The idea for this trip came onto the radar in fall 2017. We looked ahead to Lee’s Spring Break and decided it was the perfect timing to make it happen! Our original plan was to start the hike from Sowats Point but that is high elevation topping out at over 6,000 ft. Rain & snow were in the forecast so we decided to play it safe and start on the west side in Hack Canyon which sits at roughly 4,000 ft. This was a great option but features a long hike in of fifteen miles.
The three of us left Phoenix on Friday afternoon and made the drive to Kanab, UT where we stayed in a hotel. We woke on Saturday morning and made the drive in. The roads to Hack Canyon are in good condition overall. There are a few hairy spots in Hack Canyon but high clearance will do the trick.
March 17, 2018
We arrived at the Hack Canyon TH around 8:15am and got geared up for the hike in. There were three guys from Oregon who camped at the TH the night before. They were heading out and told us there was no water down canyon but they only went roughly six miles in. We expected this section to be dry but it still gave us some anxiety. If we can’t find water we’ll have to cut the trip short.
We started hiking around 8:30am and cruised down canyon. The first six miles are high speed as there are use trails on the benches above the creek. We took a short break at the junction with Kanab Creek and then continued hiking in. There was no water at all and our anxiety grew. We kept hiking and finally hit flowing water at roughly nine miles in. We made note of this spot and decided to camp here on night three. This will shorten our hike out on our exit day.
The next 5-6 miles were slow going and the flowing creek dried up within a mile or two. We found a few small pools as we neared the junction with Jump Up. The long hike was taking a toll on us and we talked about setting up camp roughly two miles from the junction but ultimately pushed on and we’re glad we did. There is a sweet campsite at the junction of Kanab Creek & Jump Up Canyon that rises 25 ft above the creek. We also found a small pool roughly a third of a mile away.
We set up camp and settled in for the evening. Rain was in the forecast and we were prepared. A light drizzle started falling around 6:30pm and sprinkled on and off. I spent the evening relaxing in my tent and fell asleep only to be woken around midnight by heavy wind and more rain. It was a bit unnerving but not too bad.
March 18, 2018
I started day two with checking my tent for water after the rain last night. There was some condensation on my tent and some water inside but not a big deal. We left camp and headed up Jump Up Canyon. There is a small chance of rain but we got lucky and it stayed dry.
The going up Jump Up Canyon is fairly easy as you walk up a dry creek bed. Some sections are loaded with annoying rocks but it’s not too bad. A few miles up we passed through a sweet sections of narrows that all of us enjoyed. We continued on and the canyon eventually opens up and water started flowing. We pass Kwagunt Canyon and kept heading north. Our goal was the Jump Up Ladder and I’m glad we went. The last mile leading to the ladder is spectacular! The canyon becomes steeper and features several breathtaking waterfalls.
Lee turned off to explore a cave while Karl and I continued another half mile to the ladder which turned out to be very cool. You arrive at a waterfall and have to turn to the right to spot the ladder 20ft above the canyon floor. We climbed up to it and the ladder looks precarious. Karl climbed up and briefly explored the area above. He eventually returned and then we started our return back down canyon where we took a short lunch break and met back up with Lee soon after.
The three of us then returned down canyon with a quick stop in Indian Hollow. We proceeded up this sweet canyon about fifteen minutes until we cliffed out at a 20ft waterfall. Getting up this would be extremely difficult and dangerous so we turned around and headed back to the camp.
We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring another short side canyon below camp and then settled in to our evening. The weather was dry and comfortable and we enjoyed dinner and turned in around 9pm.
March 19, 2018
On our third day we headed down Kanab Creek. The going was similar to Jump Up as we followed the dry creek bed and dodged large boulders. We made good time for the most part and ran into flowing water after 2-3 miles. From there it’s water all the way as we continued on for Showerbath Spring. We arrived at the spring and took a variety of pics and took a short break. Scotty’s Castle & Hollow were another mile down canyon but I was tired of all the rock hopping so I decided to head back. Lee and Karl continued down canyon. I took my time and returned to camp where I took a nap and broke down camp.
The guys returned to camp a couple of hours later and I had everything packed up and ready to go. The plan was to hike six miles back towards Hack Canyon and camp along the stretch of water we found on our hike in. This will greatly shorten the hike out on our last day. I hit the trail and made good time as I headed up canyon. Along the way came the first and only person we would see while backpacking. A solo backpacker was heading in and we had a short conversation. After that I continued on and made it to our camp location within an hour. Once there I set up camp and waited for the others to join me.
Lee & Karl arrived a bit later and we settled in for an evening around a campfire. All of us were beat after covering a lot of ground the past few days. We enjoyed dinner around the campfire and everyone was in bed around 9pm.
March 20, 2018
We hit the trail at 7am and started our hike out. We had roughly 8.5 miles to go and made quick work of the hike. We took a short break at the junction with Hack Canyon. From there it was one foot in front of the other as we cruised out. Along the way a couple of jet fighters flew overhead as they headed down canyon. We were back to the trailhead around 10am and packed up and then started the return to Phoenix. Another wonderful trip in the books! Thanks Karl for driving!