DISTANCE
10.6 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
1,840 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

backpacking

hiking

nature trips

river

views

waterfall

wildlife

rocky

no shade

no dogs

backpacking
2 days ago

I did this loop as a 1-night overnight. Actually, it was my first backpacking trip though I have day-hiked many, many miles. We dropped in at crack-in-the-wall and exited at the Sneaker Route.

Be mindful of storms in the area, for the few days prior to your hike. I find these warnings fatiguing when I read about canyon hikes, but when you are *in* the canyon and you see how prone you are to water you realize you can’t be too careful with this risk.

As a hike, this is tremendous. It is magnificent and worth all the effort. Take this hike. I would advise this as a day-hike, though. At 11 miles it’s a reasonable day-hike length and the effect of a large pack on your center of gravity at egress is unwelcome.

[1] The drive down Hole in the Rock road takes longer than you think. It’s rough, slow driving.
[2] There are 2 trail heads - the first is called Water Tank and is close to Hamblin Arch, the second is called 40 Mile and is more east. The path from 40 Mile trail head, east to Crack in the Wall, is easy to follow and turns from sandy to bare rock about halfway. Cairns are easy to follow.
[3] In the gulch, the trail miles just zoom past. There is so much to see and the trail is constantly changing. That said, it’s not particularly fast, and it’s not particularly taxing (even with backpacking weight). We did about 25 minutes per mile in the gulch without really trying, and without dawdling.
[4] I found Hamblin Arch, itself, a bit underwhelming, but the rest of the canyon was far better than expected.
[5] The Sneaker Route (called Moki Stairs on Google Maps?) is wildly fun. I ascended it without rope and with 30 pounds on my back - slowly. Prior to my trip I had read countless reviews of this feature and I saw a wide variety of comments representing all skill levels and risk appetites. I found it to be less physically taxing than expected, but simultaneously a bit more unnerving. Know yourself before doing this.
[6] The Sneaker Route is right on the trail and easy to find if you know what you’re looking for. But...if you don’t you might walk right past like I did. I found this AT app to be valuable in this regard.
[7] It is difficult to determine the “top” of the Sneaker Route as the rock simply becomes less steep. The cairns point to Water Tank trail head, so if you parked at 40 Mile TH be prepared to get east before you might think you need to. After the egress, the hike to the TH is anticlimactic.