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Old Boulder Mail Trail

 
Old Boulder Mail Trail

Page Type: Route

Location: Utah, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 37.88418°N / 111.46435°W

Object Title: Old Boulder Mail Trail

Route Quality: 
 - 1 Votes
 

 

Page By: nader

Created/Edited: Sep 25, 2015 / Oct 27, 2017

Object ID: 954504

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Page Score: 83.69%  - 17 Votes 

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Overview

Old Boulder Mail Trail is a 15 mile long trail connecting the towns of Boulder and Escalante in southern Utah. It was used in the late 19th and early 20th century as a means of delivering mail to the town of Boulder.

The trail follows a juniper covered plateau at an elevation of 6500-6800 ft. The plateau is interrupted by four slick-rock canyons. East to west the canyons include: Sand Creek, Death Hollow, Mamie Creek and unnamed canyon. You will spend most of your time on Old Boulder Mail Trail crossing the canyons by going down to their bottoms and coming back up to the plateau on the other side. Except for Death Hollow, which is an impressive chasm 800 ft deep, the rest of the canyons are wide expanses of slick-rock. The old telegraph wire that used to connect Boulder to Escalante can still be seen along portions of the trail going from one tree to the next.

I was afraid that the trail might not be well defined so I hired a local guide. It actually turned out to be well cairned. Without the cairns, however, the path would not have been obvious. We did the hike on a September day when the temperature in Escalante was 90 degrees F. Do not under estimate the power of the desert sun. Wear appropriate clothing and carry more water than you think you will need. In Death Hollow, we had to cross and/or hike in the stream several times. While this helped us cool down, in cold weather the crossings can become problematic. It took us 9 hours to do the 15 mile hike. If you do it as a multi-day backpacking trip, you will get the chance to explore the canyons beyond the trail. Mamie Creek Natural Bridge can be seen one mile south of where the trail crosses the creek and is not covered in this page. Sand Creek and Death Hollow usually have running water and can be good places to overnight camp (see the link below for overnight camping). Since the Boulder trailhead is almost 1000 ft higher than the Escalante Trailhead, the trail is usually hiked from Boulder to Escalante.


Old Boulder Mail Trail
Map

Getting There

Escalante Town Trailhead:
Drive to the east end of Escalante on Route 12. Just to the east of the high school, turn north onto Cemetery Road and make an almost immediate right. Drive the dirt road east and then turn north. In less than a mile, you will reach the parking area.

Boulder Trailhead:
From Escalante, drive 24 miles east and then north on Route 12 and turn left to the Hells Backbone Road. After just a few hundred feet turn left onto an unsigned dirt road (to McGath Point). This road was somewhat muddy and rough but was passable by a passenger car when I was there. After 0.4 miles, you will go past Boulder Airstrip. Just beyond that, you will see a sign for Old Boulder Mail Trailhead.

Route

Distances are per my GPS.

Place
Elevation
Distance from Boulder Trailhead
Boulder Trailhead
6800 ft
zero miles
Sand Creek
6100 ft
2.7 miles
Plateau
6600 ft
-
Death Hollow
5750 ft
5.8 miles
Plateau
6560 ft
-
Mamie Creek
6000 ft
8.1 miles
High Point
6300 ft
-
Nameless Canyon
6220 ft
-
Plateau/View of Escalante
6750 ft
11.8 miles
Junction of Pine Creek & Escalante River
5660 ft
13.9 miles
Escalante Trailhead
5820 ft
15.0 miles




Total Uphill Boulder to Escalante
2300 ft
Total Downhill Boulder to Escalante
3300 ft




This is a description of the trail from Boulder to Escalante.

Get on the trail and follow it on the surface of a juniper covered plateau.

Juniper covered plateau
 
Near Boulder Trailhead
 


Slick-rock canyons can be seen in the distance.

Distant Canyons
 
Near Sand Creek Canyon
 


You will then start following cairns down slick-rock slopes into Sand Creek Canyon.

Descending into Sand Creek Canyon
Descending into Sand Creek
Descending into Sand Creek Canyon
Descending into Sand Creek
descending into Sand Creek Canyon
Descending into Sand Creek
Descending into Sand Creek Canyon
Descending into Sand Creek


Cross the small Sand Creek and begin going up on the other side. The old Telegraph wire will be seen along the trail going from tree to tree.

Ascending out of Sand Creek Canyon
Ascending out of Sand Creek
Ascending out of Sand Creek Canyon
Ascending out of Sand Creek
Ascending out of Sand Creek Canyon
Ascending out of Sand Creek
Ascending out of Sand Creek Canyon
Ascending out of Sand Creek
Ascending out of Sand Creek Canyon
Ascending out of Sand Creek
Ascending out of Sand Creek Canyon
Ascending out of Sand Creek


You will soon be back on the surface of a Juniper covered plateau again.

Plateau between Sand Creek & Death Hollow
Plateau between Sand Creek & Death Hollow


As you go by this formation, you will know that you are nearing Death Hollow.

Nearing Death Hollow
 


Death Hollow appears as an impressive slick-rock canyon.

Edge of Death Hollow
Death Hollow


Follow the cairns down the steep slick-rock slopes to reach the bottom of Death Hollow.

Descending into Death Hollow
Descending into Death Hollow
Descending into Death Hollow
Descending into Death Hollow
Descending into Death Hollow
Descending into Death Hollow
Descending into Death Hollow
Descending into Death Hollow
Descending into Death Hollow
Descending into Death Hollow
Descending into Death Hollow
Descending into Death Hollow


At the bottom of Death Hollow, you will find a dense growth of bushes. Turn left and follow the trail downhill crossing the stream a number of times. In one spot, we had to walk in the stream itself.

Bottom of Death Hollow
Bottom of Death Hollow
Bottom of Death Hollow
Bottom of Death Hollow
Bottom of Death Hollow
Bottom of Death Hollow
Bottom of Death Hollow
Bottom of Death Hollow
Bottom of Death Hollow
Bottom of Death Hollow
Bottom of Death Hollow
Bottom of Death Hollow
Bottom of Death Hollow
Bottom of Death Hollow
Bottom of Death Hollow
Bottom of Death Hollow


Pay attention to the walls on the right side of the canyon. In the first place where going up the walls becomes conceivable, you will see cairns that mark where you should exit the canyon.

Where you begin to climb out of Death Hollow
Where you start your climb out of Death Hollow


Follow the cairns up the steep slick-rock slopes out of Death Hollow.

Ascending out of Death Hollow
Ascending out of Death Hollow
Ascending out of Death Hollow
Ascending out of Death Hollow
Ascending out of Death Hollow
Ascending out of Death Hollow
Ascending out of Death Hollow
Ascending out of Death Hollow
Ascending out of Death Hollow
Ascending out of Death Hollow
Ascending out of Death Hollow
Ascending out of Death Hollow
Ascending out of Death Hollow
Ascending out of Death Hollow
Ascending out of Death Hollow
Ascending out of Death Hollow
Ascending out of Death Hollow
Ascending out of Death Hollow
Ascending out of Death Hollow
Ascending out of Death Hollow


Back up to the juniper covered plateau.

Plateau between Death Hollow & Mamie Creek
Plateau between Death Hollow and Mamie Creek


Descending into Mamie Creek Canyon.

Descending into Mamie Creek Canyon
Descending into Mamie Creek Canyon
Descending into Mamie Creek Canyon
Descending into Mamie Creek Canyon
Descending into Mamie Creek Canyon
Descending into Mamie Creek Canyon
Descending into Mamie Creek Canyon
Descending into Mamie Creek Canyon


Mamie Creek, no running water when we were there.

Mamie Creek
Mamie Creek


Up a ridgetop and down into nameless canyon.

Out of Mamie Creek into nameless drainage
 
Out of Mamie Creek into nameless drainage
 


Up another slick-rock slope.

Climbing out of nameless drainage
Out of nameless canyon


Antone Flat is a juniper covered plateau.

Antone Flat
Antone Flat
Antone Flat
Antone Flat


Up slick-rock slopes again.

The climb west of Antone Flat
The ascent west of Antone Flat
The climb west of Antone Flat
The ascent west of Antone Flat
The climb west of Antone Flat
The ascent west of Antone Flat
The climb west of Antone Flat
The ascent west of Antone Flat


Juniper covered plateau again.

The last plateau before descent to Escalante
The last plateau
The last plateau before descent to Escalante
The last plateau


Soon part of the town of Escalante and the farmlands to the north of it appear 1000 ft below. You are still more than 3 miles away from the end of the trail.

First view of the town of Escalante 1000 ft below
Escalante


You will then start a long descent down steep slick-rock slopes.

Descent to Escalante
Descent to Escalante
Descent to Escalante
Descent to Escalante
descent to Escalante
Descent to Escalante
Descent to Escalante
Descent to Escalante


You may think that you are close to the trailhead but don’t be fooled. Continue down to reach Pine Creek, then turn left and follow the creek down into a canyon to reach the junction with Escalante River.

Town of Escalante
Escalante
Pine Creek Canyon
Pine Creek Canyon
Pine Creek Canyon
Pine Creek Canyon
Pine Creek Canyon
Pine Creek Canyon


Turn right and follow Escalante River a short distance upstream to exit the canyon. Go through a cattle guard and look for a trail on the left that will take you uphill to reach Escalante Trailhead.

View from Escalante Trailhead
From Escalante Trailhead

Red Tape & External Links

Guidebook: “Wow Guides, Utah Canyon Country”, Kathy & Craig Copeland.

No fees or permits for day hike. For overnight camping and all other rules and regulations contact Escalante Interagency Visitor Center.

Images

Bottom of Death HollowThe climb west of Antone FlatPine Creek CanyonView from Escalante TrailheadBottom of Death HollowAscending out of Sand Creek CanyonEdge of Death Hollow
Bottom of Death HollowDescent to EscalanteDescending into Death HollowBottom of Death HollowAscending out of Death HollowAscending out of Death HollowTown of Escalante
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