Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
11,809.00 ft (3,599.38 m)
Trail type
66.00 mi (106.22 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

The Hayduke Trail is a remote, rugged and challenging 800 mile backcountry route across Southern Utah and Northern Arizona. The route leads through varied terrain from Arches to Zion. You’ll pass through all five of Utah’s national parks, as well as the Grand Canyon. The Hayduke Trail is only for experienced backpackers. Those lacking in desert hiking experience may quickly find themselves in trouble as the off trail navigation, lack of water, long food carries, general remoteness and harsh weather can pose a daunting challenge. Anyone planning a section or thru hike of the Hayduke Trail should complete adequate research beforehand and consider purchasing the official guidebook and Skurka bundle. The brief description of Section 3 that follows provides an overview, but is not to be solely relied upon to successfully navigate the trail.

Section 3 of the Hayduke Trail begins at Big Spring Trailhead in Canyonlands National Park. Be sure to pack out enough water for the likely 25 mile waterless stretch. You’ll begin by following a relatively popular trail, but that doesn’t mean the hiking is easy. You’ll want to keep an eye out for cairns that mark the way, as there are sections of easy slickrock scrambling. Eventually the trail comes to a junction where it is 1.1 miles to the Confluence Overlook. This is worth the detour to see where the Green and Colorado Rivers meet.

The Hayduke then continues through wide Cyclone Canyon before following Butler Wash. This wash isn’t the most scenic and also has sections of deep sand and large boulders to work around. There is an option to take an enjoyable dirt road alternate to Beef Basin if you grow tired of the wash. Alternatively, you may wish to research the Salt Creek Alternate that takes a different route entirely and is highly regarded.

You’ll then head through Beef Basin and to the Fable Valley Trailhead where a trail register is located. Follow the faint cairned trail as it ascends then contours before heading up the valley until ultimately topping out on the Dark Canyon Plateau.

Walk across the plateau, then descend into Young’s Canyon. This is the start of a gorgeous but challenging section of the Hayduke. There are a couple of dryfalls in Young’s that require climbing way out of the canyon, then back down again. This is tiring and slow.

Young’s eventually flows into Dark Canyon. Here you’ll find slightly easier walking and a nice stream. Continue down-canyon until you reach the Sundance Trail which offers a steep scramble up 1200 feet of loose rock until you are out of the canyon.

From here you’ll have easy walking following dirt roads until Highway 95. Hite is a short detour off the highway and is an important place to fill up on water. Section 3 then comes to an end at the bridge across the Colorado River. It is also possible to hitch into Hanksville from here if needed.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)




Parking Pass

National Park Pass

Open Year-round



Stunning scenery in Young's and Dark Canyons.


Challenging terrain and slow hiking. Long water carries.

Trailhead Elevation

4,939.00 ft (1,505.41 m)

Highest point

7,146.00 ft (2,178.10 m)


Backcountry camping
Big vistas

Typically multi-day


Permit required




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