Backpacking the Escalante River Trail in Utah-Panergy
The Escalante River Trail
Length: about 15 miles
Hike Type: end to end
Trip Duration: at least 1 night
Elevation Gain/Loss: our GPS said about 600 ft net gain or loss depending on which direction you hike the trail (more on trailhead options below)
Permits: Yes, permits are needed for this hike. They are free and can be obtained at either trailhead or at the Escalante Visitors Center, however, most of the time the trailheads tend to be out of permits so the visitors center is your best bet.
Escalante Visitor Center:
Phone - 435-826-5499
Address - 755 West Main Street, Escalante, UT 84726
Check the website for current hours
Current Water and Trail Conditions: At the visitors center, you can also ask about the current conditions within the canyon. Conditions will vary year to year and season to season, so it’s a good idea to stop by or even call to get accurate info on the conditions and water levels for your trip.
Difficulty: While trail difficulty ratings are subjective, I would rate this as an easy-to-moderate backpacking trip. The trail is mostly flat, but hiking in sand and water for 15 miles does complicate things a bit and makes it way more tiring.
Dog friendly?: Yes, off-leash.
Best Time of Year: Spring and Fall are my favorite times of the year to head down to the desert. I think the best time of year to hike this trail is in the Spring months of April and May, or in October.
I did this hike in mid-April. Of course, the few days that we went it was colder than average, but April is generally a beautiful month to be in Escalante!
In the Summer, things are very hot and dry. It’s also monsoon season when the flash flood potential is at its highest.
The Winter is cold and windy. Walking in cold water when it’s freezing out is not something I would enjoy or recommend.
Which direction should you hike?
I think if I were to do this hike again, I would do it in the opposite direction from what I listed above.
I would start hiking at the Escalante River Trailhead in the town of Escalante and I would end the trip at the trailhead along Hwy 12.
Do you need a shuttle?
Since we only had one car, we needed a shuttle for this backpacking trip. If you have 2 cars, then you can do the shuttling yourself.
We used Escape Goats Shuttle Service for this hike. They can shuttle up to 4 people and the price was $70.
(Note: A dog equals 1 person.)
We had the shuttle pick us up at the Escalante River trailhead in town and shuttle us to the Escalante River trailhead right off Highway 12.
Then, it was finally time to start hiking!
Summer essential equipment：