Canyonlands National Park Long Hikes

The longer hiking trails at the Island generally begin on the mesa top and descend via switchbacks to the White Rim bench. A few trails continue down to one of the rivers. Most are considered strenuous, with an elevation change of 1,000-2,000 feet, and require negotiating steep slopes of loose rock as well as sections of deep sand. Water is scarce in most areas. Trails are marked with cairns (small rock piles).

Lathrop Canyon

Length: 17 mi/27 km round-trip to the Colorado River

Start: Lathrop Trailhead

After crossing grasslands on the mesa top, this trail descends via steep switchbacks to a boulder-strewn wash that leads to the White Rim Road. Hikers can follow the spur road down into Lathrop Canyon. Three at-large camping permits are available. Groups may encounter significant traffic on the roads as well as on the river.

Murphy Loop

Length: 9 mi/14 km round-trip

Start: Murphy Point Trailhead

A few miles of hiking on the mesa top leads to a steep descent down a cliff face to a bench where the trail divides. One fork continues along Murphy Hogback, a slim mesa with great views of the White Rim Formation and the surrounding canyons. At Murphy camp, hikers follow the White Rim Road south for about a mile, then follow a rock-strewn wash back up onto the hogback. At-large backpacking only. No water.

Syncline Loop

Length: 8 mi/13 km round-trip

Start: Upheaval Dome Trailhead

This strenuous trail follows the washes on either side of Upheaval Dome, forming a loop that provides access to both the crater and the Green River near its midpoint. Total elevation change is roughly 1,300 feet. The north side of the loop passes through a riparian area where water and shade are usually available. There is one designated campsite along the trail.

Taylor Canyon

Length: 20 mi/32 km round-trip

Start: Alcove Spring Trailhead

Trail descends via steep switchbacks to a rocky wash that leads into this broad, steep-walled canyon. Hikers can follow the four-wheel-drive road to the Green River. Four at-large camping permits are available. Groups may encounter significant traffic on the roads as well as on the river. Returning to the trailhead via Upheaval Canyon reduces the round-trip mileage.

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