Hiking with the Family — Cane Wash, San Rafael Swell

We are so lucky to live within driving distance of many of Utah’s beautiful hikes — both mountain and desert.  The mountains are covered in snow right now, so we aren’t doing mountain hikes, but the desert still calls to us.  This weekend, with daytime highs in the 50s, we decided to head down through Buckhorn Draw in the San Rafael Swell to Cane Wash.  We had hiked the bottom of Cane Wash — where it meets the San Rafael River — several times, but this time we drove down a dirt road which led us to the wide, open top of the wash, and hiked down to the river.

Total Mileage:  13.35 miles round trip

Difficulty:  EASY! with climbing on side hills to satisfy your climbing urge

Time required:  6-8 hours

Reasons to go:  Beautiful scenery, high cliffs and calm desert colors, petrified forest

At the beginning of the walk, the wash was wide and open.  It was 32 degrees at 10:00 a.m., and ice was pretty solid on the little stream flowing down the wash.  It wasn’t hard to stay dry.  The mud was frozen, so it was easy to step on.

Everyone got their fill of ice sliding . . .

And rock climbing . . .

And trick fall practicing.

No, he didn’t hurt himself.  He practiced this fall about 6 times to get his picture like this.

As the canyon began to narrow, about mile 4, we began to see what appeared to be logs protruding from the sides of the cliff.  Soon, everywhere we looked we could see big chunks of petrified wood.  This petrified wood was easy to identify because much of it looked just like fallen, decomposing tree trunks — except they were made of rock.  It was interesting to discuss what kind of massive land slide or flood left these remnants for us to discover.

The rock the kids are sitting on is some kind of petrified stump or burl.

This was the largest log — probably 6 feet long and 2 feet in diameter.  It looked just like a fallen tree.

Since it is nearly winter, we brought along our little backpacking stove with us and had tea and coffee for our lunch break at the river about one o’clock.

It was much colder on the return trip, mostly because the sun had gone behind the cliffs, and we were walking in the shade.

We still took time break some ice, and look at this beautiful little pour-off (one of my favorite things about the desert.)

We made it back to the truck about 4:00 and returned home to a dinner of pumpkin spice waffles.  I think the thought of these waffles sustained us all on the last cold mile, and they were definitely a treat to come home to.  Best of all, they were easier than my usual waffle recipe, so it didn’t wear me out to make dinner.

It was an excellent day spent out in the sunshine.  We returned sunburnt and ready to face a little more winter.

Would you like some suggestions about how to get your family started hiking and backpacking?  Stay tuned or subscribe for some suggestions from my personal experience.

Do you have a good winter hiking trip?  Leave me a comment, please!

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1 Comment

  1. Tom

     /  December 1, 2011

    I want to go on one of these hikes so I can be on the blog.

    Uncle Tom


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