Winter Desert Weekend: Part 3: Honaker Trail

We woke up in our gorgeous campsite, made some coffee and breakfast in the morning chill while enjoying the view. The pups happily jumped in the car and we headed off to find the Honaker Trailhead. I’d hastily discovered the existence of this trail while en route from Paige so I hadn’t had too much time to thoroughly research it but hearing that we could hike from the canyon rim near Goosenecks State Park down to the San Juan River itself was enough for me.

Our directions to the trailhead were pretty vague and we drove past it the first time but eventually we found the 2WD parking area and walked down to the large pile of rocks marking where to descend into the canyon.

Honaker Trail

The Honaker Trail was originally built in 1893 as a supply route for gold miners exploring in the area. Along the way, numbers can be seen painted on the rock walls. These were added in the early 1950s for a geology symposium.

Honaker Trail markings

The trail is remarkably easy to hike. Although it descends about 1,200′, it takes about 2 ½ miles to reach the shores of the San Juan which makes for a pretty mellow (if exposed) hike. The whole way down I couldn’t quite believe that we were going to be able to make it all the way down to the river!

Honaker Trail

Honaker Trail

Yes, that is the trail switchbacking below my vantage point:

Honaker Trail

Honaker Trail

Finally, we found ourselves at the river. The pups immediately indulged their retriever tendencies and went for a swim in the silt-laden water.

San Juan River at the bottom of the Honaker Trail

Sprocket swimming in the San Juan River

Sprocket's sandy face

Thanks to the long rest grades, we made great time on the way out of the canyon enjoying the views the whole way.

San Juan River, Honaker Trail

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Honaker Trail Panorama

Honaker Trail

Geology nerd that I am, I wish I would have had this illustration of the stratigraphy of the canyon on the hike!

Photo: Daily Kos
Photo: Daily Kos

After our hike, we quickly packed up camp and hit the road. While distracted from my navigational duties by my DJ duties, I accidentally instructed Kelly to turn left onto Highway 261 (I was thinking we were at the UT 261 and US 191 junction!). I was alerted to my mistake when I heard “We’re driving up that?

Turns out that I’d directed us at the Moki Dugway instead of on our intended route. We just rolled with it and enjoyed our tour of Cedar Mesa on our way to Blanding and then home.

I had such a great weekend in the desert. Thanks to all my friends who helped make it awesome.

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