Finally!  I’m getting back to the posts on our amazing desert road trip!  Sorry for the hiatus.

When we were in Mesa Verde, my dad got into a conversation with one of the employees (as he is wont to do), discussing our upcoming plans.  When she expressed her love and familiarity with Moab, Dad asked the one question most important to him: know of any good hikes?

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

Locals are the best source of information when it comes to things like these.  They can clue you into spots the typical tourist would never find, and you can briefly feel inducted into the elite, allowed into the secret clubhouse.  Best of all: you avoid the tourist crowd, sometimes getting the trail all to yourself.

It was solidified when we asked the same question of our server upon entering Moab and the same trail was named.  This would be one we’d be checking out.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

Now, because this is a little-known, locals-only hike, I won’t widely broadcast precisely where it is.  However, if you must know where to find it, feel free to contact me, and I might just divulge the secret.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

This was a short hike – only about a mile each way – but it was unlike others I had done before.  If you find yourself on the trail, be prepared to ford the shallow creek at three crossings.  Wear shorts, and if you’re adventurous, bring a towel.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

We swung by on a whim our first evening, and we weren’t quite prepared, shortly before sunset and with long pants.  I attempted to roll my pant legs up, and that got me past the first two stream crossings.  But we turned around at the third when we saw it was just above knee-deep.  While we couldn’t quite make it to the end, we enjoyed the petroglyphs right along the path, and we scrambled along the dry rocks along the sides.

Determined to see what awaited us at the end, Dad and I returned when our schedule allowed a few days later.  This time, we started earlier, I packed my tripod, and we wore shorts (and bathing suits).

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

The first section takes you along the creek until you cross a rock slope with the petroglyphs.  Be careful here, as the ground is sloped, and the rock is smooth.  There are some decent handholds if you know where to look, and should you slip, you’d only get a little wet.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

Around another corner, and you make the first crossing.  I’d recommend water shoes if you have them; as it was, I did not.  Fortunately, this first ford is mostly smooth sand.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

I decided to just leave my shoes off through the short path until we reached the second crossing.  Dad was smart to have his walking stick; this proved a great stabilizer on the slick rocks that adorned the bottom of this section.  This one is longer and deeper than the first; step carefully.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

One more sandy trail, and one more crossing, and we found ourselves at our final destination.  It’s a bit of work, but the scene that awaits is well worth it.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

The trail dead ends at an alcove in the canyon walls where the stream tumbles down a short wall and collects into a calm pool.  Dad set off to explore the surrounding area while I walked out into the pool and set up my tripod in preparation for sunset.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

The overhang made pictures challenging, particularly while the sun was still bright; the contrast was so great.  But as the sun dipped lower, the brights were tamed, and the rocks began to glow.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

A few people stopped by for a brisk swim; the water was too cold for me to imagine that being pleasant.  Perhaps we looked a bit too much like tourists, as we got an odd look or two (“what are you doing here?”).  But for the most part, we had the place all to ourselves.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

Dad never sits still, and he found his way up along the top of the ridge and across the source of the fall.  Curious, I followed him.  The upper level is accessible only by backtracking a bit out of the alcove to where the wall slopes down low enough to climb.  Once on top, one can continue along the rock (narrow in places) and cross the waterfall (slick where wet) to view the pool from above.

We found a few new arches in the making, and the trail continues from here up along the creek, but we got what we came for, so we turned back.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016

The red rock walls were a stunning crimson as we departed, and the sky decided to grace us with some spectacular post-sunset color.  I’m glad we returned to see the trail to its main destination.  What a neat little spot!  Next time, we’ll have to see how far the trail goes, but I loved getting a small taste of this hidden Moab treat.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2016


What do you think?