1 Day Trail – Rated 3 1/2
This trail tours a region south of Canyonlands Airport and west of Highway 191. It uses portions of Bartlett Wash, Tusher Canyon, Courthouse Pasture, the south cliff base of Big Mesa, and possibly Gemini Bridges if there is time. Variety is its strong point, with a wide range of scenery and trail surface and a couple of challenging hills.
The landscape varies from the drab hills near the airport to the tall cliffs seen from Moab. In between are beautiful canyons having colorfully banded Entrada Sandstone walls, Determination Towers, and Monitor and Merrimac Buttes. The trail traverses at least seven major rock formations Morrison, Entrada, Navajo, Kayenta, Wingate, Chinle, and Moenkopi) that were deposited over a period of more than 100 million years, beginning about 200 million years ago.
There is a long stretch of broad, sandy washbottom and one short, but often challenging, hill of blow-sand. One broken-rock hill leads back to a washbottom that is usually somewhat wet. There are a couple of areas of slickrock, some rock ledges, and a few miles of two-track on sandy dirt.
The Tusher Wash sand hill varies in difficulty with moisture content and recent digging by the heavy-foot crowd (a windstorm will fill it in again). Big tires will help. Wipe-Out Hill is short, but steep with irregular ledges and an abrupt tip-down that could “wipe out” a rocker panel. It is an exciting trip down and a 4+ rated optional climb back up. Rattlesnake Hill has its bumps spaced just right to catch those who don’t have limber suspensions.