Coyote Gulch was calling my name. Of all the hikes to do in Utah, this one seemed to stick out. It was the right length, it was on my route, and the scenery appeared to be spectacular.
So spectacular that I decided to strap on the backpack for an overnight trip while I drove through Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. It was well worth the effort if you’re ever in the neighborhood.
From the Hurricane Wash trailhead, it’s just over seven miles to several excellent campsites near Jacob Hamblin Arch, one of the many stunning natural landmarks inside Coyote Gulch.
It’s a slow seven miles, however. The trail begins with three miles of hiking through desert sand. Then the rock walls start to grow taller as you get closer to Coyote Gulch, and water appears about a mile from the end of Hurricane Wash. Once in the gulch there are many creek crossings and some very slippery muddy banks to negotiate.
It took me five hours to hike it.
There’s plenty of water year-round in Coyote Gulch supporting a lush riparian habitat full of cottonwood and willow trees. The high canyon walls and cavernous rock overhangs also provide ample shade at all times of the day.
About those overhangs. They were my favorite feature of the hike. I’d never been in naturally occurring carve-outs that size before. It felt like being in a cave the size of an airplane hangar. The rock ceiling must have been 200 feet high, and the area below was at least 100 feet deep and a couple hundred feet across. These grottos made for excellent campsites.
I set up camp on a sandy beach under one of these overhangs with the creek making a wide horseshoe curve around the beach. In the other direction the canyon walls opened up just enough to create a window to the sky.
Past Jacob Hamblin Arch, it’s another 7-plus miles to the Escalante River. That stretch of trail has more creek-crossing and sandy paths that are sometimes overgrown with reeds and coyote willows.
This section is where you’ll find Coyote Natural Bridge, Black Lagoon, and Cliff Arch.
While I did a one night-two day trip, spending two nights camping in the gulch would be ideal. Permits for camping are required but are free and can be filled out at the trailhead without reservations.
Learn about all requirements and trail information HERE.
Besides Hurricane Wash, there are several other established routes into Coyote Gulch from various trailheads along Hole in the Wall Road. Red Well and Hurricane Wash are longer trails but provide easier access to the canyon. Crack in the Wall and 40-mile Water Tank offer shorter hikes into the canyon, but are more technical routes requiring ropes.