Hackberry Heights

Categories: Hiking, Utah

The backcountry portions of Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument can offer some almost-wilderness experiences. Like most of Utah there is always a road no more than 4 miles away and always rotting barbed wire or burned fence posts or active cattle grazing. But if you look hard enough you might be able to find areas where cows have never been. Hackberry Heights has some of those areas, if you look hard enough. These pictures are from multiple explorations of one complicated area I explored on my own but after I felt familiar with the landscape I took my friend Jennifer on a off trail, miles long loop, to explore an area of white pinnacles that looked interesting from afar. Guess what? They WERE interesting, and we even found a couple of arches.

It’s hard to explain what pristine, untravelled rock looks like but you can tell right away when you get to it. Everything is just crisper, more detailed and somehow looks more organized.

I was stunned to come across this hidden valley. Deciding to take any path here is generally a good idea.

Curvy terraces on the way up higher.

Nicely eroded balanced rocks were all over the place.

Notice the huge “V” that serves as a wall across this mountainside. This region of rock had a lot of this harder layers of silica that sometimes resulted in a serious barrier.

On the top of the highest ridge.

Another new valley to explore. I was intrigued by the whiterock formations across the valley but i didn’t’ have time that day. Notice the cow trails on the slopes to the left. Out of the pristine area and back to regular Utah.

Some yellow double hoodoos.

Another day I came back with my friend Jennifer, to tackle those distant white rock formations across the valley.

Without knowing what the terrain had in store for us i had several different routes in my head to try out. One was to climb out of the valley and down into Hackberry Creek.

Some interesting white domes ahead. Checking them out was another option.

We made it to the formations I wanted to see.

We both spotted some cool arches!

Jennifer saw this arch from far off and it turned out to be pretty cool!

Lunch Break

The arch had led us high up and I wasted a good deal of time trying to find a way down without backtracking. The rocks here weren’t behaving the way I was used to in Zion, which i’m more familiar with.

Some cool pinnacles. We ended up having to backtrack. Everywhere around this area ended in a layer of rock that cliffed out above the canyon bottom.

Near the top of Hackberry Peak.

Absolutely amazing view. 

Amazing dragon’s backs rolling up the slopes.

These are another example of those walls of rock I mentioned earlier.

Above and below are a frozen wave of rock with some very delicate, pristine features. It this area you really need to watch your step as there are thin formations with low profiles covering the ground. You can see some tiny thin walls of quartz leading from the bottom of the top picture and another one behind the wave.

On another trip I need to climb down there and figure out what it going on.

Another angle of Hackberry Peak.

We spent a few hours navigating out way out of the hidden valley. The opposite wall over there, which is reminiscent of Chester Park, did not have any breaks in the cliffs over a large distance. The best place was a few miles north.

Again, more of those fins/walls.

Near sunset we came across a group of campers from Colorado. They were purposely vague about where they were going so I was vague about where we came from.

Some wind eroded rocks that have been sitting in place for a very long time.

We didn’t know exactly how to get back so I was anxious to find the road before sunset.

Sunset at the Paria River.

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