Lower Maidenwater Canyon

Lower Maidenwater
Canyon

Trachyte Creek
Canyoneering

          Lower Maidenwater Canyon is a fun hike through a classic Colorado Plateau slot canyon. Maidenwater Canyon drains the eastern slopes of the Henry's Mount Hillers. The route is an entertaining loop hike that begins and ends at a major highway eliminating the usual access issues.

General Information:
Click Here for Map          Lower Maidenwater Canyon is a great hike through a remarkable slot canyon. The route is suitable for all fit adults and older children. Total time required form trailhead to trailhead is 4 to 5 hours. Lower Maidenwater Canyon is rated 2B III using the Canyon Rating System. The canyon is easily accessible year round.

          Carry plenty of drinking water as this is a desert environment. You will be hiking much of the day in flowing water, but it's easier to carry what you need rather then dealing with the hassle of pumping drinkable water.

          Much of the route contains ankle deep wading with a couple sections of possible knee to waist deep wading. In past years the canyon has contained one very short swim, but at last report that section of canyon has filled with sand. As with all slot canyons the mentioned conditions can easily change with the next big storm.

          A GPS is useful. Good map reading skills and the USGS 7.5' Map titled "Black Table" are essential. Navigation for this route is moderate. All waypoints and maps for Lower Maidenwater use the WGS84 datum. This canyon has a moderate flash flood danger. Check the local weather report before committing.

Technical Variations:
          There is a technical variation to both Maidenwater Canyon and Trail Canyon that is located on the west side of the highway. Do not attempt the drainage to the west of the highway without complete technical gear.

Your youthful tour guide. Hank Moon in Lower Maidenwater Canyon

Maidenwater Trailhead:
          From the Utah town of Hanksville drive south on highway 95 for 26 miles to the signed turn-off to State Road 276 and Bullfrog Marina on Lake Powell. Follow State Road 276 south for just over 9 miles to mile marker 9.4. There is a small pull-out on the east side of the road just south of the drainage. This is the Maidenwater Trailhead.

          There is also abundant parking at the Trail Canyon Trailhead where you will finish your hike. The Trail Canyon Trailhead is located 0.5 miles further south on State Road 276. There is a large pull-out on the west side of the road just south of the drainage. This is the Trail Canyon Trailhead. You could leave a shuttle vehicle here but it's really not worth the effort as it only shaves off 1/2 mile of hiking.

Lower Maidenwater Canyon Check out the passage under the highway.

Lower Maidenwater Route Information:
          From the Maidenwater Trailhead (N37 53' 41", W110 34' 11"), scramble down the steep slope to the bottom of Maidenwater canyon. Once in the bottom of the canyon take a moment to admire the method the road building crew used to bridge the deep slot canyon. As an engineer I found this technique very ingenious, cost effective and simple.  However, it might not be the most environmentally sensitive bridging method available. If you explore back into the tunnel use caution and watch for the big hole.

          After inspecting the bridge from below begin hiking downstream. The good stuff begins right from the start so enjoy the show. After a short distance you will begin hiking in water as the lower sections of canyon are spring fed. Explore the side slots and surrounding area as time and your desire allow. After hiking down Maidenwater for 3 miles you will encounter Trachyte Creek (N37 53' 40", W110 31' 44").

          At the junction with Trachyte Creek turn south and follow Trachyte Creek downstream. Trachyte Creek has year round running water. After hiking down Trachyte Creek for 1/2 mile you will encounter a junction with Trail Canyon (N37 53' 21", W110 31' 29") entering from the west (right).

          Turn west and begin hiking up Trail Canyon. The hike up Trail Canyon is not nearly as interesting as Maidenwater Canyon. You will hike up Trail Canyon for 2 1/2 miles before intersecting the highway (N37 53' 17", W110 34' 04"). After reaching the highway it's an easy 1/2 mile hike north along the highway back to where you began.

Lower Maidenwater Canyon Lower Maidenwater Canyon

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