Big Spring/Squaw/Elephant Canyon Loop

Page Type
Route
Location:
Utah, United States, North America
Route Type:
Hiking
Time Required:
Most of a day
Difficulty:
Hike

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Big Spring/Squaw/Elephant Canyon Loop
Created On: Oct 25, 2014
Last Edited On: Oct 26, 2017

Overview

The loop described here takes you into the lush upper parts of Big Spring Canyon where you go up a slicrock pass with commanding views and then descend into Squaw Canyon. The trail continues up another pass into Elephant Canyon and then out of the canyon onto a slickrock plateau before returning to the trailhead. Along the way, you will get views of spectacular sandstone formations and go through three areas of narrows.

Getting There

From Moab Utah, take Route 191 forty miles south and then turn west (right) onto Utah Route 211. Follow this road 35 miles to reach the Needles District entrance station (make sure you do not mistakenly take the “Needles Overlook Road” off of Route 191 a few miles before Route 211). From the entrance station, follow the road 2.7 miles and turn left onto Squaw Flat Campground. At the fork, take the left branch to reach the trailhead.

Route Description

MapMap




Total Hiking Distance: 10.8 miles


Trailhead to Big Spring Canyon, 1.2 miles
Almost immediately after leaving the trailhead, you will reach a split. Left goes to Lost Canyon/Peekaboo. Turn right. The trail takes you through a series of boulders creating somewhat of a “narrows”.

Boulders near trailheadNarrows


The trail takes you up to a place where you can see a plain below to the east. A junction will appear on the right taking you to Campsite B. Stay on the left.

Near Squaw Flat TrailheadPlain


You will then descend into Big Spring Canyon and reach another junction. Right will get you out of the canyon. Turn Left (you will come back via the trail on the right at the end of the day).

Elephant CanyonBig Spring Canyon


Big Spring Canyon to Jct. with Squaw Canyon, 2.6 miles
Continue on the trail up Big Spring canyon. As you keep going, colorful walls appear to the south and the area becomes lush.

Big Spring Canyon

Big Spring Canyon

Big Spring Canyon

Big Spring Canyon


A “tower” will come to view. You will eventually go to the other side of this tower.

Big Spring CanyonTower


The trail will get you out of the canyon to go up a slickrock saddle between Big Spring Canyon and Squaw Canyon.

SaddleSaddle


Views from the saddle.

From the saddleBig Spring Canyon from the saddle

From the saddle

Squaw Canyon from the saddleSquaw Canyon from the saddle


Follow the cairns down the slickrock slopes. You will now be behind the “tower” that you saw earlier.

Back of the towerBack side of the tower


Squaw Canyon & Branch of Elephant Canyon, 2.1 miles
The trail does not go all the way down to the bottom of Squaw canyon. You will remain a little above it. At a junction, left goes downstream of Squaw Canyon. Continue right.

Squaw Canyon

Squaw Canyon

Squaw Canyon


You will then reach a tight slot. The trail takes you right into this slot.

The very tight narrowsTrail goes through this slot

Inside the narrowsInside the slot


Spectacular walls at the south end of Squaw Canyon.

Squaw Canyon

Squaw Canyon

Squaw Canyon

Squaw Canyon

Squaw Canyon


Follow the cairns up to another slickrock saddle between Squaw Canyon and a branch of Elephant Canyon. You will have to go up a steel ladder bolted into the rock on one side and come down the other.

Near the saddleSaddle


Views from the saddle.

From the saddleBranch of Elephant Canyon from the saddle

From the saddleFrom the saddle


Follow the trail at the bottom of the branch of Elephant Canyon.

Branch of Elephant Canyon

Branch of Elephant Canyon

Branch of Elephant Canyon


Elephant Canyon, 0.8 miles
At the next junction you will reach Elephant Canyon. Left goes up canyon to Druid Arch. Turn right and go down canyon.

Elephant Canyon

Elephant Canyon

Elephant Canyon

Elephant Canyon

Elephant Canyon


Out of Elephant Canyon, 0.6 miles
After 0.8 miles, you will reach a T. Left goes to Chesler Park. Turn right and go up the slope out of the canyon.

Hiking out of Elephant CanyonOut of Elephant Canyon


You will then go through an area of narrows.

Approaching the narrowsApproaching Narrows

Approaching the narrowsApproaching Narrows

The NarrowsNarrows


Slickrock Plateau, 2.3 miles
At the junction, left goes to Elephant Hill Trailhead, continue right.

Slickrock Plateau

Slickrock Plateau

Hole in the rock

Slickrock Plateau


You will then reach the rim of a branch of Big Spring Canyon.

Branch of Big Spring CanyonBranch of Big Spring Canyon


Follow the trail on a slickrock plateau until it descends into Big Spring Canyon where you will reach the junction you were at near the beginning of the hike.

Slickrock Plateau

Slickrock Plateau

Slickrock Plateau

Slickrock Plateau

Slickrock Plateau

Slickrock Plateau

Slickrock Plateau


Return to Trailhead, 1.2 miles



Essential Gear

Hiking Equipment.






Big Spring/Squaw/Elephant Canyon Loop

Route
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Geography

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Parents

The NeedlesRoutes