UT – Wasatch Plateau, Huntington Canyon (05/22)

Famous for the Huntington Mammoth and popular with locals, this canyon was recommended by staff at the Manti-La Sal USFS office in Price. It’s NOT an area that pops up on “where to hike” apps, and wouldn’t make my WOW per mile list, but no regrets! I was glad to have a new area to explore that challenged my fitness, provided high altitude training and was just the right temperature. Every hike doesn’t need to be #epic to be worthwhile.

I launched from the town of Huntington and began the drive up Highway 31 which is known as the energy highway due to coal mining. It’s early season with roads and trails just beginning to open. I’m guessing it would be much too busy for my liking during the summer. Much of the forest was burned in 2012 and then flooded during monsoon season. Seeing the damage, recovery and intervention a decade later is a reminder of the slow process.

Tie Fork Canyon

This is one of the first trailheads off the main road. While you can drive the first 1.7 miles it’s not suitable for all vehicles. I wanted to hike so I walked the road. At the Y junction, I first went left on Wild Cattle Hollow Trail but was soon turned around by down trees. Gentry Hollow Trail is to the right. The trail was in good condition and I made it almost to Jack’s Hole junction. I was feeling the altitude and found myself huffing and puffing plenty.

Nuck Woodward Road

I met a couple of rangers upon arrival at the Stuart Guard Station. They informed me they just opened the gate to the trailhead. The “trail” starts as the road, which will be open later in the season. The 2012 burn and subsequent flooding is evident in this canyon. I decided to stick with the road this day as most likely the trails needed spring maintenance. I hiked to the Sawmill Canyon junction. I saw a bald eagle and hawk but wasn’t able to photograph either.

An example of one of the hiking trails. I could see blowdown as well as a creek crossing. Easy to choose roads walking when trail conditions are in the Type 2 category.

This is the first trail junction. I considered trying this trail but with the wildfire warning sign I suspected a lot of deadfall.

Love bear scratch trees!

I saw a fair amount of bones and skeletons. Obviously this was fairly fresh kill. The most interesting and scariest was seeing a cougar cache of an elk near the trailhead. I notified a ranger since the cache was still being actively eaten. You can smell it, the flies were happy, and about half was buried.

I camped at the trailhead and woke to snow on my face, as it blew in through my cracked windows.

It was time for a town day!

Left Fork of Huntington Creek, a National Recreation Trail

I was pleasantly surprised to find single track trail limited to hiker and equestrian traffic. It was a nice change from the previous hikes given it’s proximity to a creek. As expected there were some challenges with down trees, washed out trail, overgrowth and a tread with some slippery mud and snow sections. I hiked about 5 miles to the Scad Valley Trail junction. It would be a great backpack trail if it was in better condition.

Horsetail Fern

This was an interesting sulfur-smelling, cold-water creek.

Electric Lake, Cleveland and Huntington Reservoirs

As I traveled north I found half frozen lakes and lots of snow. It was going to be a while before those trails opened so I enjoyed exploring the lakes.

Yogi was awake!

This was the trail I planned to hike.

Nope, won’t be driving or hiking that road for a few weeks.

I found a small patch of glacier lilies while wandering around.

Huntington Mammoth

The deeper snow to the right is where the mammoth was found.

Mill Canyon Trail

I wanted to assume since the trail began with a newish bridge it might be in good shape and was worth a try. This turned out to be my most challenging hike with 2000′ elevation gain in 2.25 miles ending at 10,000′. There were a few down trees and snow blocking the trail toward the top but the elevation gain and altitude tested my fitness. This canyon has lots of aspen trees which will provide nice shade when they leaf out. I saw my one and only hiker of this trip on this trail.

And then the trail was blocked by snow, with deep postholing. Time to turn back or go for Plan B.

I found a way to the ridge where four elk greeted me.

I had a view down into the lakes basin where I’d explored the previous day. This trail provides an optional way to Candland Peak.

The ridge to the right was my Plan B when the trail was blocked by snow on the left.

Spring Beauties (?)

Tips:

  • Ask at the Price USFS office for the hiking trail map and list aka Popular Non-Motorized Trails in Huntington Canyon.
  • The town park at Huntington has clean restrooms, public WiFi, a water spigot and power outlets. Everything a traveler could ask for. The market met most of my other needs.
  • There are plenty of camping options in the canyon from paid to dispersed, some reserved and some first come. I didn’t see any garage bins nor water spigots.

Resources:

Thoughts? Questions? Comments? Broken Links? I'd love to hear from you!

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