2018 San Rafael Swell North-South Traverse

#1
So we just completed a mini-traverse of the San Rafael Swell in Utah, starting at Huntington State Park and finished at I70 after crossing the Devil's Racetrack. Since we have young kids, we camped with the trailers at Huntington State Park and did this route in a single long day (10am to 10:45pm). It would be a lot of fun to take this route again and camp at the San Rafael river crossing and spent some more time hiking/exploring.

Our route connected 5 major "day trip" trails: Hadden Flat, The Wedge, Fuller Bottom, Coal Wash, and Devil's Racetrack. I'm recording each trail as a separate short video review and I'll post the links as I process them.

The first trail was Hadden Flat. The best description of this trail I read from a comment on TrailDamage: "Sometimes routes exist just to connect Point A to Point B. "

Hadden flat is pretty bland as far as scenery is concerned, and quite boring from a technical perspective. It'd be rated a 1/10 if it weren't for a few washes that could be in various states of erosion/decay. When we crossed this path, I wouldn't hesitate to take a non-trail rated Jeep Renegade on it. Not difficult at all. Although it could be quite formidable if caught in a torrential storm (flash flood issues, sticky mud, etc).

The primary draw of this route for the potential explorer is an "off-the path" connection between the county road Buffalo just south of Huntington to the county road Green River Cutoff out of Castle Dale. The only alternate to get to The Wedge and other trails from the north is to take pavement from Huntington south to Castle Dale and then east across the Cutoff Road. Having Hadden Flat allows the traveler to get off the pavement significantly quicker; which is why it is reviewed below.

Enjoy!
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#2
After Completing Hadden Flats, you will take the Green River Cutoff Road to Buckhorn Well, a fenced enclosure with kiosks and restrooms that is large enough to serve as a staging area for multiple areas on the north-west side of the swell (if you are an ATV/SxS guy, it's big enough to drop trailers and leave your trucks.)

Just south of this, is the turnoff to the Wedge Overlook (it's actually easy to miss, we had to flip a U-turn).

The overlook is a must-see and since it's popular the main road is graded/mag'd and car passable. A short "loop" meanders through a juniper/pinion forest that ups the rating to a "2" on the 10 scale, not a big deal but if you are in the family Traverse you might want to think twice, although it's quite passable in one.

The area is sometimes known as the "Little Grand Canyon" for the impressive nature of the gorge carved by the San Rafael River. It is a highly recommended stop, especially for first timers into the region.

Oh, and a quick picture of my Disco's storage. I'd like to end up with a drawer system eventually, but I modified some Front Runner Wolf Packs to accept tie down straps, and behind them are actually big plastic stackable "ammo crates" which I use to store the recovery gear (the wolfpacks typically contain waters, snacks, and one of them extra camera gear if needed (this time it just had water). And the fridge is a Dometic 35CFX, which is phenomenal. I'm not sure why it took me so long to bite the bullet for a fridge, but they are well worth the $$.
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#3
Thanks for that. The mountain bike trail that starts at the Wedge Overlook is a great ride. It is called the Goodwater Rim on the online MTB trial sites. About 15 miles of twisty single track right along the edge of the canyon. Very little elevation gain and loss; you can ride one gear the entire ride. Lots of fun and not too challenging.
 
#4
Mountain biking that area looks extremely rewarding......but hot and exhausting!

I've compiled a bunch of shots for the next leg of the journey, hopefully I can post it this weekend.
 
#6
The third leg of the traverse was taking Fuller Bottom down from Buckhorn Well to the Coal Wash turn off. Those familiar with the area will recall that the primary feature of Fuller Bottom is the San Rafael River crossing in a nice "bottom" with cotton woods and other greenery. This would be a great place to camp if you were making a multi-day expedition out of your San Rafael trip. I'd like to stop here again myself.

The river has been described as a "difficult" crossing (depending on water level), wading out is appropriate and oft-times the trail is typically considered two seperate ones (a northern and southern route) because the river is impassible. Or so I've been told. But this past winter? It was hardly a puddle. No wading necessary and we made an easy exit.​


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#7
This would be the end of the well-maintained roads of our trip. Coal Wash warns adventures that more technical terrain is on the way with a nasty climb out which will test stock vehicles, and then from there......Devil's Racetrack, where things start to get good..... More to come..

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