselves out of any historic '87 4-Runner has 265K miles and the off-road tires are balding on top. A puncture from a sharp rock out in BFE would have cost me a thousand dollar tow. Toroweep would need to wait for another day. :doh:

LOL...I'm optimistic though, I'm already planning another Toroweep/Lava Falls attempt, perhaps combining it with a search for Shaman's Gallery on Tuckup!!! Any takers??? You can you drive! :)

Permit $$

Map Drive
FR / Jeep Road - Car possible when dry

To Snake Gulch Trailhead
From Flagstaff, head north on US89 to Bitter Springs. Make a left onto US89A. Follow US89A to Jacob Lake. Turn left onto Highway 67, and then make the first dirt right turn onto FR461. Follow 461, keep left at the Y at the top of the hill. After descending the switchbacks (icy during the winter), merge onto FR462, still heading west. When 462 ends at FR22 (the winter alternate for 461/462), make a left. The pavement ends shortly after getting onto 22. After a sharp horseshoe turn, the road straightens out. Turn right on the first dirt road after the horseshoe (by the horse corral). Follow the road, and keep to the right, until it dead-ends at the trailhead.

From PHX (I-10 & AZ-51) 329 mi - about 6 hours 14 mins
From TUC (Jct 1-10 & Grant) 434 mi - about 7 hours 44 mins
From FLG (Jct I-17 & I-40) 183 mi - about 4 hours 7 mins
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