Halls Creek Narrows - Capitol Reef National Park

Halls Creek Narrows

Capitol Reef National Park

          Halls Creek Narrows is a remote hike or backpack. The route detailed below uses what some refer to as "The Short Cut" and makes day hiking the route a reasonable affair for experienced hikers.

          The Halls Creek drainage is a large beautiful canyon bordered by the high cliffs of Hall Mesa on the east and the steep slickrock slopes of the Waterpocket Fold on the west. The highlight of the hike is a classic 4-mile long section of slot canyon deeply incised into the white Navajo sandstone. A trickling perennial stream and deep shade from the arching canyon walls create a cool, moist oasis in the midst of the surrounding desert.

General Information:
Click Here for Map          Halls Creek Narrows is a canyoneering hike or backpack. The canyon is rated 2B III using the canyon rating system. The Halls Creek Narrows will require approximately 9 to 10 hours to complete. This route is not a good choice for novice hikers or children. Spring and fall are the preferred times of year to complete this hike. The route is brutally hot in summer.

          Backcountry group size cannot exceed twelve people. If you plan to make this an overnight backpack, you need to obtain a free backcountry permit at the Capitol Reef Visitor Center prior to your trip.

          Keep a careful watch as there is some minor patches of poison ivy along the route. Navigation for this route is moderate; a GPS is useful. Good map reading skills and the USGS 7.5' Maps titled "Deer Point" and "Stevens Canyon North" are essential. All waypoints and maps use the WGS84 datum. The route down Halls Creek follows a combination of game trails, old wagon road and streambed.

          This canyon has a moderate flash flood danger. Use caution in slot canyons; particularly during the flash flood season (typically July-September). Check the local weather report before committing.

Halls Creek Narrows - Capitol Reef National Park Halls Creek Narrows - Capitol Reef National Park

Trailhead Information:
          Halls Creek Narrows does not require a vehicle shuttle. The trailhead is accessible to passenger cars in normal conditions. This area is criss-crossed with roads. Stay on the road described until told to turn off of it. Not all roads described are shown on the USGS map.

          From Ticaboo, Utah drive south on Highway 276 for 7.0 miles to a junction with the paved Burr Trail Road (N37 34' 32", W110 42' 43). Turn west (right) on to the paved Burr Trail Road. Follow the paved Burr Trail Road 18.5 miles to a dirt road and a small wood sign that reads "Halls Creek Overlook" (N37 44' 47", W110 54' 33"). Turn west (Left) and follow the dirt road 5.0 miles to a junction (N37 41' 17", W110 54' 43"). Turn west (right) and follow the dirt road 0.4 to a bend in the road (N37 40' 59", W110 54' 35"). passenger cars might want to park here. Those with a high clearance vehicle keep following the dirt road to the west 0.6 miles to the Airstrip Trailhead. There is no water at the Trailhead. The first pumpable water is 5.0 miles down Halls Creek in the Halls Creek Narrows.

          Some refer to the Airstrip Trailhead as the "Short Cut", this is because the Halls Creek Narrows route suggested by the National Park Service begins at the Halls Creek Overlook. The Short Cut trims over 5-miles of slogging off your route in both directions. The penalty for taking the Short Cut is the route from canyon rim to canyon floor requires moderate route finding skills.

Halls Creek Narrows - Capitol Reef National Park Halls Creek Narrows - Capitol Reef National Park

Route Information:
            From the Airstrip Trailhead (N37 40' 41", W110 54' 53) hike west and down to the obvious break in the cliff band. Work your way through the cliff band and start descending the steep exposed drainage, trending to your south (left) to avoid the cliffs below you. Do not under estimate this descent. It is steep and loose, finishing 1000-feet below you on a game trail (N37 40' 27", W110 55' 14"). Turn south (left) on the game trail and follow it for 4 miles to the start of the Halls Creek Narrows (N37 37' 58", W110 53' 13").

          At Halls Creek Narrows the trail (old wagon road) continues south over Halls Divide, but you want to follow the stream as it abandons its logical path and cuts into the Navajo sandstone on the west (right) side of the canyon. The entrance to the narrows is sudden and dramatic. A large grove of cottonwood trees is located near the entrance to the narrows. For nearly the next 4-miles the creek meanders through a deep, narrow canyon that always requires walking in water and some wading. The depth of the pools can vary greatly from year to year and from season to season. Flash floods periodically scour out the sediment, leaving pools that may require deep wading or short swims.

          After hiking through the narrows the stream will rejoin the trail (N37 37' 01", W110 52' 28") you were hiking on originally. At this point you have a choice. You can return through the narrows, but the fastest and more common route is to follow the trail (old wagon road) north as it climbs to the top Halls Divide (N37 37' 43", W110 52' 57") and descents the other side. This should put you back at the beginning of the narrows. Climbing over Halls Divide eliminates 2 1/2 miles of hiking. Return the way you came to the Airstrip Trailhead.

Halls Creek Narrows - Capitol Reef National Park Halls Creek Narrows - Capitol Reef National Park

In late 1879 the Mormon Hole-in-the-Rock expedition camped near Dance Hall Rock waiting for the development of a safe crossing for the nearby Colorado river. Charles Hall was an important part of this expedition. He stayed on at the Hole-in-the-Rock crossing hoping to make it an important one for emigrants and freighters traveling both ways across the river. The Hole-in-the-Rock crossing was used for more than a year until the travel began to decline. Hall then developed a better crossing some thirty miles upriver at what is today known as Halls Crossing. He settled at the mouth of Halls Creek in 1882 and ran a ferry crossing the Colorado River. Hall also built a wagon road down Halls Creek to his ferry at Halls Crossing. The old wagon road is now part of the trail you will be hiking along.

Halls Creek Narrows - Capitol Reef National Park Halls Creek Narrows - Capitol Reef National Park

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