2015  HIKING, CYCLING,

& RV TRAVEL ADVENTURES

Denali

 

   
 
Runtrails' Web Journal
 
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   THUNDER MOUNTAIN TRAIL VIRTUAL TOUR, p. 4

  THURSDAY, OCTOBER 1

 

Continued from the previous page.

SCENES FROM THE HIGHEST RIDGE:

Once on the ridge the undulating trail is generally more smooth and much easier to hike or ride for about a mile. It curves around the southern edge of  the large amphitheater shown here and in some previous pictures.

Now we're at eye level with the upper parts of the amphitheater. The multiple colors of rocks and fascinating rock walls, fins, spires, and hoodoos rival those found along the trails in Bryce Canyon.

This is my favorite part of the entire eight-mile trail.  The views are amazing down into the canyons and out toward the Sevier River Valley and beyond:

 

 

 

 


With a good zoom lens we can see down to our RV park 2-3 air miles away.


This fallen tree makes a good bench for a snack-with-a-fantastic-view.

 

 

One of the most unusual sections of the trail crosses several hundred feet of white rock/dirt/sand that looks like snow from a distance:

 

 

 

 

You can see these sections of white rock in several of the mountains in the Red Canyon area. They are a nice contrast to the red rocks, dark evergreens, and bright blue sky.

WHITE POINT TO COYOTE HOLLOW

The highest point on the trail is near White Point, at about 8,250 feet elevation. My GPS has a different number every time I go there (including several 2016 hikes) -- both higher and lower than that -- but the USFS elevation profile appears to be about that number so I'll use it.

White Point looks best from Inspiration Point and a couple overlooks along the ridge. When you're right below -- or climb up on it -- it's not quite as distinct:


White Point from Inspiration Point

A few hundred feet beyond the sign for White Point, at 4.0 miles from the lower trailhead, you come to these two distinct hoodoos right next to the trail:

 

There are some new views to the north and east from this ridge, well into Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument:

These hoodoos are my usual turnaround point. Only once did I hike all the way to the higher trailhead and that was on my first hike October 1, 2015. On my second fall 2015 hike I turned around here and on every subsequent hike in spring and fall of 2016.

Why? Because that's basically the end of the big colorful canyons, hoodoos/spires, and expansive views. That's why I'm here, not for more generic wooded canyons.

INTO THE FOREST

The remaining four miles of the trail going eastbound continue to undulate. The trail stays pretty high until it reaches the eastern trailhead at Coyote Hollow.

Here's the elevation profile again. We're heading toward the right side of the graph:

The trail winds around a lot as it goes in and out of little canyons. It is mostly smooth and there is more shade here. I could probably ride it with my cyclocross bike but I haven't.

Here are some photos Jim and I took of the upper part of the Thunder Mountain Trail, continuing eastbound in the "uphill" direction:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Coyote Hollow trailhead

At the end of my point-to-point hike I had a total of 8.75 miles, which included the half mile to-from Inspiration Point. My elevation gain = 2,165 feet, loss = 1,101 feet. (Total gain/loss in my out-and-back 8.5-mile hike was 3,553 feet.)

COYOTE HOLLOW ROAD

The two-mile drive out Coyote Hollow Road to Scenic Hwy. 12 was interesting.

I stopped at the Botanical Garden, which is designed to preserve seven rare plants that grow together only in this area. I was tired enough from the hike that I did only about 1/4 mile in the "garden," which is open only to foot traffic:

As I was approaching the equestrian campground on this dirt road I came up to a bunch of free-range cows, some of them right near the CG host's 5th-wheel:

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Despite my concerns about getting run over by a bike on this trail and the probability of falling on loose rocks on some of the steep descents, it's my favorite trail in Red Canyon -- at least the lower four miles of it with the awesome views and colorful rocks.

Since I'm writing this almost a year later, I can tell you I've been on this trail numerous times in varying conditions. It never fails to impress me.

The rock colors look different at different times of day. It's especially beautiful in the evening when the sun highlights the multiple colors in the high amphitheater. Clouds vs. sun also impacts the colors, which are pretty either way.


View toward the amphitheater

Right after a rain when the the rocks are still wet they are even more colorful than usual -- and the trail is less treacherous because the rocks don't slide as much.

As with other trails in Red Canyon, if you aren't able to hike, run, or bike them consider a guided horseback ride on the Thunder Mountain Trail so you can enjoy its grandeur.

I seldom take either of our dogs on this trail and only then on the lower mile where I can better hear and see the cyclists coming. I don't recommend hiking with a dog on the Thunder Mountain Trail. In addition to the danger from bikes, there is no water available for eight long miles.

Next entrynow let's go to Bryce Canyon National Park!

Happy trails,

Sue
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup

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2015 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil

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