On this 27-mile out-and-back in Manti–La Sal National Forest, you’ll explore Woodenshoe Canyon, a 15-mile-long tributary that cuts through South Elk Ridge in the Dark Canyon Wilderness. Descend from the trailhead to a shady forest of ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, aspen, and Gambel oak, blooming with trailside wildflowers. Pass Cherry Canyon at 4.75 miles, where beautiful slickrock cliffs rise 1,200 feet to the canyon rim. At 9.6 miles, follow a narrow limestone gorge to a side canyon on the right (11.4 mi.). Just ahead of it, find water and several good campsites along the trail until the perennial spring at 13.5 miles; the sites near here are also good basecamps for exploring up and down Dark Canyon, whose entrance is 1.2 miles downcanyon.
Hike provided by Ron Adkison, author of Hiking Grand Staircase-Escalante and the Glen Canyon Region (FalconGuide)