Zion National Park, Part 8: Coalpits and Scoggins Wash

We had driven past the trailhead on SR-9 for Coalpits Wash numerous times but finally got around to hiking th trail a couple weeks ago on a day when the temperatures were a bit cooler. Though it quickly crosses the boundary of the national park, this trail never brings you close to the main canyon or any of the other busy areas so it seemed to be a good choice.

As we started up the wash in low desert the views were not very inspired but after a mile the trail split and we headed northeast into what was Scoggins Wash where red rock canyon walls rose up around the wash. We quickly realized that this was not likely our intended route however – we had planned on hiking to the waterfall at the end of Coalpits – but as we were backtracking we came upon three gentlemen on horses who assured us there was an unmarked old stock trail that would allow us to cross over from Scoggins back to Coalpits and that we could thus make a loop out of it. This seemed very reasonable so we accepted their offer and followed them as fast as we could walk for a mile and a half until they pointed out a steep trail that led up to the ridge that presumably divided the two canyons.

After we climbed up to the top we found ourselves on a rather nice mesa rather than looking down into Coalpits as we’d expected. We followed the trail west for awhile until we reached the junction with the Chinle Trail and after consulting our maps and finding our location, agreed to follow the Chinle down to Coalpits. At this point however we had a lovely view of the formations of Zion Canyon in the distance and so stopped for a snack while we took in the views. For extra credit I scurried down the Chinle in the opposite direction to see if the views improved; my half mile jaunt convinced me that this trail too would be a nice little walk.

After regrouping we walked another mile and a half across the mesa but the trail here unexpectedly turned in the direction opposite of which we needed to go and we found ourselves paralleling the wash headed north; we rightly assumed that this was because we were headed to the nearest suitable place to drop into the canyon and were ultimately proved right. Once we reached the wash Abbs took advantage of the free water as we struck up a conversation with 3 college students from Oregon State who were backpacking. After exchanging hiking recommendations (and Abby getting her requisite fill of petting) we began heading down the wash as the canyon walls rose up.

We had a few route finding issues at first when we thought we should be staying out of the wash and walking on the steep canyon walls to avoid a narrow section but once we descended back down to the water level we found our way without any issues. The going was slow however as we picked our way around and over the boulders littering the stream bed though this pace gave us the opportunity to notice all the neat erosion patterns and small falls the wash had to offer. On the larger scale this canyon doesn’t make for a beautiful hike, but it sure has many pretty features that are worth exploring. It’d also probably be prettier now that more of the vegetation has greened up. In any case, it was a successful walk which earned us beer and burritos.

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