Once an unmarked obscurity amid Utah's vast public lands, Lick Wash has steadily gained popularity as a hiking destination. Sculpted narrows, towering cliffs, and a giant hoodoo add to the allure of canyon solitude.
This is an easy hike, but not so easy to get to. It is accessed by BLM 500, Skutumpah Road, which is a scenic backway between UT-12 and US-89 across the Kaiparowits Plateau. If you are visiting Lick Wash, the drive to get there is very much part of the experience. The primitive road winds through desert washes, babbling creeks, elevated ridges, and over the abyssal chasm of Bull Valley Gorge. It is passable for two-wheel drive when conditions are dry, but vehicles with low clearance or a long wheel base may have trouble.
The signed turn for Lick Wash is 31 miles north of US-89, or 21 miles south of UT-12. A short spur road leads to the parking area. The hiking is easy from here, and you can see a spectacular part of the canyon in hardly any time at all. Though Lick Wash wouldn't be considered a slot canyon by most, there are a few sections of deep narrows that give the impression of tunneling into solid rock. Getting into these takes only a 10-minute walk, but there is much more of Lick Wash to be explored further on.
After exiting the narrows, the canyon remains deep and shady. Tall ponderosa pines and even cold-loving fir trees grow out of the sand, sheltered by massive rock walls. The landscape opens more as you proceed until you reach the middle of a broad canyon. This area is very hot in summer, so make sure you have water and food.
You can turn around whenever you've had your fill of adventure, but don't end the day before exploring some of the side canyons in Lick Wash. The most interesting features are on the right side as you travel downstream. There are sandy trails tracked by coyotes and bobcats, narrows so tight you can barely squeeze into them, exciting slickrock scrambles, potholes filled with water, and the Lost Spire hoodoo. Most of these curiosities aren't easily visible from the main route, so you have to get a little adventurous.
After approximately 2 miles you will come to the canyon's broad mouth at the junction with Park Wash. This is a good spot to turn around, but extended hikes are an option. Overnight trips require a free permit from the BLM office in Kanab or Escalante.
Lick Wash is enjoyable year round, but summer is hot and winter is cold, and Skutumpah Road may be impassable in wet or icy conditions. Also keep in mind that this is a narrow canyon susceptible to flash floods, so stay out if storm clouds are brewing.
If you opt for a short hike in Lick Wash and want more out of your trip on the way there, consider adding a hike in tranquil Willis Creek Slot Canyon, 7.8 miles north of Lick Wash along Skutumpah Road.