On the final day of our Escalante trip we went even deeper into this desert paradise on a long hike in Coyote Gulch. This winding gorge slices through the Navajo Sandstone formation for many miles before merging with the Escalante River at Lake Powell. To truly explore and do Coyote Gulch justice I would recommend a multi-day backpack. We had only one day so we decided to make it a big one, racking up 20 miles round trip. Still that only took us as far as Jacob Hamlin Arch, the first of many stupendous natural attractions in the canyon.
We started at the Redwell trailhead which was the one which required the least amount of travel on Hole-in-my-Head Road. The first mile of trail traversed across the desert before descending into the dry and broad sandy wash of Coyote Gulch. It wasn't long before water appeared and shortly we were hiking along side a slow moving stream.
With the appearance of water the dry sandy desert was quickly replaced with a truly riparian habitat.
In addition to the grass and cottonwoods the desert plants were blooming and the undergrowth was full of critters and lizards rustling around. It's funny how loud the smallest creature can be when it's moving in a pile of leaves. A lizard sounds like a grizzly bear! (at least in my active imagination). However we did see deer tracks so evidently there really were some larger animals.
As we hiked the canyon walls became higher and the water deeper. We switched from hiking boots to sandals so we could walk in and out of the water as we and the stream wove our way down canyon.
The canyon twisted and turned on its tortuous path through the rock. Huge vaulted alcoves became common in each bend. Big walls, little people:
After four hours of hiking we reached our planned destination, Jacob Hamlin Arch, a cathedral of sandstone.
In this desert oasis we found several springs trickling out of the the red rock in fern filled hanging gardens. We could fill up our water bottles without using a filter and the water was cool and delicious to drink.
Sadly it was time to begin the long hike out and leave this awesome place. But I know I will be back. Next time I plan on spending days down here.