Northeast of Kanab and south of Cannonville in the Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument, the Upper Hackberry Canyon trail runs through a scenic canyon at the headwaters to Hackberry Creek. The route starts in a narrow slot of red Najavo Sandstone before opening up into a broad riparian meadow of cottonwoods, sagebrush, tamarisk and yellow primrose.
This moderately difficult hike is one of the more scenic and popular canyon routes in the western half of the Monument. It offers a variety of day and overnight hiking options. Most day hikers venture 1-2 miles upstream from the southern end of the canyon, enjoying the cool canyon environment with its shallow flowing water and steep canyon walls. Backpackers usually continue further upstream. For those spending more than one night in the canyon, there are many options for day hikes from a base camp. Hiking further upstream provides a pleasant experience, as the canyon twists and turns back towards its source. Side canyons along the way are fun to explore. The hike to Sam Pollock Arch is another interesting side trip. During the spring, a wide variety of wildflowers can be seen in the canyon. Numerous quiet pools are filled with pond life.
To reach the trailhead from Kanab, head east on US89 for about 40 miles. Turn left heading north on Cottonwood Canyon Road (FS400) for about 30 miles. Past the turnoff for Grosvenor Arch, the trailhead is on the left off FS422.
To reach the trailhead from Cannonville, head south on Cottonwood Canyon Road (FS400) for about 15 miles. The trailhead is on the right off FS422.
Water Availability/Hiking in Water:
The best water sources are the 3 springs shown on the SlickRock Bench and Calico Peak USGS 7.5 minute quadrangle maps. A perennial stream usually flows in the lower 10 miles of the canyon. Filter or treat all water before drinking. The upper 8.5 miles of the route are dry with deep sand, so hikers must carry adequate water.
Throughout the wet portion of the canyon, it is possible to avoid walking in the water by traveling along the edge of the stream, or across sandy benches. Walking in the shallow water usually cannot be avoided in the lower 2 miles of the canyon. Water levels vary throughout the season, but are normally only a few inches deep in most places. Quicksand is a possibility, especially early in the spring, or after summer rains.
Hiking in upper Hackberry Canyon is through deep sand. Hikers planning to traverse Round Valley Draw need to obtain additional route information and should be prepared for technical climbing.
Hikers must be cautious during flash flood season. Adequate escape routes for flash flood situations may be non-existent in sections of this canyon. Biting deer flies can be bad in the late spring/early summer. Wear long pants to avoid bites. The upper end of the canyon is dry. Heat-related injuries and dehydration could be potential problems. Hikers must carry adequate amounts of water.