Hayduke: Moab to Lockhart Basin

HaydukeUpdate

– part of the Hayduke Reference –

I’m not a big fan of the ‘by-the-book’ Hayduke route from Moab to Lockhart Basin. Maybe it’s because I had a miserable time both years I’ve walked along the section. It might have been my 2009 experience when I found the springs in northern Lockhart Canyon dry and ended up going a long way without any water OR maybe it was almost getting blown off the road by numerous 4-wheelers en route to Hurrah Pass OR just how walking along pavement in general makes me antsy.  It’s definitely a scenic area and definitely the most easily followed route , but I think I’d always opt for the Behind the Rocks or Over Hatch Mesa alternates for this section personally. Here’s my overview of the section: Leaving the Moab the route follows the paved Kane Creek Blvd along the Colorado River. The road is seen here from up on the Moab Rim Trail: IMGP5752 Farther along a popular stopping point for day-trippers from Moab is Moon Flower Canyon. It’s worth a stop to join the crowd and check out the petroglyphs here. Just past Pritchett Canyon, the road soon turns to gravel as the it follows Kane Springs Canyon up away from the river. As the road climbs high above the inner canyon, look for big boulders on the right down a small incline which are covered with petroglyphs. The famous ‘Birthing Scene’ petroglyph is here. A side hike leaves on the opposite of road nearby as well to climb up to Funnel Arch (aka Cable Arch.) The Birthing Scene Past the switchbacks and near the bottom of Hunters Canyon is a small spring which provides great water. This is likely to be the last good water for a ways.

Farther up the road the canyon will open up substantially. There are several spur roads in this section, but it’s easy to stay on the main road.  Watch for more boulders with petroglyphs along the left side of the road. The Happy Turk Hoodoo (aka Devils Golf Ball) is also just off the road on the left and is a mandatory quick diversion to stand under it.

Soon one will come to a junction where the Kane Springs Canyon Jeep road goes left and the Hayduke continues along the road toward Hurrah Pass.

junction to Hurrah Pass

junction to Hurrah Pass

The climb up to Hurrah Pass provides great views back down on Kane Springs Canyon and it’s possible to observe the localized anticline geology aka the bending of the earth.

looking down Kane Springs Canyon

looking down Kane Springs Canyon

Once at the pass one can get a glimpse of the Potash evaporation ponds on the other side of the river. Descending the west side of from Hurrah Pass one passes several interesting hoodoos and side canyons before getting back down near the river. The next stretch is fairly dry with little shade, but access to the river is possible in a few spots if one needs relief.

Farther along the road splits with a Jeep road headed o Chickens Corners and the Hayduke continuing to the left along the Lockhart Backcountry Jeep Road. The rough side canyon climb is the most difficult section for vehicles along the road.

Atop the canyon the route winds past some more interesting hoodoos while making a long and winding way around the northern point of Hatch Mesa.  Canyonlands Overlook (and UN Tablet) tower above this spot and Dead Horse Point can be seen across the river to the north.

looking across to Dead Horse Point

looking across to Dead Horse Point

Soon one needs to leave the road and enter the upper NE branch of Lockhart Canyon. There are ways to short-cut this route some, but they will require some minor scrambling. Also, if there is water to be found here (none in 2009), it will likely be in the upper reaches of the canyon.

Headed down canyon one eventually comes to a large dryfall. Bypass on the left and follow the rim of the canyon down and to the south. Eventually you will come to a side canyon where a constructed cattle trail provides access into a side canyon. Headed down this side canyon, a side-side canyon on the right has piped waterworks for water (also dry in 2009). Not much farther one intersects main Lockhart Canyon. One can turn right and go to to the Colorado River, or turn left and continue on the route up canyon.

The upper part of the southern branch the canyon has a sandy road running through it. In the last portion one it likely to see an outbreak of water from the spring marked on the map. There’s also a rancher line-shack in the area.

Upper (southern) portion of Lockhart Canyon

Upper (southern) portion of Lockhart Canyon

A little bit farther and one will emerge from the canyon and see the wide-open Lockhart Basin ahead. Almost immediately one comes to the intersection and re-connects with the Lockhart Backcountry Road. Go right and head towards Rustler Canyon. NOTE: there is likely to be a large cow reservoir just west of this location along the road.

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