“A beautiful hike through the Rough Canyon Trail area.”
— Steven Knight
River/Creek · Views · Waterfall
Open year-round but likely inaccessible during spring run-off.
This trail drops you into a beautiful canyon. The trail isn't too technical but it is energy sapping as it requires a lot of scrambling up and down over boulders as you are actually hiking through a creek bed for the spring runoff. The easy(er) return uses the Tabeguache Trail to come back.
Need to Know
If you are hiking this trail in the afternoon it's probably better to hike the Tabeguache Trail on the eastern side first so you aren't going uphill into the sun on your way back. On the western side (Rough Canyon Trail
), you are down in a canyon and the sun isn't hitting you like it is on the eastern side. It's slow going in the canyon so the hike will take longer than expected. Bring extra water and bug spray. Dogs on leashes are allowed on this trail. If you have a smaller, older dog who isn't capable of scrambling and jumping, then you'll have to carry him/her at times.
From the trailhead, you have the option of taking the western route south into the canyon on the Rough Canyon Trail
or the eastern route on the Tabeguache Trail which is actually a rocky off-road vehicle trail for those with high-clearance vehicles. You could also do an out and back just on the western route as it is the highlight of this trail. The Tabeguache Trail is a bail-out return and isn't technical but is difficult in that is all uphill for a couple of miles.
As you leave the parking area and enter the trailhead, hug the cliffs to the right until you reach the creek bed. From there you are just picking the best lines until you reach a marked parking area at the end of the canyon, roughly 2.5 miles from the start. About 1/4 mile before the parking lot, you'll arrive at a waterfall point; however, there is no water during the summer months. To see the waterfall you'd have to hike the Tabeguache Trail or use a high-clearance vehicle to arrive at the parking area during the spring when the snow is melting.
The views in the canyon are dramatic and beautiful, but at times it gets tight as obstacles that got pushed up when the water was moving through here get in your way. You'll find some pooled, stagnant water that will hold a few mosquitos, although it isn't too bad. When you arrive at the parking area, at the southern end of the loop, turn back north and hike uphill almost the entirety of the Tabeguache Trail back to the trailhead. If it's late afternoon, you'll have the sun in your face the whole way.