Quick start guide: Hayduke Trail

For years I’ve needed to explore the American Southwest, with its iconic partitions, rock formations, and mesas. However as a university scholar I’ve all the time struggled to get on the market, because of the summertime heat and aridity.

This yr, nevertheless, report snowpack within the Four Corners stored the area wet later in the season. So I marked my calendar for a section-hike of the Hayduke Trail.

Wanting over Arches Nationwide Park.

What’s the Hayduke Trail?

The Hayduke Trail is just not a path. Somewhat, it’s an 800-mile network of standalone trails, dust roads, and off-trail segments that type a semi-cohesive route. It was pioneered in the late-1990’s by Joe Mitchell and Mike Coronella, who spent tons of of days exploring the region.

The identify “Hayduke” pays homage to the primary character in The Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward Abbey, a fictional story that takes place on this area.

In the unique guidebook, the Hayduke Trail is broken into fourteen sections, the start and finish of which is relatively accessible.

What Will I See?

Because the founders clarify it, the Hayduke Trail is, “not intended to be the most direct route, but rather, to showcase the stunning beauty of the southwestern United States.” I might concur. The route starts and finishes in a National Park and passes by way of two more along the best way, in addition to three National Monuments.

Beneficial Course and Spring Challenges

The Hayduke is traditionally hiked westbound, beginning in Arches National Park and finishing in Zion Nationwide Park, because the western half of the route receives extra and later snowfall than the japanese half.

Sections of the route which are most certainly to be snowbound in the spring embrace:

  • Mt. Ellen (Section 5)
  • Bryce Canyon National Park (Section 9)
  • Kaibab Plateau (Part 10 and elements of Part 11, as well as Part 13)
  • Zion National Park (Section 14)

1. Scheduling

The HDT is about 800 miles long. Robust hikers can complete it in 40 to 50 days by averaging 16 to 20 miles per day, including relaxation days and excluding delays for journey or climate. The sweet spot for section-hikes is 1 to 2 weeks, which is sufficient time to seek out your rhythm, join with the trail, and have a resupply or two.

Until you are a hardened thru-hiker with a monitor report, I might permit for one zero-day per week. The Hayduke passes via tough country, and the sun is intense — both take their toll.

Build some cushion for travel delays when you must hitch, bus, or shuttle to/from a regional airport. It’s annoying to be racing towards the clock.


The Hayduke rewards fast hikers with frequent water sources, which are usually spread out. For those who can cover giant distances shortly, you’ll be able to avoid caching water beforehand and you may scale back water masses between sources.

Miles on the Hayduke are of two varieties: quick and sluggish. Quick miles are on filth roads, flat mesas, and sandy canyon bottoms. Sluggish miles contain tough climbs out of and descents into canyons, brushy bushwhacks, dicey slickrock scrambles, and cryptic off-trail navigation.

Straddling the hole in Arches Nationwide Park. This was a relatively straightforward wash to maneuver by way of. There were others that weren’t so easy. photograph taken by Sam Chaneles

Andrew’s recommendation to me was to estimate your “Hayduke” mileage as 75% of your normal “trail” mileage. I feel that’s a reasonably good estimate. On the Hayduke I averaged round 23 miles per day in 12-14 hours, with around 1500-2500′ of elevation achieve per day. My normal “trail” mileage can be closer to 30 miles with Three,000-Four,000′ per day, so there’s a clear downtick for the Hayduke.

Andrew’s estimate of day by day mountaineering distances, adjusted for the Hayduke. That is pretty correct. No need for me to reinvent the wheel. courtesy Andrew Skurka

When to go

To maintain the Hayduke protected and fun, it’s essential to time your hike to stability temperatures and water availability.

Within the winter, there’s ample water however freezing cold circumstances.

In the summertime, it’s dry and wickedly scorching.

The candy spot is March by way of Might: there’s still enough water, but temperatures are manageable.

I hiked in Might 2019. High temperatures have been in the 80’s, however with low humidity I discovered it pleasant. At night time the temperatures dropped into the 40’s or 50’s, relying on the elevation.


Under I’ve included normal monthly temperature and precipitation knowledge for 3 places:

  • Phantom Ranch, AZ, for instance of the most well liked elements of the Hayduke;
  • Bryce Canyon, UT, for instance of the coldest elements of the Hayduke;
  • Hanksville, UT, as a location in between.

Temperature knowledge:

Preciptation knowledge:

For snowpack, contact backcountry rangers and native outfitters with pointed questions. Also consult NOAA’s Interactive Snow Info Map.

Larger elevations of the Hayduke might be snowbound properly into March. Discover Mt. Ellen because the blue dot in the middle of the display seize.

For water, use Andrew’s Hayduke Trail Bundle, which includes a water sheet. Later within the season and/or after dry winters, you might have to cache water. As a precaution, all the time be skeptical of water availability.

Getting there

For each thru- and section-hikers, reaching the Hayduke Trail could be difficult. The route begins in a distant part of Arches National Park, and it travels by way of a number of the least inhabited and developed regions of the nation.

1. Dig By way of Your Contacts. . . Find Those Buddies

For my section-hike of the Hayduke, I relied heavily on pals who lived or have been travelling within the space to satisfy me at remote trailheads and supply me with my resupply. This was a pleasant luxury to have. I might mail my resupply package deal to them and specify the meet-up location with a shared Google Maps pin. We might meet up on the pin, change the resupply, and carry on going.

2. Rome2Rio

For a lot of of my previous trips I’ve relied heavily on Rome2Rio as a search engine for attending to and from remote trailheads (see my weblog submit). Enter your origin and vacation spot, and Rome2Rio will show you options of how you can get there utilizing planes, trains, and cars.

A display from Rome2Rio of how one can get from A to B.

For a lot of the Hayduke, Rome2Rio won’t get you much, merely telling you that driving by your self or personal shuttle are the one options.

Personal Transportation

Unfortunately, public transportation throughout the desert southwest is just not nicely established. It’s remote, open country.

Personal shuttle providers are available for hire, notably close to cities like Moab, St. George, the Grand Canyon, and so on. They are costly, but permit you a large amount of flexibility. Some personal shuttle providers embrace:


Backcountry or wilderness permits are required by some land businesses. Each system is totally different.

Arches Nationwide Park

Permits are issued in individual at the Arches National Park Customer Middle as much as 7 days beforehand.

Canyonlands Nationwide Park

“You can make a reservation no more than four months, and no less than two days, before the permit start date. For very popular sites, you may have to make a reservation at midnight mountain time, exactly four months before the start date. ” – courtesy Canyonlands NP website

Capitol Reef Nationwide Park

“All backcountry users are required to have a free permit. Hayduke Trail hikers, please email the park for information related to permits for the section of the trail within Capitol Reef National Park.” – courtesy Capitol Reef NP website

Bryce Canyon Nationwide Park

“A Backcountry Permit is required for all overnight stays in the backcountry. Permits may be purchased at the Visitor Center from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.”- courtesy Bryce Canyon NP web site

Grand Canyon Nationwide Park

The Grand Canyon recieves heavy backcountry visitors. Thankfully, the Hayduke is often in distant areas, so the permits aren’t in-demand like the primary corridors. Still, apply early.

Software home windows for Grand Canyon National Park.

Zion National Park

Overnight stays in the backcountry require a permit, which could be reserved as much as 3 months forward of time. Stroll-up permits can be found up to someday forward of time.

Glen Canyon National Recreation Space

“A backcountry permit is required for overnight stays in the Escalante District of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.”

As talked about, making use of early solely helps your probabilities of securing the required permits. Typically occasions your permits could be modified in case your trip dates change. Many national park rangers understand what “hiking the Hayduke” entails, and can permit for a larger degree of flexibility when applying for permits. That stated, don’t rely on their generosity.


Southern Utah and northern Arizona are calmly inhabited, and there are few outposts of civilization. The Hayduke passes via just a few cities, and it only sometimes crosses paved roads. Your greatest guess shall be associates in the area (in case you have any) and locals, as well as a couple of self-supply alternatives:

Moab, UT (part 1)

Part 1 passes instantly by means of Moab, UT, where there are grocery shops, a US publish workplace, and lots of different provides and providers. This is a simple resupply, but very early into the trip.

Hite, UT and Hanksville, UT (section Four)

Part Four takes you previous Hite, UT, where there’s a basic retailer with some primary provisions for hikers, corresponding to path mix, granola bars, and so forth. You will NOT have cell service in Hite.

The top of Part 4 is alongside Utah State Route 95, a brief hitchhike from Hanksville, UT, which has a grocery store, submit office, a number of eating places, and different providers.

Henrieville, UT and Cannonville, UT (part 7)

The top of Part 7 will get you near the small cities of Henrieville, UT and Cannonville, UT. Each have a US submit office, a couple of motels and lodges. Not a lot else.

Jacob Lake, AZ (section 10)

Section 10 intersects loads of filth roads, US Hwy 89A, in addition to the town of Jacob Lake, AZ. There’s a Chevron fuel station and the Jacob Lake Inn in Jacob Lake.

Remember that the street to the North Rim from Jacob Lake doesn’t open till Might 15 most years, so verify for closures. This may increasingly not influence your potential to hike, however might have an effect on the supply of assets within the area and the convenience of hitchhiking.

Grand Canyon, AZ (section 12 & 13)

The South Rim of the Grand Canyon has a full grocery retailer and plenty of lodging and campgrounds, however that you must hike up and out for them. There’s a primary mess hall at Phantom Ranch just as you cross over the Colorado River; meals and meals are very costly right here though. You might in all probability mail your package deal to Phantom Ranch, but would probably pay a reasonably penny to do so, as all supplies are carried down by mule to Phantom Ranch.

Primary snacks and beverages are available for purchase on the North Rim within the North Rim village; remember that the North Rim Village does not usually open till Might 15. The Grand Canyon Lodge receives packages and has a full retailer, as well as laundry, but doesn’t open until Might 15 most years.

Colorado Metropolis, AZ and Zion NP (part 14)

Section 14 will take you near Colorado City, AZ, the place there are a couple of eating places, lodging options, and places to buy groceries and provides. Section 14 ends in the coronary heart of Zion National Park, where there are free park shuttles to visitors facilities and different providers.

Gear Issues

Gear for the Hayduke will range enormously relying on what time of yr you determine to aim the route. Earlier in the season, you’ll be coping with chilly; later, the heat. So packing will differ. A couple of year-round circumstances that ought to be accounted for are:


My gear laid out in the sand on the end of a day. As a lot as I’ll have tried to shake out the powder-like sand, it nonetheless found methods of sticking to my clothes and gear.

Your garments, shelter, and sleeping bag will doubtless get sandy — your complete area is made from the stuff. Typically occasions you’ll be able to just shake it out or off, but hold it in thoughts. Particularly contemplate sand when choosing your footwear; contemplate that highly breathable footwear with porous membranes will shortly fill with unfastened, powder-like sand.

Contemplate Wind

A lazy pitch resulting in a wind tunnel.

A lot of the Hayduke is about on huge desert plateaus, which may mean excessive winds, especially in the course of the stormier months of February and March. Maintain wind in thoughts when choosing your shelter. In case you go for a standard tent, contemplate that you may be pitching your tent in unfastened sand. Should you opt for a tarp of some type, think about how you will pitch the tarp in unfastened sand, and think about your tarp geometry.

Water Weight

YUM! Some sandy water, pre-Sawyer filter. Undoubtedly deliver a plunger to backflush your Sawyer, in case you plan to use one.

Water might be sparse, which can imply that you will typically be carrying most of your weight in water. I typically carried around 3-Four L, or round 6-7 lbs of water.

Challenges and requisite expertise

Evaluate your map and compass expertise

Much of the Hayduke is overland, off-trail travel. You will have to be snug following landmarks, akin to canyon washes and rivers, as opposed to trail blazes.

Get snug with scrambling

When travelling by means of canyons you will want to scramble up and down pour-offs, lots of that are Class 3, a few of which may verge on Class 4.

Perceive you’ll probably be alone

It’s unlikely you will notice many individuals on the HDT, particularly in the course of the extra distant sections outdoors of often trafficked areas like national parks. In contrast to the AT, which sees hundreds of hikers yearly, the HDT may see 100 per yr, and that’s in all probability an overestimate.

Get ready for bushwhacking, river crossings, and plenty of mud

The Hayduke may be tough; there can be sections where you’ll have to cross rivers and streams, push by means of dense brush, and slosh by means of thick mud that verges on quicksand.

Sloshing via Courthouse Wash in Arches NP

More Info


The definitive guide was revealed by the route founders, Joe Mitchel and Mike Coronella. The Hayduke Trail: A Guide to the Backcountry Mountaineering Trail on the Colorado Plateau

After his thru-hike in 2009, Andrew Skurka developed the Hayduke Trail Bundle, which is meant to enrich the guidebook. It consists of crucial assets like maps, datasheets, resupply info, and a water sheet. Some info is now displaying its age.

Group teams

There is a devoted group for the Hayduke Trail, as well as extra basic groups resembling Mountaineering Utah and Mountaineering Arizona, which may be useful for basic questions on transportation, logistics, circumstances, and so on.

Threads like r/WildernessBackpacking and r/Ultralight have occasional posts from HDT hikers, and may also be a very good resource for asking inquiries to seasoned hikers.


Extra assets are also obtainable on the Hayduke Trail web site underneath Assets.

Questions concerning the Hayduke Trail? Depart a comment.