Route: Little Death Hollow - Wolverine Canyon Loop (UT)

Submitted by Jason Hardrath… on Tue, 05/26/2020 - 07:40pm
Utah, US
20 mi
Vertical Gain
810 ft

Little Death Hollow - Wolverine Loop is one of the best day hike loops in Utah. It is certainly worthy of any type of day out, FKT or Not.

Little Death Hollow is 5 miles of Utah slot canyon magic! You can basically touch the sandstone on each side of you for what seems like an eternity. If this doesn’t put a smile on your face, you may be in the wrong state.

From SummitPost: 

Little Death Hollow and Wolverine canyons are two nice slot canyons that drain into the Escalante River from the lesser known east side. Situated between Capitol Reef National Park and the Escalante River just off of the Burr Trail, these canyons are pretty remote. A loop hike incorporating both of these canyons is 20 miles long and makes for an excellent day hike. There is no technical skills or gear needed to do these canyons. 

To get to the trailhead (again, SummitPost):

To get to the trailhead for these canyons, drive 19 miles east from Boulder, Utah on the paved (though terribly paved) Burr Trail road. This road is quite possibly one of the most scenic roads in Utah as it strategically weaves its way through the canyons and cliffs between Capitol Reef National Park and Boulder, Utah. After 19 miles, turn right and head south on the unpaved Wolverine Loop Road. Drive south for 12 miles to the Little Death Hollow trailhead. You will pass the trailhead for Wolverine Canyon. At the Little Death Hollow trailhead you will find an old corral and a drinking bucket for cows, as well as room for a few cars. A sign at the trailhead marks it as Little Death Hollow.

Description (also from SummitPost):
If you look southwest from the trailhead you will notice a large valley below a series of cliffs on each side. These are part of the Circle Cliffs made of the Wingate sandstone. The "trail" starts heading down this valley in a southwest direction. Continue down the trail and after about 2 miles another wash will come in from the left. Stay right and continue downstream. At places you may get a little wet if there is water in the stream bed, mainly in the early spring or winter months. There is also a series of springs in the stream-beds that provide water in all months. At 4 miles from the trailhead the canyon really starts to narrow up. The really cool thing about Little Death is that the slot is 5 miles long! You will be continually walking in narrows for around two hours. Enjoy every minute of it as this type of slot is rare. The only obstacle you may encounter is a large chalkstone with a large puddle of water on the downstream side.

At about 9 miles from the trailhead the canyon will open up into a large opening with many trees. This is where Little Death Hollow drains into Horse Canyon. If you were to head left (downstream) along Horse Wash you will hit the Escalante River in about a mile and a half. That is an optional side trip that will add three miles to the loop, maybe worth it if it's hot and you want to do a little swimming. Otherwise, turn right and head upstream in Horse wash. You will probably see an old road that looks like it's still used. Follow this to cut the switchbacks made by the meandering stream. After about 2 miles following this road look for a canyon opening coming in from the right. This is Wolverine Canyon and you should turn right here and enter the second canyon of your loop.

Wolverine canyon isn't nearly as exciting or narrow as Little Death Hollow but it makes for a nice 3 mile walk through some new scenery. The most important routefinding you will do on this loop is making sure you take the right wash after getting to the upper end of Wolverine Canyon. After 3 miles in Wolverine Canyon you will come to a fork in the stream. The left fork takes you to the official Wolverine Canyon Trailhead. Your car isn't there and you will add 2.5 miles of road walking to your already pretty long hike if you head that way. We even saw a hand made rock arrow pointing to the left that was designed for people who parked at the Wolverine Canyon Trailhead. Ignore this large arrow.

Make the right fork and walk cross country for 2 miles through the wash until you hit another small fork in the stream-beds. Take the right fork once again and walk another mile and a half to the road you came in on. You will have to make you way under an old barbed wire fence probably designed for cows right before you get to the road. Don't try to destroy this fence as it may still be used. I think it marks the boundary between the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument and BLM lands. Along the way in this wash you will find thousands of petrified wood logs and chunks. This area is really amazing. Petrified wood will be seen all the way until you get back to the road. 

To get back to your car, take a right (south) turn on the road (or follow the wash below the road) and walk the short half mile to the official Little Death Hollow trailhead. If you ALWAYS take right turns on this loop you will be set on the routefinding! This loop can also be done in the other direction or even could be done starting at the Wolverine Canyon trailhead.

Further Route Research:

“WOW Guides: Utah Canyon Country”

~Submitted by Jason Hardrath