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Backpacker Magazine – September 2005

ESCALANTE: A Complete Adventure Guide

When Utahans really wants to disappear, they head to the magnificent canyons of Grand Staircase-Escalante.

by: Steve Howe


Little Death Hollow-Wolverine Canyon Loop

This perfect weekend route twists through two narrow, nontechnical slot canyons.

Love canyons, but not climbing? This 15.8-mile near-loop takes you through two stunning slots that don't require swimming, rope work, or exposed scrambling, which makes it a spectacular but straightforward trip for folks with limited technical experience. Much of the route runs through narrow stone hallways less than 20 feet wide that were cleared of obstacles by massive floods last winter (this could change overnight, of course). The loop can be done in either direction. For overnighters, the scenery crescendoes from Wolverine to Little Death; dayhike speedsters should head in the opposite direction for easier dusk travel up Wolverine.

Approximately 6 miles down Wolverine, the terrain suddenly opens into Horse Canyon. Note the controversial graded road that appears briefly near the derelict cabin once used by cattlemen. In another 1.7 miles, you'll come to the junction of Horse and Little Death Hollow, marked by a large cottonwood grove and a small, old pump shack. Your only reliable source of water nearby is the Escalante River (an excellent basecamp location); this sidetrip requires a 2.4-mile, one-way hike downstream (southwest) from the Horse Canyon/Little Death Hollow junction. The route can also be linked up with the Upper Escalante River and The Gulch via UT 12 trailheads for a fine weeklong trek.

The Way
From Boulder, drive east on the (asphalt) Burr Trail for 18 miles. Just east of Long Canyon, take Wolverine Loop Road south for 12.6 miles to the Wolverine trailhead, or to the Little Death Hollow trailhead 2.7 miles farther. Drive, hike, or bike the shuttle to close the loop.

USGS quads Pioneer Mesa, King Bench, Silver Falls Bench, Red Breaks


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