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Syncline Loop

HARD 163 reviews
#10 of 78 trails in

Syncline Loop is a 8.6 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Moab, Utah that offers the chance to see wildlife and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail is primarily used for hiking, trail running, and camping and is accessible year-round.

Distance: 8.6 miles Elevation Gain: 1,630 feet Route Type: Loop

camping

hiking

running

views

wildlife

scramble

washed out

no shade

no dogs

Loop trail around Upheaval Dome in Canyonlands National Park: Islands in the Sky This strenuous backcountry route follows the washes on either side of Upheaval Dome. Spur trails partway around the loop provide access to the center of the crater and the Green River. Total elevation change is roughly 1,300 feet. The north side of the loop passes through a riparian area where water and shade are usually available. There is one designated campsite along the trail. Go clockwise for a more gradual uphill journey back to the trailhead. If you'd like a bit of a challenge and don't mind very steep switchbacks at the end of your journey, try counter-clockwise.

12 days ago

Amazing trail. I did this solo in late November going clockwise and included the spur trail to the center of the crater. There were cairns to guide the way so staying on trail was no problem. This is a very strenuous trail. There is a section where you need to scramble over rocks on a steep incline and by going clockwise I went up this section. It took about six hours including the spur and stopping for lunch in the crater. The views and solitude were amazing.

rocky
scramble
14 days ago

We did this amazing and strenous hike on a sunny November day. We decided to trek counter clockwise in order to start with a more gradual descent. This meant that we finished with a pretty gruelling and steep ascent. I think both ways should be doable for people who are in reasonably good shape. There is one section (3.5 miles in when going CC) that might make those with a fear of heights feel uncomfortable, and that might be dangerous in wet conditions. All in all, this is a beautiful and hard hike that will shower you with gorgeous and varied landscapes! It took us a bit over 5 hours to finish.

24 days ago

of beach wigs

hiking
rocky
scramble
1 month ago

This is indeed a tough hike. I went clockwise, but i don’t think it really matters that much. You’ll encounter steep descents and ascents in either direction. The main problem with going clockwise is that the last 3 miles are pretty anti-climactic. The “Syncline” itself was less difficult than other sections, especially the steep, rocky, northwest section of the loop which gets a bit sketchy in places. The trail is easy enough to follow if you pay attention. When I stated on a Saturday morning just after sunrise (7:45 in late October) I was the only one there. When I finished, a little over 4 hours later, the place was overflowing. So get there early!

hiking
scramble
2 months ago

Took this loop counterclockwise (CC). Have not hiked this clockwise so can’t compare the two directions, just reviewing our route. Chose CC direction primarily to avoid long and steep down hill section due to knee issues. Preferred to tackle the 5 miles of more gradual down hill which was pretty easy and scenic in the morning. Mostly Shaded or sun at your back for most of the first 4 miles. Canyon walls in front of you are brilliantly lit up by rising sun. At about 4 1/2 miles in you will hit a boulder action that requires scrambling with a lot of exposure. This section would certainly be more comfortable up-climbing on the clockwise route, but doable on the way down with caution. If we had more time, the upheaval canyon trail toward the river looked very cool. Quite a few spots where trail crosses in and out of the wash and you need to look for cairns to know which is the trail. Please back track if you miss the trail and don’t destroy thousands of years of desert crust on the sand. Last 2 miles is full sun exposure and a tough set of switchbacks and rock steps.

hiking
2 months ago

Great hike, but not easy. Hiking clockwise is recommended. Pretty difficult rock scramble around mile 3.5, be prepared for rock climbing. In places the trail in this area is hard to follow. Look for the trail markers, they’re out there but sometimes they’re in the distance ahead of you.

hiking
2 months ago

some interesting climbs but not a lot of views

hiking
2 months ago

Trail had cairns along the way. You’re in the wash for the last half toward upheaval dome. No water so bring plenty.

hiking
rocky
2 months ago

We started this trail at 9 and did it counter clockwise, finishing at 3:30. We had a lot of great shade starting out and some spots toward the end. Definitely bring more fluid than you think you need and start early! It's an incredible hike with amazing views so take the time to enjoy them - especially in the shaded spots. The cairns help a lot.

hiking
no shade
rocky
scramble
2 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

one of my favorite hikes! we were definitely not prepared and ran out of water within half of the hike, but we continued. we went counter clockwise and the views were astounding. it was hard climbing back out of the canyon at the end from exhaustion(i might recommend starting clockwise.) this trail was very unique and sometimes hard to find. be aware of following the correct cairns. the trail was was one of a kind coming into the canyon. i hope to camp here next time for an overnight trip and out to the river. take lots of water and sunscreen!

hiking
rocky
scramble
4 months ago

This is an amazing hike! But it is not for the faint of heart. Many beautiful views. A LOT of rocks. One section will have you scrambling over (and squeezing between) some big boulders. Can be difficult to locate the trail in many spots, so keep your eyes peeled for the cairns marking the trail. I kept referencing the track on All Trails to make sure we were headed the right direction. We went in mid October, and it was still pretty hot out, so take lots of water. I think I went through all 5L of water I took with me.

hiking
no shade
scramble
4 months ago

Did this trail a few days ago and it was great. A park ranger recommended doing it clockwise for some (but not much) afternoon shade. Clockwise also means a steep descent off the mesa and a slightly longer, more gradual ascent up a canyon back to the trailhead. The ascent had some scrambling and the route often crosses or is in washes so avoid if rain is in the forecast. I did the whole loop in 6.5 hours (9am - 3:30pm), including the full spur up into the crater and a decent break to cook a dehydrated meal for lunch. The whole loop plus spur is like 11-12 miles, so bring A GALLON OF WATER. I used it all, but I was hiking in the heat of a 95 degree July day, so you might need less in different conditions. Beautiful views, good workout, and lots of fun. Side note: the spur was just up a wash and the crater is underwhelming from up close, so only do that if you have extra energy. Highly recommend this hike and as long as you look carefully for cairns you won't get lost!

hiking
scramble
5 months ago

hiking
no shade
rocky
scramble
5 months ago

We went in June, set off right around sunrise to avoid the worst of the midday heat. No shade, bring lots of water. Steep switchbacks to get down the outside of the crater, make sure to take the spur trail into the center of the crater while you're down there. Definitely some scrambling on the way back up the last few miles. We didn't see many people until our return back up the dome (we went clockwise) around 11am - 12pm i think.

hiking
no shade
scramble
5 months ago

Great trail. We completed it clockwise and so had a steep downhill and then a more gradual uphill. Still required a lot of scrambling. Only saw one other person the whole time!! bring lots of water

hiking
no shade
scramble
5 months ago

Great trail. We backpacked it and camped by the spur into the dome. There was still a little bit of not so great tasting water trickling in way down the spur trail. We did the loop counter clockwise. The steep scrambling was in the beginning that way. Highly recommend.

hiking
off trail
scramble
5 months ago

This is an excellent trail and I highly recommend. I tracked on my garmin watch and in fact it’s a 10 mile loop and it took us 4hrs13 mins. Going clockwise it’s a steep decent, then you’re walking through the river beds and undulating tracks until you begin to make the ascent, which is longer and less steep. There’s some fab scrambling sections, breathtaking views and it’s extremely well sign posted by the cairns. Take at least 3lts of water per person (we had only had two each and it wasn’t enough). Hope you enjoy it it as much as we did!

hiking
no shade
6 months ago

Really fun and beautiful trail! Although, it should be noted that the trail is actually around 8 miles, not 7.1 as AllTrails suggests. My partner and I hiked the loop counterclockwise on May 29th and conditions were great. We definitely preferred staring with the longer descent and then tackling the steeper ascent at the end, but if you’re not very comfortable scrambling down boulders, considering hiking the trail clockwise. Around half way through the loop the trail turns to a bit of a scramble which is easier technically if you are ascending. We also hiked about 1.5 miles up the Upheaval Canyon Trail into the dome and the whole excursion took about 6 hours. We drank about three liters of water each. Would definitely recommend!

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