Quickstart Guide: Hayduke Trail – Andrew Skurka

Go to Engineered for Adventure for extra details about and by Sam.

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

This yr, nevertheless, report snowpack within the Four Corners stored the area wet later within 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 shouldn’t be a path. Moderately, it’s an 800-mile community 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 lots of of days exploring the area.

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 region.

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

What Will I See?

As 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 begins and finishes in a Nationwide Park and passes via two more along the best way, in addition to three National Monuments.

Beneficial Path and Spring Challenges

The Hayduke is historically hiked westbound, beginning in Arches Nationwide Park and ending 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 might be more than likely to be snowbound in the spring embrace:

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

1. Scheduling

The HDT is about 800 miles lengthy. Robust hikers can complete it in 40 to 50 days by averaging 16 to 20 miles per day, together with relaxation days and excluding delays for journey or weather. The candy spot for section-hikes is 1 to 2 weeks, which is enough 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 document, I might permit for one zero-day per week. The Hayduke passes by way of tough country, and the sun is intense — both take their toll.

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


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

Miles on the Hayduke are of two varieties: quick and sluggish. Fast miles are on dust roads, flat mesas, and sandy canyon bottoms. Sluggish miles involve 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 means of. There were others that weren’t really 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 around 23 miles per day in 12-14 hours, with round 1500-2500′ of elevation achieve per day. My regular “trail” mileage can be closer to 30 miles with 3,000-4,000′ per day, so there is a clear downtick for the Hayduke.

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

When to go

To keep 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 but freezing chilly circumstances.

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

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

I hiked in Might 2019. Excessive temperatures have been within the 80’s, but with low humidity I discovered it nice. At night time the temperatures dropped into the 40’s or 50’s, depending on the elevation.


Under I’ve included normal monthly temperature and precipitation knowledge for three 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. Additionally seek the advice of NOAA’s Interactive Snow Info Map.

Larger elevations of the Hayduke could be snowbound nicely into March. Discover Mt. Ellen as 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, chances are you’ll 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 challenging. The route begins in a distant a part of Arches Nationwide Park, and it travels via a few of the least inhabited and developed areas of the country.

1. Dig By means of Your Contacts. . . Find These Associates

For my section-hike of the Hayduke, I relied heavily on associates who lived or have been travelling within the space to satisfy me at remote trailheads and supply me with my resupply. This was a nice luxurious 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, trade the resupply, and carry on going.

2. Rome2Rio

For a lot of of my past journeys I’ve relied closely on Rome2Rio as a search engine for getting to and from distant trailheads (see my weblog submit). Enter your origin and destination, and Rome2Rio will show you choices of how one can get there using planes, trains, and cars.

A show from Rome2Rio of tips on how to get from A to B.

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

Personal Transportation

Unfortunately, public transportation all through the desert southwest isn’t properly established. It’s distant, open nation.

Personal shuttle providers are available for rent, notably near towns like Moab, St. George, the Grand Canyon, and so forth. They’re costly, however permit you a great amount of flexibility. Some personal shuttle providers embrace:


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

Arches National Park

Permits are issued in individual at the Arches Nationwide Park Visitor Middle up to 7 days beforehand.

Canyonlands National 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 website

Grand Canyon National Park

The Grand Canyon recieves heavy backcountry visitors. Thankfully, the Hayduke is often in remote areas, so the permits usually are not in-demand like the primary corridors. Nonetheless, apply early.

Software windows for Grand Canyon Nationwide Park.

Zion Nationwide Park

In a single day stays in the backcountry require a allow, which may be reserved up to Three months ahead of time. Walk-up permits can be found as much as someday ahead of time.

Glen Canyon Nationwide Recreation Space

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

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


Southern Utah and northern Arizona are frivolously 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 might be associates within the space (when you have any) and locals, as well as a number of self-supply alternatives:

Moab, UT (section 1)

Part 1 passes immediately by means of Moab, UT, the place there are grocery stores, a US publish workplace, and lots of different provides and providers. That is a simple resupply, however very early into the journey.

Hite, UT and Hanksville, UT (section Four)

Section Four takes you previous Hite, UT, the place there is a common retailer with some primary provisions for hikers, akin to trail combine, granola bars, and so on. You’ll 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 retailer, submit office, a number of eating places, and different providers.

Henrieville, UT and Cannonville, UT (part 7)

The top of Part 7 gets you close to the small towns of Henrieville, UT and Cannonville, UT. Each have a US publish office, a couple of motels and lodges. Not a lot else.

Jacob Lake, AZ (part 10)

Part 10 intersects loads of dust roads, US Hwy 89A, as well as the city of Jacob Lake, AZ. There’s a Chevron fuel station and the Jacob Lake Inn in Jacob Lake.

Needless to say the street to the North Rim from Jacob Lake does not open till Might 15 most years, so examine for closures. This will likely not impression your potential to hike, but might affect the supply of assets within the space and the convenience of hitchhiking.

Grand Canyon, AZ (section 12 & 13)

The South Rim of the Grand Canyon has a full grocery store and loads of lodging and campgrounds, but you want to hike up and out for them. There’s a primary mess corridor at Phantom Ranch simply as you cross over the Colorado River; meals and food are very expensive here though. You might in all probability mail your package deal to Phantom Ranch, but would doubtless pay a reasonably penny to take action, as all provides are carried down by mule to Phantom Ranch.

Primary snacks and beverages can be found for buy on the North Rim in the North Rim village; needless to say the North Rim Village does not usually open till Might 15. The Grand Canyon Lodge receives packages and has a full store, in addition to laundry, but doesn’t open till Might 15 most years.

Colorado City, AZ and Zion NP (section 14)

Part 14 will take you near Colorado Metropolis, AZ, where there are a couple of restaurants, lodging choices, and locations to buy groceries and supplies. Section 14 ends within the heart of Zion National Park, the place there are free park shuttles to visitors centers and other providers.

Gear Issues

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


My gear laid out in the sand on the finish of a day. As much as I’ll have tried to shake out the powder-like sand, it nonetheless found ways of sticking to my garments and gear.

Your clothes, shelter, and sleeping bag will possible get sandy — all the region is product of the stuff. Typically occasions you’ll be able to just shake it out or off, however hold it in thoughts. Especially contemplate sand when selecting your footwear; think about that extremely breathable footwear with porous membranes will shortly fill with unfastened, powder-like sand.

Contemplate Wind

A lazy pitch leading to a wind tunnel.

A lot of the Hayduke is about on huge desert plateaus, which may mean excessive winds, especially through the stormier months of February and March. Maintain wind in thoughts when choosing your shelter. For those who opt for a standard tent, contemplate that you could be be pitching your tent in unfastened sand. For those who go for a tarp of some sort, think about how you’ll 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 the event you plan to use one.

Water will probably be sparse, which can mean that you will typically be carrying most of your weight in water. I typically carried around 3-4 L, or around 6-7 lbs of water.

Challenges and requisite expertise

Evaluate your map and compass expertise

Much of the Hayduke is overland, off-trail journey. You’ll need to be snug following landmarks, similar to canyon washes and rivers, as opposed to path blazes.

Get snug with scrambling

When travelling by way of canyons you will want to scramble up and down pour-offs, lots of that are Class Three, some of which may verge on Class Four.

Perceive you will doubtless be alone

It’s unlikely you will notice many individuals on the HDT, especially in the course of the more 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 one hundred per yr, and that’s in all probability an overestimate.

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

The Hayduke might be rough; there can be sections the place you will have to cross rivers and streams, push by way of dense brush, and slosh by means of thick mud that verges on quicksand.

Sloshing via Courthouse Wash in Arches NP

More Info

  • Guidebooks
    • The Hayduke Trail: A Guide to the Backcountry Mountaineering Trail on the Colorado Plateau by Joe Mitchell and Mike Coronella
  • Facebook Teams
    • There is a dedicated group for the Hayduke Trail, as well as more basic teams akin to Mountaineering Utah and Mountaineering Arizona, which could be helpful for common questions about transportation, logistics, circumstances, and so on.
  • Reddit
  • Blogs from former HDT hikers

More assets are additionally obtainable on the Hayduke Trail website underneath Assets.

Questions concerning the Hayduke Trail? Depart a comment.