There are SO many different ways to hike through the Needles district of Canyonlands for Haydukers. It’s a blessing… and a curse, since it makes it difficult to decide on just one option.
The official route is pretty much the quickest way through the area (and thus less permit hassle), but it skips some good stuff compared to elaborate winding alternates which really showcase more of the area’s incredible geological and historical wonder. I’ve written about two of the options before: Salt Creek Canyon and Heart of the Needles.
The Peekaboo Trail is a fun, 2.3-mile route which connects these two areas and will likely come in handy if devising your own alternate alternate to those alternates. 🙂 For instance, one might want to do a re-supply at the Needles Outpost and then head south into Salt Creek before using Peekaboo to connect over to Lost and Squaw Canyons en route to Chesler Park and the Heart of the Needles. OR… if wanting the true Needles Tour de Force, stay on the official Hayduke past Confluence Overlook and then detour into the Heart of the Needles before heading east through Squaw/Lost to Peekaboo before getting to Salt Creek and heading south up that incredible drainage. This itinerary would require a bunch of planning and proper permits — but it would be awesome (that’s what I did on my 2007 hike.)
NOTE: Salt Creek has required bear canisters for several years now. With bear encounters on the rise, other sections of the Needles are likely to require bear canisters soon, so check with the backcountry office for the latest. In my conversation with them in 2018, the rangers said that they plan to begin more strictly enforcing the permit system as they find more and more Haydukers abusing it.
Unlike other routes in the area which often travel down in the canyons, the Peekaboo Trail winds its way high along slickrock terraces, with great views to the north and the La Sal Mountain along the way. En route the trail passes through a few small arches which serves as the trail’s namesake. A few places require moderate climbs with some exposure — thus this route is NOT recommended whenever there is a chance of snow/ice being present.
Playback should begin at the Peekaboo Trail portion from my Across Canyonlands (2007) video. Please excuse the old style of video (and my pronunciation of cairns!)