Needles District Hiking Trails

SHORT HIKING TRAILS Distance (Round Trip) Hiking
Time (Approx.)
Roadside Ruin .3 mi/.5 km
30 min. Hard surface, well maintained
Pothole Point .6 mi/l km
45 min. Slickrock, uneven surface
Cave Spring .6 mi/l km
45 min. Slickrock, two wood ladders, cowboy camp
Slickrock Foot Trail 2.4 mi/4 km
2-3 hr. Slickrock, little shade, mesa top, uneven surface,
canyon view
LONG HIKING TRAILS Distance (Round Trip) Hiking
Time (Approx.)
Squaw Flat Trailhead
Big Spring Elephant Canyon 10.8 mi/17 km 4-6 hr. Slickrock pass with sheer drop offs and ladders
Big Spring Squaw Canyon 7.5 mi/12 km
3-4 hr. Washes, slickrock pass with sheer drop offs
Squaw-Lost Canyon 8.7 mi/14 km
4-6 hr. Ladder, washes, slickrock pass, sheer drop-offs
Peekaboo 10 mi/16.5 km
5-6 hr. Slickrock, sheer drop-offs, two ladders
Elephant Hill Trailhead
Elephant Canyon to Chesler Park (the Needles) 6 mi/10 km 3-4 hr. Loose rock, slickrock
Elephant Canyon and Chesler Park Loop 11 mi/18 km 5-7 hr. Varied terrain, narrow sections
Elephant Canyon to the Joint Trail
10 mi/16.5 km 5-6 hr. Varied terrain, narrow sections
Elephant Canyon and Devils Kitchen Loop 11 mi/18.5 km 5-7 hr. Varied terrain
Elephant Canyon to Druid Arch 11 mi/18 km 5-7 hr. Sandy wash with steep slickrock in places, ladder
Lower Red Lake Canyon Trail 19 mi/31 km Overnight 1,400 ft. elevation change, canyon hiking
Big Spring Trailhead
Confluence Overlook 11 mi/18 km 4-6 hr. Little shade, one ladder, view of Green and
Colorado rivers
Trailheads Accessed by Four-wheel drive Roads Distance (Round Trip) Hiking
Time (Approx.)
Chesler Park Loop 4.9 mi/8 km 3-4 hr. Varied terrain, narrow section through Joint Trail
Joint Trail
1 mi/l.5 km 45 min. Narrow crack
Devil's Kitchen Loop 5.1 mi/8 km
3-4 hr. Varied terrain
Upper Salt Creek 28 mi/46.5 km Overnight Sandy wash, occasional dense brush
Angel Arch 1 mi/l.5 km 30 min. Hard surface, slickrock, view of arch
Castle Arch .8 mi/l km 30 min. Primitive trail, view of arch
Fortress Arch 1 mi/l.5 km 45 min. Primitive trail, view of arch
Confluence Overlook 1 mi/l.5 km 45 min. Slickrock, view of Green and Colorado rivers
Many trails interconnect allowing for a variety of options for day or overnight hikes.

Trails:Trails are marked with cairns (small rock piles). Please do not disturb cairns or build new ones. Signs are located at trailheads and intersections. All backcountry trails are primitive and rough. Water may be found in some canyons, but is rarely available in others. All water should be purified before drinking. Spring and fall are the preferred times of year for hiking due to temperature and water availability.

Day Use Permits: Traveling on four wheel-drive roads into Salt Creek, Horse and Lavender canyons by vehicle, bicycle or horse requires a day use permit. (See other side for permit information.)

Backcountry Permits: All overnight stays, except those at Squaw Flat Campground, require a backcountry permit. Visitors are responsible for knowing and following backcountry regulations. (See other side for permit information.)

Pets: Pets are only permitted on paved and two- wheel-drive roads. Pets are not allowed on trails or four-wheel drive roads (either inside or outside of a vehicle). Pets are permitted in your campsite at Squaw Flat Campground. Pets must be leashed at all times.

Cryptobiotic Soil Crusts: An important feature of the Colorado Plateau is the black. knobby crust often seen growing on soil surfaces. Cryptobiotic soil holds moisture, prevents erosion and contributes nutrients to the desert environment. The crust is easily broken and crushed by tracks. Please do not step or drive on these living soils.

Safety Information: The high desert is a land of extremes. For a safe and enjoyable visit, please follow these guidelines:

  • Drink a minimum of one gallon of water per day. Avoid overexposure to the intense sun.
  • Spring, summer and fall temperatures may become extremely hot. Save strenuous activity for morning or evening hours.
  • During winter, temperatures drop well below freezing. Wear warm wool or synthetic clothing. Carry storm gear and a flashlight.
  • During lightning storms avoid lone trees, cliff edges and high ridges. Return to your vehicle if possible.
  • Watch weather conditions. Slickrock lives up to its name when wet or icy!
  • Remember that climbing up is easier than climbing down.
  • Flash floods occur with amazing rapidity. When caught in flash flood conditions, go to high ground. Do not attempt to drive through washes in flood.D
  • Group members should stay together to avoid becoming lost.
  • If you become lost, stay where you are. Make your location obvious to searchers.

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