On our family hiking trip to Escalante this year, we did 3 great hikes, but I can’t really recommend all of them to you. We spent one very long day crossing the Boulder Mail Trail, including freezing in the chest deep water of Death Hollow. I won’t recommend that one as a great family hike — it was HUGE! But another hike, this one only about 10 miles up the Hells Backbone road outside of Escalante, I can recommend unreservedly for your family. This easy hike up a beautiful drainage crosses a little creek through a Ponderosa forest, and could definitely done by any level of hiker.
There are two ways to hike “The Box,” which is what the Pine Creek drainage is called. A really wonderful way to enjoy this whole trail would be to be dropped off at the top Upper Box Access point, about 19 miles from Escalante, where Pine Creek crosses the Hell’s Backbone road. Follow the stream about 9 miles down and be picked up by a shuttle car at the Lower Box trailhead, only 10 miles up the Hell’s Backbone road. We did not do this because after our monster hike on Thursday, we weren’t sure how much of a hike we wanted on Saturday. Turns out, we could easily have done this as a through hike. Instead, we hiked about 5 miles up from the Lower trailhead, then turned around and headed back to our car. It was a great hike, although we regretted not seeing the whole trail.
Stream crossings begin right away from the lower trailhead, and in the 5 miles we hiked, we crossed the stream 20 times. (And 20 more on the way back down.) Many of the crossing were “rock hoppers,” and could be done without getting your feet wet (if you are coordinated–which I am not.) There were trees across many spots as well, but all of us ended up with wet feet. Eden grabbed a little tree to steady herself on her next-to-last stream crossing and it slowly lowered her into the stream, getting her whole side and back wet! If only we had known in advance to turn on the video . . .
We completed our trip to The Box by driving the rest of the Hell’s Backbone road. Of course, we had to take a picture at the Hell’s Backbone bridge, a narrow span between very steep drop-offs (Death Hollow and Sand Creek drainages.)
I highly recommend this trail to you and your family. Have you started your hiking season yet? How is spring progressing where you are? Please leave me a comment below.