Hiking The Box, Utah's Pine Creek Canyon

Page Type
Trip Report
Location:
Utah, United States, North America
Date Climbed/Hiked:
Sep 8, 2015
Activities:
Hiking
Season:
Summer
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Hiking The Box, Utah's Pine Creek Canyon
Created On: Oct 10, 2015
Last Edited On: Oct 10, 2015

Overview

Pine Creek originates in southern Utah’s Aquarius Plateau at an elevation of 10100 ft and heads south to reach Escalante River. On its way down the plateau, between the elevations of 7800 to 6400 ft, Pine Creek carves a deep canyon that is referred to as The Box. A trail follows the creek at the bottom of the canyon. Since a road gives access to the upper and lower trailheads, The Box is often hiked as a 9 mile long one-way trip down the canyon.

Trip Report

Upper Trailhead Elevation: 7740 ft
Lower Trailhead Elevation: 6400 ft
One Way Hiking Distance per my GPS: 9.0 miles


Pine Creek Canyon MapMap



My lovely wife Mary and I left our vacation rental home in Escalante, UT at 6:40 a.m. and went on Posey Lake Road which turned out to be a well graded dirt road. The sun had not risen yet. The road headed north on a plateau with juniper trees and other pretty desert shrubs. An impressive line of white colored cliffs could be seen to the east. After 7.3 miles, we reached a short spur road that went to the lower trailhead. The road was actually closed to vehicles but parking was available at the beginning of the spur road. The plan was for Mary to drop me off at the upper trailhead and pick me up here at the end of the hike. There was no cell phone reception.

As we continued north, Posey Lake Road began to twist and turn going up slopes that were covered with pine trees. At 18.5 miles from Escalante, we reached the sign for the upper trailhead. There was no parking area and no trail could be seen but I knew that we were in the right place. I had read that I should go down 50 vertical feet or so to reach the creek where the trail supposedly started. No one was there. The only person that I saw all day appeared at the end of the hike 10 minutes from the lower trailhead.

Upper TrailheadUpper trailhead


I said goodbye to Mary and started the hike at 7:45 a.m. It was supposed to be an 8 mile long hike (my GPS actually measured 9 miles exactly). I told Mary I will reach the lower trailhead between 12 and 1 p.m. The sun had now risen but I was in the shade and for the next 2 hours, saw the sun only on top of the western walls of the canyon. Free roaming cows were all over the place. Went down the slope and the trail sure did appear next to the creek. There was a trail registry and a maze that stopped cattle from getting into the canyon. I soon found myself at the bottom of a deep canyon.

Beginning of the canyonStart of Canyon


During the hike, the trail crossed the creek countless times but in most places, I could just hop over the rocks without getting wet. I was glad I had worn my mountain hiking boots and not the canyoneering shoes.

Upper Canyon
Upper Canyon
Upper Canyon
Upper Canyon
Upper Canyon
Upper Canyon
Upper canyon
Upper canyon


Frequent stream crossing and picture taking was slowing me down. I was afraid that I may reach the end much later than what I had told Mary. I did not want to keep her waiting.

Upper canyon
Upper canyon
Upper canyon
Upper canyon


I was very impressed when I saw this formation on the eastern wall of the canyon.

Impressive wall


Continuing down the canyon.

Mid canyon
Mid canyon


The canyon opened up a little.

Mid canyon


At around 10 a.m. I reached the junction with Deep Creek which turned out to be an inconspicuous little steam. The sun had now risen enough to shine on me at the bottom of the canyon. The eastern walls of the canyon, of course continued to remain in the shade.

Mid canyon
Mid canyon
Mid canyon
Mid canyon


The eastern and western walls.

Mid canyon
Mid canyon


Another pretty meadow.

Mid canyon


More impressive walls.

Lower canyon
Lower canyon
Lower canyon
Lower canyon
Lower canyon
Lower canyon
Lower canyon
Lower canyon


Pine Creek.

Pine CreekPine Creek
Pine CreekPine Creek


Pine trees and meadows.

Lower canyon
Lower canyon
Lower canyon
Lower canyon



I knew that I was nearing the end of the hike.

Last bend of the canyon


The canyon ended. I walked a short distance on the beautiful plateau to reach the lower trailhead at 12:15 p.m. Was so glad to see Mary waiting in the car. What a wonderful woman.

Near lower trailhead
Lower trailhead







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Hiking The Box, Utah's Pine Creek Canyon

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