We headed back to the Needles area of Canyonlands National Park to run Elephant Hill one day after having run Lockhart Basin. The trip to the trailhead was suspenseful as we were not sure what the conditions would be. The day before had brought snow, sleet, and hail in the area. As we turned off Highway 191 onto 211, the pavement was still covered with snow from the storms the night before. The cliffs and bluffs were beautiful with the snow contrasting the red rocks. As we got closer to the park, however, our fears were soon relieved as all signs of snow disappeared.
We were at the trailhead by 10:00AM and airing down in the bright sun. Mike decided to drop the top, even though the forecast was partly cloudy for the whole day. While we were preparing for the trail, a red Jeep Wrangler TJ headed up the trail. We would see that Jeep later on, but they were the only traffic we would see for the day. It was strange to run the trail in such good weather and to see no one else, not even any bikers or hikers.
The trip down the north side of Elephant Hill was fun, with everyone backing down the switchback as suggested by the signs. It actually was easier than trying to turn at the end of each switchback, although this is possible. We were soon through the narrow section and after a quick stop at Devil's Kitchen we took the optional side trip down Devil's Lane to Chesler Park. The trail here is an easy two-wheel drive road where you can make good time. You do climb over a couple of hills but for the most part the trail is a level two-track through a valley.
The side trail ends at Chesler Park and there's a great walking trail to the Joint. The Joint is a very narrow cleft in the rock and is well worth the short hike of about 0.6 miles. After exploring the Joint Trail and having our lunch at the parking and picnic area, we returned to the main trail. We were soon through the Silver Stairs and back at the trailhead.
We aired up and headed back to Moab. We thought briefly of stopping at the Needles Outpost, but after our adventure there last time when we "spun the pump" we decided to pass by it this time.
Reports from Other Days: 4
Use the arrows or dots to flip through the previews of the other reports for Elephant Hill. Click one of them to read more and see all of the photos from that day.