OverviewOld 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.
Getting ThereEscalante 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.
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.
RouteDistances are per my GPS.
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.
Slick-rock canyons can be seen in the distance.
You will then start following cairns down slick-rock slopes into Sand Creek Canyon.
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.
You will soon be back on the surface of a Juniper covered plateau again.
As you go by this formation, you will know that you are nearing Death Hollow.
Death Hollow appears as an impressive slick-rock canyon.
Follow the cairns down the steep slick-rock slopes to reach the bottom of 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.
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.
Follow the cairns up the steep slick-rock slopes out of Death Hollow.
Back up to the juniper covered plateau.
Descending into Mamie Creek Canyon.
Mamie Creek, no running water when we were there.
Up a ridgetop and down into nameless canyon.
Up another slick-rock slope.
Antone Flat is a juniper covered plateau.
Up slick-rock slopes again.
Juniper covered plateau again.
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.
You will then start a long descent down steep slick-rock slopes.
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.
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.
Red Tape & External LinksGuidebook: “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.