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Open Roads Forum  >  Truck Campers

 > And So It Continues - North Long Point and Trail Canyon

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seldomseensmith

Flagstaff, AZ

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Posted: 09/26/09 11:44am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I've waited quite a while to explore Dark Canyon and the surrounding area, and truthfully it's a bit more than I can do in a few days, which is all I have this trip. Even so, you get a pretty good idea of the range of environments - high desert canyons, buttes, and sub-alpine mountains can all be explored here in the same day.

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Dark Canyon itself is designated as wilderness, leaving the majority of it's depths to be explored on foot. The lone exception is the Peavine Corridor, a 4x4 road that drops into the canyon near the Notch. I really wanted to try and get down it in my truck, but I could find no recent source of info on road conditions, and all references I've gotten my hands on emphasize the difficulty of the trail - This is a great example of how a jeep or ATV would be very useful in this country, and it's not the last time I'll think that on this trip.

Since my only other option for exploring in the canyon is on foot, I pick a likely looking trail on the northwest end called Trail Canyon. To get there I need to leave Elk Ridge road behind and journey out North Long Point, a large peninsula jutting into the gorge.

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The drive is very pleasant, meandering through a mixed forest of pine, aspen and oak. Along the way there a few spur roads which lead to views of the surrounding canyon.

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I also saw more wildlife, especially turkey.

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Before dropping off North Long Point, the view opens up the north. After this point, the roadbed descends steeply to the lower plateau below, and is composed of red silt stone - the sort of stuff that becomes very treacherous when wet.

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Trail Canyon is one of many trails that drop into Dark Canyon. It connects with the the Woodenshoe trail which circumnavigates the canyon bottom.

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As I walked along the trail, it become very obvious that this area sees VERY few people. The trail is in pretty sad shape, and it was really more of a controlled scramble over rocks and ledges. The good news is that the direction is obvious - down.

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Trail Canyon is just that - a canyon. The erosion of millenia has carved a natural channel into the sandstone, creating another path for runoff into the main stem. Near the upper sections, views into the gorge are good, however as the trail drops trees and narrow walls loom overhead, reducing visibility.

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Eventually the trail winds up in the in the drainage itself - the walking is easier, but not a good place to be during a thunderstorm!

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In fact, clouds begin to gather overhead, darkening the sky and producing intermittent rumbles above the rim - my tipoff to turn around and head out. I am disappointed, because I've heard there are some really nice cliff dwellings further downstream. Next time, I guess.

The hike out is just as steep and rocky as the hike in, but the scenery makes up for it.

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After returning to the trailhead, I decide to find a spot nearby to spend the night.

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I locate a great spot at the edge of another small tributary canyon. The view into the canyon just makes me want to come back in the future and really get into it.

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The next morning I decide to continue on the road a bit, just to get a sense of how the land lays. The map shows the road entering BLM land, and heading west, eventually reaching a possible overlook of the Colorado River above the confluence with the Dirty Devil River. I won't make it all the way out there this trip, but someday....

My campsite on the edge of the canyon the night before is very nice, but let's just say getting in and out is a bit tight. All I can say is thank goodness for folding mirrors!

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Another interesting landmark appears just off the road - This area was prospected heavily in the mid-1900's for all kinds of minerals, but primarily uranium. This drill hole marker has some interesting information on it.

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"Sinclair Dark Canyon No. 1"

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"SW.SW. 36-33S 18E"

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"San Juan Co. Utah 1945" Later on I run into an older couple out jeeping on these roads, and the fellow tells me that he grew up in Blanding (the nearest town), and used to come out here all the time with his father, who worked for the Forest Service. He said he was around when most of these roads and trails were built. I bet he has some great stories to tell - in the few minutes we spoke he seemed like a really nice guy.

After poking around for a bit I decide that there are still other places I want to get to on this visit, so I head back towards Elk Ridge road.

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Next up: Beef Basin - it's what's for dinner (and breakfast and lunch)


The Road Goes Ever On



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turtletalk

NC

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Posted: 09/26/09 02:43pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

We were so glad to see a new post of your trips.What a treat- both pics and trip report.thanks

Matho

New Mexico Texas

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Posted: 09/26/09 03:15pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

That is a nice area. Thanks for showing.


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cewillis

Tucson, az, usa

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Posted: 09/26/09 03:16pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

You're really showing some great places to go, Eric. One could do a lot worse than follow your trails.


Cal


AKDH

Alaska

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Posted: 09/26/09 03:38pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I always wanted to explore these areas. My attempt had to be cut short due to mud and snow near Boundary Butte in early spring.

A good rainstorm on that red silt could extend your vacation a few days if you couldn't drive back out of a spur road.

Please tell me the next installment will show you taking the camper past Beef Basin, through The Grabens, and Elephant Hill.

Camper_Jeff_&_Kelli

Seattle

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Posted: 09/26/09 03:46pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Your showing some really nice stuff. Like the turkeys and other critters.

Since you are out in the sticks, I assume you have a satellite internet connection. Can you mention some details about that?

Thanks for sharing.

* This post was edited 09/26/09 04:39pm by an administrator/moderator *


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DonCurley

La Sal, Utah

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Posted: 09/26/09 04:05pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

seldomseensmith wrote:

Dark Canyon itself is designated as wilderness, leaving the majority of it's depths to be explored on foot. The lone exception is the Peavine Corridor, a 4x4 road that drops into the canyon near the Notch. I really wanted to try and get down it in my truck, but I could find no recent source of info on road conditions, and all references I've gotten my hands on emphasize the difficulty of the trail - This is a great example of how a jeep or ATV would be very useful in this country, and it's not the last time I'll think that on this trip.

Eric,

I have been reading your latest exploits with great interest, and the pics and write-up have been first class as usual.

As you know, when you and I last traded messages on the Dark Canyon area, I had intended to pre-run the area in my Jeep (especially the Peavine Corridor), to see what was manageable in a pickup/Outfitter rig versus what was strictly the domain of a smallish 4x4 vehicle. Unfortunately, my Jeep is currently in the shop getting some needed mods, so it won't be available until mid-October. Whether I can do it before winter hits here, or I have to pick it up in the spring, I will still do so and report back. However, as before, my hunch is that the Peavine Corridor will be too rough for any form of a full-sized truck/pop-up TC rig to get in there without the potential for getting stuck or damaged. But, we'll see.

Don


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DonCurley

La Sal, Utah

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Posted: 09/26/09 04:13pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

AKDH wrote:

Please tell me the next installment will show you taking the camper past Beef Basin, through The Grabens, and Elephant Hill.

Beef Basin and Ruin Park would definitely be doable as I am sure Eric will shortly be showing us. But getting through Bobby's Hole into the southern access to the Needles District (far less the Grabens and Elephant Hill itself), would strictly be nothing short of an impossibility with a truck/pop-up TC rig. [emoticon]

trails2004

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Posted: 09/26/09 04:31pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Very nice thanks it looks like you had a great time and great roads [emoticon]

seldomseensmith

Flagstaff, AZ

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Posted: 09/26/09 04:47pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

DonCurley wrote:



As you know, when you and I last traded messages on the Dark Canyon area, I had intended to pre-run the area in my Jeep (especially the Peavine Corridor), to see what was manageable in a pickup/Outfitter rig versus what was strictly the domain of a smallish 4x4 vehicle. Unfortunately, my Jeep is currently in the shop getting some needed mods, so it won't be available until mid-October. Whether I can do it before winter hits here, or I have to pick it up in the spring, I will still do so and report back. However, as before, my hunch is that the Peavine Corridor will be too rough for any form of a full-sized truck/pop-up TC rig to get in there without the potential for getting stuck or damaged. But, we'll see.

Beef Basin and Ruin Park would definitely be doable as I am sure Eric will shortly be showing us. But getting through Bobby's Hole into the southern access to the Needles District (far less the Grabens and Elephant Hill itself), would strictly be nothing short of an impossibility with a truck/pop-up TC rig.


Don


I chose not to run Peavine because of time and lack of knowledge regarding current trail conditions - I'm pretty sure I could've made at least part of the trip, at least to the bottom, but all I've read indicates the section out to Rig Canyon and Scorup cabin would be impassable for a longer wheelbase truck.

I also did some very preliminary scouting of the upper part, and the oak scrub has narrowed the road to a very tight corridor, meaning to do it I'd have to ignore the horrible scraping sound of driver applied pinstriping - I've done it before, and will eventually do it again, but not until my truck has at least 50,000 miles on it!

I hope you do get around to running it in your jeep - I'd love to see pics and hear about trail conditions.

As to Beef Basin, well you are right - I'll be posting that one up next. I can tell you in advance, as Don said there is no way I'd get past Bobby's Hole to the Needles with my TC, or I'd have already done it! [emoticon]

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