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Trail HAPPENINGS June 2015

Seven Mile Canyon to the Grotto
by Richard Coffinberry

Seven Mile Canyon is a great place to take a horseback ride, or a hike. The scenery in the canyon is gorgeous, and everyone will enjoy a visit to the “Grotto” at the end.

The South Fork of Seven Mile Canyon is one of my favorite horseback rides.

We rode the canyon on a day in May after a very big rainstorm. There was still water along most of the ride, and a full pool in the grotto. Everything was very green, flowers were in full bloom, and the cottonwood trees were a wonderful contrast to the colorful red rock cliffs along the ride. I took lots of pictures, it was hard not to! This has been an annual ride for the Canyonlands Back Country Horseman. When riding or hiking in the summer months, start early and bring plenty of water. This is also a wonderful outing in the fall when all the yellow colors are at their brilliant best!

The ride distance is 4.1 miles one way, without counting the side canyon exploration. Most of the ride or hike is in the sandy or gravel wash bottom, although portions of a trail cut across the frequent meanders. This is a fairly easy ride or hike.
There are patches of “Quick Sand” but we have not encountered any spots (YET) deeper than a few inches.

The “Grotto is different” – be very careful if you are lucky enough to encounter a pool in the grotto. Don’t wade into the water, you may get stuck!

In addition to visiting the “Grotto”, trail users will enjoy exploring the side canyons and looking for rock art. Take plenty of pictures, but please don’t touch the rock!

Horseback riders may have to dismount to explore some of the side canyon areas.
For equestrians who enjoy a longer ride, you can combine the South Fork of Seven Mile Canyon with an excursion up the North Fork of Seven Mile Canyon. To access the North Fork you start near the trailhead of the main Seven Mile Canyon, then cross under Hwy 313 (through a tunnel) and follow the wash upstream for several miles. It dead-ends up near the 4x4 “Wipeout Hill”. You can do this at the start of your ride or when you return from the “Grotto”.

In 2008 the Bureau of Land Management Resource Management Plan set aside various “Special Recreation Management Areas”. The “Focus Areas” include recreational opportunities for hikers, mountain bikers, 4x4 motorized users, climbers, and equestrians. The Seven Mile Canyon Area was set aside primarily for equestrian use, although this is a favorite place for hikers as well. Vehicle use is limited to just the beginning of the canyon.

Access and parking: Drive north of Moab on Hwy 191 for approximately 9.5 miles, turn left onto State Route 313, the Scenic Byway heading towards Dead Horse Point State Park and Canyonlands. The parking area to begin your Seven Mile Canyon adventure is on the left at 2.3 miles. This area was suitable for 3 vehicles with horse trailers. There is a wire gate here. You can also park sooner at 1.8 miles but it is a tougher ride getting to the open parts of the canyon. The Trail Mix Committee, along with the Back Country Horsemen, submitted a proposal to the BLM to expand the parking area for ease of use by multiple users with horse trailers.

No camping is allowed at the horse trailer parking.

There are about 140 photos of this ride at:
More information and photos of Moab area horse trails are available at WWW.Moab-Horses.Com.
Use the link.

About the Author: Richard Coffinberry is a member of the Canyonlands Back Country Horsemen and the Grand County Trail Mix Committee. Richard serves as the Trail Mix Equestrian Representative, welder, and helps with the trail building effort. He has been riding the Moab area since moving here in 2009 from Wyoming. He now rides “PD” and Dundee after Outlaw died in 2014.





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