Here's the relevant
map section again for the Upper Canyon Trail loop:
I hiked CW around this loop, beginning at the red X.
On the last page
I described the first 1¼ miles of the Upper
Canyon Trail (A) from the parking area to the trail leading to
the South Prong primitive camping area. So
far, the trail has been easy to negotiate.
After this intersection the trail
continues to cross wet and dry stream beds. However, it becomes more
narrow, gets more rocky, and gradually starts to climb:
Then it suddenly begins to climb
very steeply up the canyon walls on the right, toward Haynes Ridge.
Hikers or runners who aren't interested in gnarly trail should turn
around here. I was too curious to stop!
This is the first part of trail I
encountered today that is marked "extremely steep and rugged" and it IS.
There are a lot of loose rocks, large rocks to go over or around, and
narrow ledges. It's the first section going CW around the loop that I
marked in red on the map above.
Steep and rocky
The trail switchbacks numerous times as it ascends high above the
I had to stop frequently, not just to see where I'd been and to look
at the spectacular views in three directions, but also to figure out
where to put my feet next. There were a few signs with little arrows
indicating which direction to go, but mostly I had to scan ahead and
above me to see where was the best place to walk.
View in one direction as I
Twists and turns
Looking back down the trail
In just a few minutes of scrambling over
rocks I was looking down several hundred feet into the canyon floor below,
to the trail where I'd just been walking. You can tell from the series
of photos on this page that I was getting higher and higher:
About halfway up I came to a spot that had me befuddled at first.
I surveyed this curve in the trail for a good minute trying to decide
if I should play Spider(wo)man and try to creep around it on the narrow
I had trouble taking photos in the deep shade of the mid-morning but you
get the idea. I lightened up the darkest parts in PhotoShop to give
you a better look at my conundrum. The ledge was less than a foot wide
and overhanging rocks were only about three feet above it. How could a
tall, inflexible person crouch down AND keep her feet on that narrow
I finally realized the only way I'd get myself to the other side of this
curve in one piece was to deliberately slide down about four feet into that hole and use a
four-point climb (both arms and legs) to hoist myself up the other mostly-vertical wall
on the far side. I had to throw my
trekking pole up first, but it worked.
The next photo is a look back (into the sun) at that rocky cove:
After that, I wondered just how much worse it would get!
Cody is part mountain goat; he did
just fine with that challenge and all the other rock scrambling. I did
fine going up the cliffs but worried that I might get into even worse
terrain farther along the loop. I dreaded coming back down this way.
I kept going, knowing I could do it if I
really had to. Fortunately, that was the toughest spot on the
whole loop. Note to self: never do this loop the other
The remaining photos on this page show what the trail
and some of the views looked like as I continued up to the highest point
(3,100 feet) near the intersection with the Haynes Ridge Overlook Trail:
Looking back down: this smooth bedrock was easy to climb
while dry but it might be slick when wet.
Looking back down at some boulders I climbed
Thataway over more rocks . . .
Another steep spot with loose rocks
Ahhh . . . but the views make it all worthwhile!!
Not near the summit yet but look
how high we've gotten so far;
that's the trail 'way down there
where we were a little while ago.
The arrow is pointing to one of
the trail markers that helps hikers negotiate through the rock mazes.
It's a long way down if you slip
off any of the ledges.
Ridge walk continued on
next page . . .
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
and Cody the Ultra Lab
© 2011 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil