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To the top of the San Rafael Knob

To the top of the San Rafael Knob

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: May 15, 2009
Seasons Season: Spring
San Rafael Knob

Day four

As mentioned in previous trip reports, Andy Martin and I had been having a lot of fun visiting the peaks in the Henry Mountains such as Mt. Hillers, Holmes and Ellsworth, with a side trip taken to visit the top of Lands End, a prominence peak in the Canyonlands National Park. Day four would find us chasing another desert like peak, the San Rafael Knob.

The day began when our little alarms went off at 4:30 a.m., parked off of the highway that leads to Hanksville and I-70. By 5:30, we were heading west on I-70 making our way to the turn off for the Knob. Andy parked his Honda just off the interstate and jumped in with me as we headed down the dirt road that led to wherever we would find our "trailhead". When we reached a sign that indicated the "Devil Canyon" road, we pulled out the road directions posted on the main SP page for the Knob which read as follows:

"If you have a high clearance vehicle, I would recommend driving into Devils Canyon a short ways, before you reach an obstacle that can not be driven over (unless you have really high clearance or a 4-wheeler) which is about 3.5 miles from the interstate. If you can drive over it, you will be able to drive all the way to the San Rafael Knob." (thanks to Greg for that info).

As we made our way down this road, there were a few spots I really wouldn't want to bring a low clearance vehicle on but as it was, it became apparent that the "obstacle" Greg refers to in his directions was a spot where the road comes to a rock shelf that has a definite drop which would make it hard for most vehicles to get back up, once they had gone over it. Even though Andy was cheering me on saying "go for it", I really didn't want to take the chance of getting my truck in the position of not being able to get back up. Of course, Andy really concurred with my decision and was just kidding around that he could have easily made that bad spot in his Honda. Regardless, we needed a good 8 mile hike to warm up our muscles so I found a place where it was convenient to park, back about 100 yards from the "obstacle" which for me was a "stopper" to begin our hike from. This became our trailhead.

San Rafael Knob
The  stopper  on Devils canyon road
 The stopper

 The stopper

The hike

We followed the road as it continued on, downward until it bottomed out in a sandy wash area. While the road continued on, we took cross country short cuts in a few places but always hooked back into the road. We found a spot on the road that would have been another stopper if we could have been able to drive to that point and it was a bit under two miles from the spot we parked at. I know I wouldn't have made it past this point so I didn't mind the extra mileage as it isn't worth the time or mileage saved to put your vehicle at risk.

We did have a map of the area and some GPS waypoints and that made our navigation to the Knob pretty straightforward. As we gained the upper portion of the road, we could now see the Knob ahead of us and step by step, it kept getting closer until we found ourselves at the base of the thing. Thanks to Greg's SP page and pics posted by Mountaingazelle and Eric Willhite, we were able to nail the exact spot where the trail/route up the Knob really began. The use trail was very obvious and we really never had to guess as to where we needed to go. The actual crux of the hike comes at a spot high on the northwest ridge route where a class three section calls for good decision making. It is class three but it does have exposure and I could see why an occasional party might want a bit of protection here if the rock were wet. If icy, this spot would be a stopper but it wasn't a problem for us as finding the route across was pretty straightforward.

Once past the "crux", a trail wraps around the knob until you come to a spot where you need to go up. It is a chute and by working your way up it, class 2, you soon find yourself near the actual summit of the knob. From the top of the chute, it isn't much more than "a hop, skip and a jump" and you are there.

Final ChuteThe Chute by gjagiels
San Rafael Knob
San Rafael Knob
San Rafael Knob

View northeast

The summit

We were happy to reach the summit of the Knob and enjoy the excellent views that are to be found in all directions. Andy located the register and we were soon entertaining ourselves with entries that others had made. Particularly interesting was the party that had a dog with them as well as entries made by some of our friends. It is a fairly popular summit and the numbers of visitors seem to be increasing. Just a month prior to our visit, SP member Eric Willhite had made a visit and he has posted a nice trip report and pics at his website HERE. After a snack and the usual pictures, it was time to reverse our route and head back to the truck. We were going to link up with SP member Kadee towards the end of the day as we were going to do our final hike the next day, a 21 mile hike to pick up Mount Elliot, one of the highest spots to be found on the Book Cliffs to the east.

On the way back we began to notice a few ATV'ers on the road below the "stopper". They all made it up that obstacle with seemingly little problem so perhaps those who might have access to an ATV would have an easy way to get to the base of the San Rafael Knob.

View southward
View southeast
View southwest

Andy s summit flag
register page

Day one - Mt. Hillers
Day two - Mt. Holmes
Day three -Mt. Ellsworth as well as Land's End
Day four -San Rafael Knob
Day five -Mt. Elliot (upcoming)


Post a Comment
Viewing: 1-3 of 3

EastcoastMike - Jan 12, 2010 12:44 pm - Voted 10/10


looking area and great photos, looks like you had great weather. Utah is extremely interesting to me and I place I'd love to get to know better.


Dean - Jan 14, 2010 8:06 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Cool

Thank you Mike, I hope you get the chance to visit this part of Utah sometime, it is an incredible area. I've only lived here two years and each time I get out, I'm more impressed by what this state offers.


Dean - Jan 14, 2010 8:08 am - Hasn't voted

Re: Cool TR.

Thank you. Your pics from your trip are one of the reasons i wanted to visit this one so badly. I think the snow really adds to the feel of the area although I wouldn't want to try the crux if it were snow covered.

Viewing: 1-3 of 3



Parents refers to a larger category under which an object falls. For example, theAconcagua mountain page has the 'Aconcagua Group' and the 'Seven Summits' asparents and is a parent itself to many routes, photos, and Trip Reports.

San Rafael KnobTrip Reports