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Coyote Gulch, UT
mini location map2017-11-23
49 by photographer avatarJohn9L
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Coyote Gulch, UT 
Coyote Gulch, UT
Backpack avatar Nov 23 2017
Backpack22.00 Miles 2,500 AEG
Backpack22.00 Miles2 Days         
2,500 ft AEG
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This trip is the epitome of last minute. Karl and I talked about doing a Thanksgiving trip but didn’t have anything finalized a week out. We messaged back and forth and finalized our plan roughly 3-4 days beforehand. The good thing is we do this kind of stuff all the time so it was only a matter of packing and buying groceries. We left Phoenix on Wednesday afternoon and got a hotel in Kanab, UT. We woke on Thanksgiving Day and made the drive to Escalante and headed south on the Hole in the Rock Road. All the days (very few) of planning were over and it was go time!

Thursday, Nov 23 – Thanksgiving Day
We started hiking around 11am and headed in. Our goal is to navigate to the Crack Route and drop down to Coyote Gulch near the confluence with the Escalante River. Karl did this trip almost two decades ago and said it was well worth the effort. We both found a GPS Route posted online and this helped keep us on track. Our hike started by following an old road that was a mostly deep and annoying sand. After a bit the road disappears and you follow a cairned route over slickrock. We had no issues following the route and arrived at the Crack Route. I thought the route looked very intuitive and would be mostly easy to get down.

There are three sections to the Crack Route down. The first is a drop of 15 feet and a short squeeze. Karl went first and dropped down and then we passed our packs through. The next up was another squeeze about 20 feet across. We both squeezed through and were able to bring our overnight backpacks too. The final section is a very tight squeeze. Taking your backpack through is not an option so we both lowered our packs the final 20 feet to the bottom of the obstacle. From there we both squeezed sideways though. There is very little room and we had to slide foot to foot through a 50 foot squeeze. It was damn fun! Once through we grabbed our packs and continued down to Coyote Gulch and selected campsite a hair up canyon.

After setting up camp, Karl and I headed down canyon. We had about three hours of day light and were hoping to make it all the way to Stevens Canyon. We hit the confluence with the Escalante River and headed up canyon from there. We had to cross several times through the very cold river. The crossing left our feet numb. We continued on and enjoyed the epic views of Stevens Arch. It rises above the canyon and is spectacular! We planned to keep going but several more crossing loomed ahead of us. The river was too cold so we decided to turn around and head back to camp. We spent the rest of the evening relaxing and darkness set in by 6pm. It got very cold and both of us turned in around 8:45pm. I had my zero degree sleeping bag and was comfy all night.

Friday, Nov 24 – Black Friday
We started our day around 7am as the sun slowly rose. It was a chilly morning and fires are not allowed down here. We took our time and discussed our options. Or original plan was to spend three days down here but we decided to hike out today. This gave us plenty of time to day hike into Neon Canyon the next day. Plus we could car camp tonight and enjoy a nice campfire.

We left camp around 9am and started the hike up canyon. There was a lot of wading through ankle deep water and several moderate obstacles to climb. Carrying an overnight pack made it more difficult but we both made each scramble with minimal difficulty. There are several epic waterfalls along this lower stretch of Coyote Gulch. The canyon is just spectacular and we really soaked it in! We continued up canyon and stopped to check out the ruins and glyphs just above the canyon floor. I removed this from my GPS Track. From there we took a short break and then continued on to the Coyote Natural Bridge. This is an amazing bridge that has water flow directly underneath it. We took a variety of pics and pushed on.

Next up was the Jacob Hamblin Arch. This is absolutely spectacular! We took more pics and also explored the exit route. There is a route that leaves the canyon and is aided by a fixed rope. Karl climbed up there and checked it out. It’s a great option to enter / exit. We talked about exiting here but I wanted to continue up canyon and then exit somewhere along Hurricane Wash. Karl agreed so we kept pushing up canyon. We took a break at the confluence with Hurricane Wash and filtered some water. From there we headed up Hurricane Wash and exited roughly a mile or so up canyon. From there it was cross country back to the first parking lot off Fortymile Ridge. Our light was waning so we pushed on and reached the parking lot and then had 2.5 miles of road walking back to the trailhead we started from.

We arrived back to our trailhead around 4:30pm and were both spent. It was a long day but well worth the effort. We packed up and drove a few miles back towards Hole in the Rock Road and picked out a campsite we saw on the ride in the day before. We set up camp and enjoyed a campfire. Temps weren’t too bad with lows in the high 30’s. The fire made a big difference. We were done with the first portion of our hike and were looking forward to Neon Canyon the next day.

Final Thoughts
Permits are required for this hike. They are free and are available at the Escalante Visitor Center or at the Trailhead

I edited my GPS and removed all the sides trips we made including the trip to the ruins and glyphs. There is lots of information online regarding the locations.

Coyote Gulch is loaded with camp options. Pretty much every bend in the canyon has a campsite. I would guess you can’t go more than a quarter mile without seeing a camp option.

I would recommend high clearance vehicle for these trailheads however there were several sedans that made it.

I had good Verizon cell signal at our trailhead off Fortymile Ridge. Cell signal was intermittent along the Hole in the Rock Road.

This trip would not have happened without Karl offering to drive. Thank you so much for driving and sorry about hitting 100 MPH in your new 4Runner on our way south of Page!
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Jacob Hamblin Arch
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