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Boulder Mail Trail

Intermediate/Difficult
  4.9 ( 8 ) Favorite

Trail

15.6 mile 25.1 kilometer point to point
86% Runnable
Intermediate/Difficult

Elevation

Ascent: 2,301' 701 m
Descent: -3,265' -995 m
High: 6,794' 2,071 m
Low: 5,690' 1,734 m

Grade

Avg Grade: 7% (4°)
Max Grade: 50% (27°)

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Trail shared by Nick Wilder

An isolated trail leading through an imposing landscape of slickrock through the heart of the Escalante Canyons.

Nick Wilder

Features River/Creek · Views

Overview

This route provides a beautiful tour of a massive slickrock expanse in the remote Escalante Grand Staircase National Monument.

Need to Know

Trekking poles are very highly recommended. In addition to the rocky steps, you spend a good amount of time running in a knee-deep stream and the poles will greatly decrease your chance of getting soaked, or worse, a broken ankle.

Runner Notes

This is quite runnable, though look out for the incredible sun exposure. The only guaranteed water is in Death Hollow Creek, conveniently near the middle of the run.

Description

Starting on the Boulder end, run an easy mile through pinyon and juniper until you get to the edge of the slickrock expanse. Follow cairns across huge bowls of slickrock on surprisingly easy terrain. Cross Sand Creek (you might be able to jump it), and then continue on undulating slickrock.

At around 4 miles, you'll come across the telegraph wire that was installed around 1910 to connect Escalante to Boulder. It's in quite good shape and you'll follow it for most of the rest of the trail.

Hit the rim of Death Hollow and enjoy huge views of the canyon and the rock expanses in all directions. It's worthwhile to explore the rim off trail around here. There are good campsites here if you're spending the night, though there are also good ones on the canyon bottom, where better water is easy to find. Death Hollow is so named after a mule fell to his death during one of the mail delivery trips.

Follow cairns down steep rock into the heart of the canyon where you'll hit Death Hollow creek. Turn left and change your footwear. Prepare for cold wading up to mid-thigh depth. For some sections of the next half-mile, you can follow paths on the banks, but most of them are COVERED with poison ivy, and you're better off running in the water.

Keep a sharp eye out for the trail ascending the hill to the right. Other trails continue downstream, so don't miss your turn. It is located on a small beach and is the first possible way to ascend the canyon (it's been sheer cliffs until this point). The run out starts pretty steep but then mellows out and is a pleasant ascent back to the rim.

Descend Mamie canyon. The Mamie Creek Natural Bridge Trail is highly recommended side trip to Mamie Creek Natural Bridge. Up out of this canyon, you'll cross Antone Flat which is hot and sandy but not very long.

Climb up a final escarpment, through a saddle, and enjoy huge views of both the Escalante valley and town. Head downhill, and just when you think you're going to run into the farms, take a left turn, cross a creek many times, and head through a beautiful little valley that ends right at the parking lot.

Flora & Fauna

Sagebrush, Juniper, and Pinyon are the dominant species on the rock, though Death Hollow creek is teeming with fish, ferns, mosses, poison ivy, cottonwoods, and pesky bushes that can be a nuisance to run through.

History & Background

This area, protected by the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in 1996, was the last bit the continental US to be surveyed and mapped. Though rugged, native americans lived here at least 1,000 years ago.

In more recent history, this trail was used to deliver mail and supplies between Escalante and Boulder in the early 20th century. Around 1910, a telegraph line was run along the trail, and still stands today along most of it.

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Apr 20, 2019
Glenn glenncaffery@gmail.com
out and back from Boulder trailhead to end of canyon. spectacular mix of piñon forest, slick rock, and canyon bottom. historic. few people even on… 15mi

Trail Ratings

  4.9 from 8 votes

#439

Overall
  4.9 from 8 votes
5 Star
88%
4 Star
13%
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Featured Run Rankings

#38

in Utah

#439

Overall
367 Views Last Month
10,638 Since Feb 20, 2017
Intermediate/Difficult

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17%
50%
33%
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Photos

The descent into Death Hollow is steep and surely not for the fainthearted.
Jun 10, 2017 near Escalante, UT
April blooms along the Boulder Mail Trail.
Apr 24, 2017 near Escalante, UT
Escalante and Barney Top are spectacular from the Boulder Mail Trail.
Jul 9, 2017 near Escalante, UT
The view into Death Hollow.
Apr 24, 2017 near Escalante, UT
This scene reminded me of The Secret Knowledge of Water by Craig Childs. Check it out if you haven't read it!
Apr 1, 2017 near Escalante, UT
Slickrock Saddle Bench with Boulder Mountains in the background.
Jun 10, 2017 near Escalante, UT

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