"Little Wild Horse/Bell Canyon Loop: the hike" Hiking Tip by goodfish

Hiking, Hanksville: 2 reviews and 9 photos

Ah, so I see you've read my previous post and are all set to do this: you're in for big fun!

Directions on how to reach the trailhead are below. This is very close to Goblin Valley State Park so it's easy to combine two entirely different landscapes into one great day in the boots. You'll drive about 38 miles from Hanksville to the trailhead.

I don't want to belabor every single little twist and turn in the route as once you're in the slots it's a no-brainer. Critical directional points are also signed and you might see some cairns here and there so it's not difficult to follow.

Starting at the parking area, follow the wash about .6 mile or so to the first obstacle. You do not have to try and climb over it; get around by ascending to the shelf on the right or left - whichever looks easiest - and then climbing down. It can be a little tricky so be careful and look for that path of least resistance. Shortly beyond, the canyon splits: to the right is the entrance (look for the sign) to Little Wild Horse and to the left is Bell. We'll go right as LWH is the best of the two and the one to choose if you can't do both. Just follow along as the canyon narrows into a series of slots for the next 3 miles. They are astounding: serpentine waves of textures and colors that narrow in places so tight you'll need to remove your pack and squeeze through sideways. If there are standing pools, some can be easily 3-pointed around or stemmed over but you'll just have to plow through the wide ones: we brought water shoes along.

When you reach the end of the canyon you can turn around & return the way you came or make the loop through Bell. There will be a sign for the latter: go a little over a mile and 1/2 on trail/jeep road and into the canyon (look for signs). You'll traverse the next mile and 1/2 through another series of slightly less dramatic but entirely worthwhile slots (we slogged through some pools here too, and over the biggest pouroff) and arrive back where you first entered LWH. From there retrace the .6 mile to the parking area.

This can be a very hot adventure during summer/early fall so bring lots of water and I recommend closed-toe shoes or boots with a good tread. Do not do this with rain in the forecast, OK? As mentioned, we saw no one after the first 1/2 mile but I guess that's rare: LWH is one very popular hike in high season and often very busy. No fee.

Address: Little Wild Horse/Bell Canyons
Directions: N. 21 miles from Hanksville on Hwy 24. W.(left) at sign to Goblin Valley. 5 miles to junction: go left towards Goblin Valley. Abt. 6 miles - just before Goblin Valley - go right at sign for Little Wildhorse onto dirt road for 5.3 miles to the trailhead.

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Aug 2, 2012
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