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Smith Fork Slot Canyon

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September 7, 2007 - Hikers: Mike & Janna O’Loughlin (MoJo)

Hike distance: 4 miles R/T

Easy Hike Smith Fork Slot Canyon Hike

Buoy M106 - Water elevation 3603


Caution: Do not pursue this hike without first checking the regional weather forecast. Plateau drainage may affect the slot canyon by flash flooding.

(Take a look at Kelly’s posting on YouTube [kkbrooks7] it inspired us to take this hike).


I rated this hike as EASY. It’s a walking hike with minimal elevation rise and it is shaded most of the way. We’ve noted a GPS reading (below) for the slot entrance, but you really won’t need it or cairns either – just stay in the stream bed. You do not need hiking boots; river shoes are best. There is only one area requiring any agility – you have to climb over fallen rocks obstructing the stream – this comes up within the first mile of the hike.


You should have no problem finding a place to anchor your boat. Even when the water rises 25’ there appears to be ample beach access. We boat camped about 100 yards away and used Mini Mo to ferry us to the trail head – (to the right in the picture).


Because of the receding water the first part of the hike was in slick mud. The canyon stream is actively fed by underground springs. The slots & side canyons were dry except for pooled water.


The one mile mark puts you at a peaceful & colorful amphitheatre.


Another ¼ - ½ mile or so you’ll see this distinctive landmark. This is the confluence of Smith Fork (straight ahead) & a side drainage (right). Exploring this side canyon is a must see.


If you’re packing a picnic lunch, time your hike to rendezvous here, either before the slots or on your return, it’s only 100 yards off the main hiking trail.


Entrance to the slots: GPS N37.36.140 W110.38.208

Looking at the picture, to the immediate right is a second confluence of side drainage. We walked up about 75 yards & took a few pictures but didn’t go further. Some really adventurous person might prove this area to be quite interesting.


Smith Fork slots have beautiful tapestries of rich dark reds & blacks. In his book, Boater’s Guide to Lake Powell, Kelsey describes this hike as “one of the premier narrow or slot canyon hikes in his book”. As you continue up the main drainage, Kelsey goes on to say “you’ll find some of the best narrows on Lake Powell”.


Should you be worried about claustrophobia, I doubt that these slots will give you a problem; you can always stretch your arms out side to side. If you are looking for the “tight squeeze” slots I recommend Labyrinth Canyon.


Depending on the season you may find water in the pool. This day the water was about knee deep.


You can hike out to the top if you don’t mind doing a little rock climbing. Kelsey tells us that these granite-type boulders came all the way down from Mt. Ellsworth to the north. Think about it – that would take some mighty flash flooding!


Kids will think this hike is AWESOME!!!
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