Escalante River (Town to Bridge)
Description: A watery hike in the Escalante River canyon beneath beautiful high white Navajo and red Wingate Sandstone walls.
Type of Trip: The hike is best done as an overnight backpack, but can be completed as a long day hike by experienced canyon country hikers. The trip can be extended for several days if side trips are taken into lower Death Hollow or Sand Creek.
Mileage: 15 miles one-way.
Trailhead Location: To reach the Escalante Town trailhead, locate the cemetery on Hwy 12 at the east end of Escalante. Turn left into the cemetery entrance then turn right onto a dirt road that parallels Hwy 12. After approximately 0.25 mile the road will turn to the left. Continue along the road approximately another 0.25 mile to the trailhead which is located on the left side of the road. The Escalante River-Hwy 12 trailhead is located 14 miles east of Escalante on Hwy 12.
Water Availability/Hiking in Water: Water can be obtained from the Escalante River, but better quality water can be found in the perennial streams in Death Hollow and Sand Creek, from various springs and seeps along the Escalante River downstream from Death Hollow, and at the dripping wall spring in Sand Creek a short distance upstream from the river confluence. The Escalante River from town to Death Hollow occasionally dries up for long stretches during the summer months. The spring fed creeks in the lower half of Death Hollow and Sand Creek flow year round. All water should be filtered or treated before drinking. Water from the Escalante River carries a large quantity of sediment, and straining through a bandana or coffee filter is recommended before filtering or treating.
From town downstream to Death Hollow, the water is usually ankle deep. Below Death Hollow the water becomes slightly deeper, usually ankle to mid-calf with occasional knee deep crossings.
Obstacles/Technical Features: Extensive amount of river crossings/river walking.
Safety Concerns: Due to the amount of walking in water that is required, this hike is best done during warm weather months to avoid hypothermia. High water levels during spring runoff or flash floods may make walking in the river corridor impossible. Hikers should not attempt to walk in the river when water levels exceed knee depth. Hikers must be extremely cautious during flash flood season. The Escalante River drains a large area and is prone to big floods which may cause the river to rise rapidly due to runoff from side canyons. Biting deer flies can be bad in the late spring/early summer. Wear long pants to avoid bites.
Maps: USGS 7.5 minute quad: Escalante, Calf Creek