Gateway to Kanab Creek
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.
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.
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