Cottonwood Trail and Exploring BLM Land

A nice walk with good friends

Tom and I tried to rent a jeep in Kanab.  We really did.  We had places we wanted to go and we didn’t want to drive our truck with its very stiff suspension on a lot of rough roads.  There are so many dirt roads that lead to wonderful slot canyons in the BLM land around Kanab.  The day we ended up at Cottonwood Trail is an example.

We picked up the jeep we rented and got instructions on using the safety equipment with it.  We filed a planned route in case we got stuck someplace.  Then we set out on our adventure.  Our plan was to hike Wire Pass and some of Buckskin Gulch.

One of the gullies on Cottonwood Trail

Fortunately we brought Ranger Sarah with us and she wanted to stop at the BLM Information Center to get a patch.  While we were there, we asked about the road to Wire Pass and found out that the last monsoon storm had washed away the road.  Instead of a road there was an eight foot gulch.  Yikes!  Well, plan B:  how was Cottonwood Canyon Road?  Fine up to . . . but then also washed out.  Okay, plan C:  how was Skutumpah Road?  Well, if you could get past the valley at the beginning where the road used to be, then it should be fine.  Hmmm.

All out of plans, we returned the jeep to the rental center.  They were surprised so many roads were washed out.  But the storm the week before had dumped five inches of rain in an hour and they were used to dirt roads washing out.  They charged us for an hour and let us leave the jeep behind.  Plan D?  Hike the Cottonwood Trail on the west side of Kanab.

Cottonwood Trail follows the base of the cliffs and offers panoramic views of the valley surrounding Kanab.  The trail is well marked and has lots of ups and downs as you navigate the gullies that flow from the cliffs.  The trail is about five miles long.  We did not intend to hike all of it, but decided to follow it for a couple of hours, eat lunch, and then hike back.

Trail map
Panoramic view
Another cliff

The trail was beautiful – just another example of the kinds of trails you find everywhere on BLM land.  We didn’t see anyone else on the trail.  We had a great time regaling each other with tall tales.  Ranger Sarah is a great hiking companion.  At noon we ate lunch at a high point with a great view and headed back toward the truck.  Sarah and Tom could have hiked a lot more but my knees and ankles were getting tired.  Better to turn around before you are exhausted!

One of the things we have learned about the wilderness is that nature is not always cooperative.  We were disappointed we couldn’t do the hike we planned or drive on the wild dirt roads.  But we were also thankful that we stopped to get the most current information.  The Cottonwood Trail hike was beautiful with the bonus of not being in fear of our lives.