Cosmic Ashtray via Volcano Trail is a 8.3 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Boulder, Utah that offers scenic views and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking and nature trips and is best used from March until November.

Length8.3 miElevation gain882 ftRoute typeOut & back
HikingNature tripsViewsRockyScrambleOff trailNo shade
Description
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Getting There

The Cosmic Ashtray is a difficult trail leading to a unique land formation. The hike starts out sandy and soon turns to slick rock leading to the geological wonder. It can be very hot on this unmarked trail. It is not recommended to go into the ashtray/pit alone or without a rope. This is a cool hike, but beware that it's really dangerous if you don't know what you're doing and aren't prepared with survival supplies. First, 4WD is typically required to get to the trail head, as you will pass over deeply-rutted hills and very uneven slickrock in your vehicle. If you attempt this trail, you MUST have a GPS with you--it is very easy to get lost otherwise, and then exhaust yourself in the alternating sand/slick rock up-and-down. There are no cairns to mark the trail. Do not attempt to go into the ashtray without a rope anchored outside the pit, with someone holding it. Otherwise you could be stuck there for days under direct sun before someone finds you, as this is not a well-trafficked site. Spring and Fall would be best temperature-wise for this hike.

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Hwy 12, east of Escalante about 6 miles to Spencer flat road, south to the end of road.

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Daylight
Reviews (78)
Photos (74)
Recordings (53)
Completed (116)
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Logan Vincent
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarApril 5, 2021
HikingNo shadeOff trailRocky

Driving to the trail head is really easy to follow. The road is great until the last 0.8 mi when come to some slick rock and sand. If you are comfortable with it you may be able to make it in a 2wd. I would recommend AWD for most people though. There are two ways to do this trail. You can follow the Alltrails map and it will guide you pretty accurately over sand hills and rock. Or you can go around the rock hills and stay pretty level, but have to walk through sand. I chose to follow the Alltrails map (didn't want to go through too much sand) and went over the rock hills and it worked great. There wasn't anything too difficult about this hike, but there is a lot of up and down that can wear on yo as well as some sand parts. Going over the base of the rock hills also means you are walking on a slant so it puts strain on your ankles so be sure not to roll them. Following this route there will be no obvious trail for much of the hike but the Alltrails map is accurate so follow it. You mainly travel over the base of rock slopes in the west of the valley so if you get lost it shouldn't be hard to find your way back. The actual Cosmic Ashtray will not be visible until you are right above it. It is huge! It really is stunning and like nothing else I've seen. If you are there before mid day you should have shade there. If you are confident in your climbing there are footholes on the lower portion that you can climb in and out of the ashtray. It really isn't hard to get in and out. If you aren't confident in your climbing skills then do not go in. There is no other way out. We went in early April and started at 9 am and got back at 12. The temperature was in the upper 50's when we left and 80 when we got back. There isn't much shade besides what the juniper trees provide. We took our 2 small dogs with us and they did well but did start getting hot by the time we got back. There are cactus so be careful. Make sure to bring plenty of water.

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Caleb Henderson
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarApril 5, 2021
Hiking

The Ashtray is amazing, otherworldly for sure. But the surrounding desert landscape is almost enough to warrant the hike itself. The trail is not super challenging considering you are prepared. I’m fairly physically fit and completed it in a little over 4 hours. Only spent maybe 30 mins at the ashtray though. You may want to spend longer and enjoy it. Leading up to the hike I was concerned about getting out of the Ashtray even with the carved out steps, especially since I hiked solo. I took a chance and didn’t have a problem with it, but I’d recommend not hiking it solo and going in unless you are confident in being agile and light in your toes to get out and have good grip shoes. I used trail runners. Highly recommend the pro all trails app. Followed the map via phone gps and helped tremendously. Could you find the Ashtray without a GPS? Yes, however, the trail heads east, then almost directly south. You may have the desire to just climb up a ridge. I did this a couple times and noticed a canyon appeared at the top not allowing me to continue... had to backtrack and go back down to cross over. After doing this a couple times I double checked and zoomed into the map. This helped. Basically I wasted unnecessary energy doing this and the map would help prevent this by following close to the GPS trail. Really you could stay fairly flat heading East almost the entire way until you need to head south. Only possible issue is the frustration of walking through sand. Other things that make this challenging: no shade and walking on slanted rock. My ankles were worn out due to the slant and top that off with walking through sand. It was early April and about 75 and sunny out but without wind it felt like 90. Could have applied sunscreen twice. Brought 3 liters of water and didn’t run out though. Trail head was easy to find. There was sand in a few places but didn’t have an issue with it. Just make sure you don’t stop on the sand but keep moving. Doesn’t necessarily seem like you’d need a high clearance vehicle for getting there but would give you more confidence. Beyond all of that the trail is well worth it - definitely a bucket list item!

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Lindsey Harvey
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarApril 1, 2021
HikingOff trail

Hike was 3.4 miles round trip! Not difficult at all. The views were spectacular, and something that you don’t see everyday. Pictures don’t do it justice! I highly recommend

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Cindy Kenyon
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarFebruary 23, 2021
Hiking
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Luigi Laraia
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJanuary 29, 2021
Hiking

Wonderful hike rewarded by the "ashtray", which is out of this world. We tried to go down the old, sand-covered crater but the rock face was covered in snow and ice so we just enjoyed the views from above. Make sure you have GPS as the trail is not easy to follow and actually in parts, you might have to make your own trail. We never had a problem. Enjoy the volcanic rocks scattered everywhere. Geology aficionados will have a field day here. And the views are just as wonderful. I would go again.

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Rekha Goel
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarDecember 21, 2020
Hiking
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Al Pieper
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarDecember 20, 2020
Rock climbingGreat!No shadeOff trailRocky

There really is no “Trail” Do your best to get there without going up and down every single mountain. Use your GPS and make sure you start no later than 11am so you can beat the sun. The view is incredible and the sand inside is some of the softest I’ve ever felt, really amazing

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Dale Parsons
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarDecember 15, 2020
HikingNo shade

No defined trail which I thought was fun to find your own path. Depending on time of year I would recommend leaving with plenty of light so you don't hike back in the dark(like me lol). The trail is completely exposed so take proper precautions. The Ashtray is well worth the journey, enjoy!

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Maria Surina
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarNovember 30, 2020

We did hike from other side and ended up driving up on the Harris Wash road for about 3.5 mile each way. So, the hike was about 1.5 mile If you want to do the same make sure that you have 4x4 car and high clearance

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Ryan Dahl
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarNovember 24, 2020

Insane views!! We hiked Cosmic Ashtray via Volcano trail today on 11/23. If it wasn't for starting late (2pm) we would have had a really nice hike. Trail starts out on sand for a while then slowly moves to rock, then periods of steep rock with exposure to the Ashtray (consider trekking poles). I would keep a general direction of where you're going, but definitely use the GPS on this app liberally. Super important: do not start this hike late. It's 8 miles long and took us 4 hours 15 mins and we were definitely hiking in the pitch black darkness over steep rock. Still glad I did it, but we def got lucky. Don't be a dummy like us and get on this trail early.

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Kelly Marie
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarNovember 23, 2020
HikingOff trail

Attempted this 11/22. Weather was good for it. I had the map downloaded but was hiking alone and the complete absence of a trail and remoteness of the location (saw zero people) led me to turn back. Would likely be easier to approach from Harris Wash, so might try that next time. Pretty, but there really is no trail at all. I made it about halfway and ended up west of the alltrails map, then decided to turn around before attempting scrambling down and then up a significant ways. I would give the lack of trail a single star, since there's nothing to follow, although if I had made it to the destination I'd probably have given it five stars, so I compromised on my rating. Also, made it to within 0.8 miles of the trailhead in my sedan and walked the rest. Ended up doing a little over 7 miles roundtrip from the halfway point.

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Rona Nguyen
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarNovember 21, 2020
Rock climbing
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Jake Burns
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarNovember 21, 2020
Hiking
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Nina Groom
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarNovember 16, 2020
HikingGreat!No shadeOff trail

Really fun trail if you don’t get too hung up on the all trails map. Use the map as a guide but choose your own adventure through the back country. I often found all trails would bring me up mountains just to take me back down… Sort of unnecessary. The ashtray is unlike any other structure I have seen, the sand is absolutely magical. Be prepared to spend at least an hour admiring it. There is a little ladder carved into stone that allows you to go down into the sand. Definitely worth it if you feel confident in your ability to get back up. The sand feels like silk and it creates a very intimate moment at the bottom of the ashtray

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Alex RAYMER
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarNovember 15, 2020
HikingGreat!No shade

Awesome hike first week of November. Used GPS. Sand was wet from melted snow so it was easier but can see how it’s be tough walking. Saw a few cairns but certainly wouldn’t rely on them. Very isolated and very cool.

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Daniel Welch
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarNovember 14, 2020
Hiking

The trail isn't really too difficult; the hardest part is walking across the slanting slickrock, which is hard on your feet and ankles. Besides that it was pretty straightforward hiking. Generally follow the AllTrails map, but use common sense; there are a couple of places where it says to go up or down unnecessarily. We tried to put up some more cairns, but there really aren't very many loose rocks. The difficulty of the road getting there is also a bit oversold; only the last mile or so is really bad, when Spencer Flats Road goes down to a single lane. I wouldn't do it with a low-clearance vehicle for sure..

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Khem Suthiwan
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarOctober 25, 2020
Hiking

Whoa!!! Hike wasn’t technical but a ton of sand the first mile or so and you get it on the way back. Cairns are pretty scattered and only indicate you’re headed in the right direction. Definitely use AllTrails downloaded map as there’s no signal out there plus make sure you have a back up GPS and power bank (or two) for your phone. I got out to the Cosmic Ashtray to only realize my phone had 25% battery left and I brought the wrong charging cable, so I couldn’t use my power bank. Luckily I’d been tracking the hike with my Garmin device, which got me back to the car. Don’t try to be a hero and “figure it out.” You will get lost with no navigation!!! Also have plenty of water with you. If you’re prepared, the hike is so worth it. Definitely not one to take people who constantly ask “are we there yet?”

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HAMi BABAI
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarSeptember 5, 2020
Hiking

Easy to get lost without GPs and Alltrails was helpful. Even with the app I got misdirected a few times. Solititude, pure beauty of sewer and rock formation. I stopped the meter 10 mi ytes late. I think it takes 1.5 our in each direction to finish t.

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Brian S
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarJuly 12, 2020

The most spectacular hike of my life. The hike itself is a journey - need GPS and even then it's crazy easy to get lost. You'll end up hiking for more than 10miles easily. That being said...the reward is absolutely spectacular. The Cosmic Ashtray is one of the most amazing natural wonders I've seen - there is nothing else like it. Do this hike. I manage to get to the trailhead in a normal car - but it wasn't easy. High rise vehicle recommended but not totally necessary if you don't mind a few scrapes on the bottom of your car! You can't drive any further than the trail sign (as some here have suggested) - there is a large sign saying do not drive further (so you'd breaking the rules and destroying the park), and I'm not even sure how you could get around the sign anyways!

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JM Gibson
Yellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray StarGray StarGray StarGray StarJuly 7, 2020
HikingNo shadeRockyScramble

BRING PLENTY OF WATER. Twice as much as you think This trail is dangerous. I almost died today on this thing and ran out of water. One of the scariest moments of my life. I would not attempt this in the blazing hot summer sun. The bowl is other worldly and awesome, but not worth risking your life for. There basically is no trail and you’re just bushwhacking through the whole time or scrabbling on rocks.

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