“An awesome canyon-filled adventure; from rim top to canyon bottom, and back again.”
— Tom Robson
Birding · Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views · Waterfall · Wildlife
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This route, especially Hammond Canyon (012)
, may be very, very wet in Spring.
This hike is best done as a shuttle, but can also be done as a long loop. Starting from the top of Hammond Canyon, this route dives into the canyon's belly, bringing you past epic sandstone features.
After following the creek bottom for a while, you'll eventually reach Posey Canyon Trail (166)
. This trail takes visitors on very steep terrain high above Posey Canyon. The views along this portion are epic.
If you're planning on doing this route as a backpacking trip, there are great camping spots along Hammond Canyon
Need to Know
There are multiple stream crossings and you're frequently hiking within the creekbed. We did this hike during Fall, but I can be almost certain that some of the stream crossings would be near impossible without getting very wet in Spring.
This hike can be done easily as a shuttle using bikes. We stashed our bikes at the Posey Canyon Trailhead, then drove to the start of the route.
Starting from the Hammond Canyon (012)
Trailhead, the trail immediately dives into the water-carved valley, becoming steeper and steeper as you go. You'll note that along this trail, the flora changes from deciduous trees and lush, low shrubs, to dry conifers. As the dense deciduous foliage of the forest starts to thin, the views of Hammond Canyon proper become more apparent.
Continue down this tight, somewhat elusive trail as it finally reaches the Hammond Canyon Creek. From here, the trail meanders along and around the creekbed, slowly falling in elevation. In some of these sections, you'll be surrounded by thick horsetail reeds as well as dense manzanita shrubs. Don't forget to look up, however, as the towering sandstone pillars should be coming into view now.
Eventually, the trail reaches a double waterfall (which must be stunning in Spring). This proves a good resting point or a place to eat lunch.
From here, the trail continues east. If you have time, be sure not to miss Three Finger Ruin! We didn't have time to see it, but it's supposed to be amazingly well-preserved. I've noted its location as an information symbol on the map.
Continue along the winding trail and navigate the few stream crossings until the trail eventually reaches Posey Canyon Trail (166)
. Posey Canyon Trail immediately takes you steeply uphill to the northwest.
Described by one of my hiking partners as "improbable," this trail is very cool. It winds very
steeply uphill with awesome views along the way. For its duration, you'll be able to see the Abajo's to the north, the San Juan's to the east, Black Mountain and Ute Peak to the southeast, and the Carrizo Mountains to the south.
Not only are the mountain views expansive, you'll have excellent views looking into Posey Canyon. The trail snakes its way atop a slickrock bench with views down 1500' to the canyon bottom. This trail is pure Bears Ears awesomeness.
Once atop Posey Canyon Trail (166)
, either take your shuttled car back to the starting trailhead, or hike the road for ~5 miles.
Flora & Fauna
Horsetail, manzanita, and ponderosa pine. We also saw a kingfisher on our hike.