DISTANCE
34.8 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
9,455 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

backpacking

birding

hiking

nature trips

walking

beach

river

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

scramble

snow

washed out

no dogs

backpacking
2 months ago

Completed the Escalante route in late April 2018 with my son. What a wonderful trail! Regarding safety, it was quite comfortable for us in every aspect (though the Papago Wall gave me pause - more of a steep pitch than I expected). Our biggest near miss was with a rattlesnake about 18 inches away as I walked past with it unseen, sleeping under a low ledge next to the trail between Papago and Hance rapids. Hearing its loud rattle and turning to see it coiled and raised to strike was quite scary, particularly considering the rescue implications if I had been bit. We did not find the stretch from Cardenas to Papago intimidating, in spite of other trip reports. It really was quite comfortable walking. Poles are a must, but I never backpack without them on any trail. The most challenging part of the trip for me was hiking down Tanner midday in the heat – we weren’t able to get started until 9 AM and hiked until 4:00 arrival at Tanner beach with few shade opportunities. The hardest part for my son was hiking up from Horshoe Mesa the last day to the rim with a terrible sore throat. I started the trip with a terrible cold - he ended with it. So it goes! Temperatures down by the river were in the upper 80s during midday, and we carried 4-5 litres of water each, particularly important heading down the Tanner trail. Better to carry more than you need than less, as I learned last time I backpacked in the canyon! We adopted a successful strategy for beating the heat: started hiking by 5:45 AM, hiked until about 10:30, stopped to nap, read, sketch in the shade until about 4:30pm, and then hiked until dusk. Wouldn’t do it any other way - that midday heat is so depleting. We left at 9:00am on a Monday morning, and camped at Tanner Beach night 1. We hiked Tanner-Escalante Creek and rested in shade till 4:30, then hiked to Hance Rapids to camp for night 2 (thus doing the entire Escalante portion in a day). Day 3 hiked to Hance Creek, rested, then up to Horseshoe Mesa for night 3. Topped out on the rim at Grandview about 10:30 AM on day 4, Wednesday. A kind tourist couple gave us a ride back to our car at Lipan Point. My son and I both wore Altra Lone Peak trail shoes, and we’re so glad we did. They kept our feet comfortable, not too hot, handled the terrain really well, and were far preferable for us than hiking boots. The Escalante Route is definitely an expert trail, but if you are an experienced backpacker, it’s comfortable and really wonderful. Route finding skills (cairns are primary guides on this trail) and map + good trail beta printed out are a must. I’ve done a number of trails in the canyon, and this was my favorite.