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Lathrop Canyon Trail

Difficult

Trail

5.9 mile 9.5 kilometer point to point
Difficult

Elevation

Ascent: 293' 89 m
Descent: -1,891' -576 m
High: 6,116' 1,864 m
Low: 4,409' 1,344 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 7% (4°)
Max Grade: 74% (37°)

Dogs

No Dogs
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Trail shared by Caroline Cordsen

With wide-reaching views and varied terrain, Lathrop Canyon is one of the best trails Canyonlands has to offer.

Caroline Cordsen

Features River/Creek · Spring · Views · Wildlife

Never cut across switchbacks. No bikes are allowed on Lathrop Canyon until below White Rim Road. There is a 25 dollar fee to enter Canyonlands National Park by car, 10 dollars by bike. You may want to turn this one into an overnight, in which case a permit is required, and may need to be reserved months in advance during the busiest months. Water can also be a limiting factor as the canyon offers very little or none, and the Colorado River can clog your filter due to how silty it is.

Description

Before Canyonlands was designated as a national park, Howard Lathrop blazed this trail into the canyons so he could get his and others’ supplies to and from the river and to their grazing sheep. Though sheep were eventually banned from the park, the route has since been kept alive as a hiking trail.

Traveling first across Gray’s Pasture–a flat, expansive plain stretching miles along the canyon rim--relics from the area’s early days still litter the trail. One mile in, look towards the La Sal mountains in the northeast, where you can spot an old shed in the distance. Lathrop and the other ranchers would use this cabin to store their supplies before descending into the depths.

Where Gray's Pasture melds into the slickrock, the horizon offers up a dramatic landscape of heavily eroded canyon walls and geological wonders surrounding the Colorado River two-thousand feet below. A more diverse canvas of vegetation thrives here, including blackbrush, juniper, pinon and sagebrush.

Many choose to turn back here, so continue on and you may have the trail to yourself. Straying east before wrapping back to the west, the route circles an outcrop of Navajo Sandstone, quickly losing elevation as it drops onto the first narrow bench below the canyon walls. Just below you, the sheer cliffs of red Wingate Sandstone make access points into or out of the canyon few and far between, but Lathrop Canyon makes use of an ancient landslide to find its entry.

Descending nearly fifteen-hundred feet along a series of tight boulder-strewn and cairn-marked switchbacks, the route meets up with the braided wash inside Lathrop Canyon, never losing its vantage of the Colorado River throughout these one and a half miles. And remember, what goes down, must come up.

Heading west, the trail finds a raised spine and a better viewpoint for a glimpse at the southern cluster of the La Sal Mountains and United Nations Tablet (A.K.A. Mitten Butte). Gradually losing ground again, the route soon meets with White Rim Road. Combined with Lathrop Canyon Road (a mountain biking trail), this route is one of only a few in the Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands giving hiking entry to the riverside.

As a note, remember to bring plenty of water for the scorching desert heat of the summertime. 100+ degree weather is common from June through August.

Flora & Fauna

Much like other viewpoints and trails in Canyonlands, Lathrop Canyon and Lathrop Canyon Road offer an up close and personal look at the geologic history and formation of the park.

During the cooler hours of the day, Gray's Pasture brings deer and even bighorn out of hiding. Though the park has made strides in the preservation of local wildlife and wild lands, the increased human activity now threatens their newfound resurgence. Conservation efforts are key to survival, so play your part in protecting these celebrated places for future generations.

On the slickrock, the vegetation grows more varied with blackbrush, juniper, pinon and sagebrush.

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Check-Ins

Nov 2, 2019
Amanda Waltz-Mook
Oct 3, 2019
DaniMarie
Oct 3, 2019
Marie Blanche
Jun 3, 2019
Amelia Wilkeson
May 30, 2019
Russell Bader
Watch for snakes on top of the Mesa 5.9mi — 3h 00m
May 26, 2019
Deanne Modaff
Dope trail in the Canyonlands 10mi
Sep 22, 2018
Sarah Rohm
Mar 31, 2018
Brandon Snacks

Trail Ratings

  5.0 from 13 votes

#146

Overall
  5.0 from 13 votes
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Trail Rankings

#19

in Utah

#146

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2,669 Since Feb 19, 2016
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Photos

The La Sal Mountains and Canyonlands National Park from the Lathrop Trail.
Jan 14, 2018 near Moab, UT
Overlooking the Green River from Lathrop Trail.
Jan 14, 2018 near Moab, UT
Gray's Pasture - Lathrop Canyon Trail - Canyonlands NP
Oct 27, 2017 near Moab, UT
Lathrop Canyon Trail, Canyonlands NP, near the canyon rim just before the trail drops down into the canyon.
Oct 27, 2017 near Moab, UT

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