Strike Valley Overlook and Upper Muley Twist Canyon
ElevationAscent: 1,344' 410 m
Descent: -1,344' -410 m
High: 6,653' 2,028 m
Low: 5,732' 1,747 m
GradeAvg Grade: 3% (2°)
Max Grade: 53% (28°)
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“A run on an easy canyon wash to an awe-inspiring viewpoint and beyond into a colorful canyon.”— Matt Callahan
A second option is to drive the wash of the Upper Muley Canyon Twist Access Road to the upper parking lot at the base of the trailhead for the Strike Valley Overlook. This parking area is only accessible to 4WD and high clearance vehicles. From this parking area, runners can explore the Strike Valley Overlook Trail and Upper Muley Twist Canyon Trail.
This soft sand and rocky wash winds and cuts through the canyon in between the massive cliffs that surround you as you continue along the trail. As you continue upstream passing the various alcoves and rock formations, the trail is fairly level throughout the wash, with no real strenuous or challenging sections. (The only concern along the trail is the lack of shade and direct exposure to the sun while on the trail in the wash.) Around the 2-mile mark of the trail, you'll come upon a second arch along your route called Double Arch. High up on your left in the west canyon wall is the small drainage area which created the big arch formation. It may be hard to notice at first until you are directly on top of it because of the angle high up on the canyon wall.
After running up the wash for the remaining section of the trail, around the 3-mile mark, the trail comes up out of the wash to the right reaching the small parking area for 4WD/AWD high clearance vehicles. The Strike Valley Overlook Trail begins east just to the right of the sign. This dirt trail continues with ease for about a few hundred feet then takes a sharp right and continues down a few steps into a small wash. Continue to the left within the small wash, consisting of softer sand, untill you reach the end.
You'll come upon a 25-foot section of slick rock before a steeper inclined rock section. It may be hard to view the continuation of the trail at the end of the small wash and across the slick rock to the base of the incline but just continue straight across and begin your ascent. Pay close attention to the cairns marking the continuing trail to help guide you. The cairns continue gradually up the trail and can assist you in reaching the top of the viewpoint.
The Strike Valley Viewpoint spans to the left and right along the sandstone cliff safely for about 500 feet in both directions giving you widespread views of the Waterpocket Fold in the valley below and incredible distant views of the Henry Mountains.
From here you have a couple options. For a shorter, easier outing simply retrace your steps back to the trailhead. For runners looking for a longer outing with even more of the amazing views that the park has to offer, continue on the Upper Muley Twist Canyon Trail. This loop trail will meander through the beautifully sculpted sandstone of the Upper Muley Twist Canyon which cuts lengthwise along the spine of the Waterpocket Fold.
The trail provides similarly outstanding views along the way with highlights including expanses of slickrock, large arches, narrow canyons, and dramatic vistas. The terrain will become slightly more challenging, and runners will be faced with steeper climbs and descents compared to the access road, but nothing is too challenging or technical.
Running in a counterclockwise direction around the loop portion of the trail will get the most strenuous part of the run over at the beginning. The loop is cairned but requires careful attention as some sections of the trail deviate from the anticipated route to bypass obstacles so keep an eye open. Once you complete the loop, you'll retrace your way along the Upper Muley Twist Canyon Trail back to the Upper Muley Twist Canyon Access Road to complete your amazing day on the trails.
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Land Manager: NPS - Capitol Reef National Park