Kane Gulch Trail
ElevationAscent: 642' 196 m
Descent: -1,699' -518 m
High: 6,423' 1,958 m
Low: 5,366' 1,635 m
GradeAvg Grade: 3% (2°)
Max Grade: 53% (28°)
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“A beautiful canyon trail with a thousand years of fascinating history.”— Nick Wilder
Starting right out of the ranger station, cross the road and enjoy easy hiking in the desert wash. Pass through tall tunnels of grass until the canyon starts in about a mile. There's an unusual stand of aspen trees here, which would normally require a much higher elevation. But they have survived in this micro-climate as clones of the same tree for 11,000 years!
At 2.0 miles, the canyon opens to a huge bowl and pour-over. The canyon becomes much deeper now with imposing walls on each side. You'll cross the stream many times, but the trail remains easy (though not always easy to find - look for cairns!).
At 4.0 miles, you come to an major side canyon to the right and a huge grove of cottonwoods. Look up to the right on the cliff, and you'll see the Junction Ruins - perched under a huge overhang with excellent natural protection. Below the cliff is the "midden," or trash heap. Yep, this is where they threw the trash from the ruins above. Tons of broken pottery shards litter the ground. Respect the area and do not disturb the remains. There are fun ruins to explore on ground level as well as the higher ones, which you cannot access.
Back on the trail, continue 0.7 miles to the Turkey Pen Ruin, with more houses up high on the cliff. Down below are many houses and a kiva that you can explore. The highlight here is a set of sticks that have stood for nearly 1,000 years and appears to be a pen to hold turkeys. Excellent petroglyphs line the wall.
At 7.2 miles, Todie Canyon comes in on the left. You can potentially escape back to the road by climbing out of this canyon.
After passing a major pour-over that you have to hike around (look for cairns!), you reach Split Level Ruin, which comes into view at 10 miles.
Pass Coyote Canyon at around 13 miles, and look for the incredible pictographs at the Green Mask ruin soon after.
The canyon comes to an end at a junction with another canyon. Most will return the way that they came.
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Family Friendly, ADA Accessible, Need to Know, Dogs Allowed, Flora & Fauna