Syncline Trail Loop - Island in the Sky, Canyonlands National Park

From the mesa the trail begins the descent into the canyon.


You immediately come to a trail junction. Go left. The trail descends over slickrock, with cairns leading the way over the Upheaval Dome mesa. At 0.94 miles into the hike, you arrive at the canyon rim. The trail winds to the bottom, about two miles into the hike, and follows a creek bed. You come to a trail junction and the post says you have 4.9 miles to complete the loop. Go right, upstream. Just before the trail leaves the creekbed, there is a small side canyon to the right. This area may hold a waterfall in the right season. At 4.4 miles into the hike, you leave the creek bed and head up a box canyon. Near the top, the canyon is laced with boulders and cairns play hide-and-seek. The cairns lead to the creek and the well-marked trail follows it through the Syncline Valley. The trail eventually leaves the creek after a mile or so and heads into the last side canyon. This exit isnít marked, so watch closely for the exit. This hike is strenuous and long, so bring plenty of food, water and sunscreen. Park entrance fee: $10 per vehicle

Getting there: In Canyonlands National Park, take the Upheavel Dome exit and drive about five miles to the end. Trail is posted.


-- Photo, text and graphic by Steve Baker

Region: Southeast Utah

Destination: Loop views

Distance: 8.3 miles

Time: About 7 hours

Elevation Gain: 1,453 feet

Dog Allowed: No

Restrooms: Yes

Biking: N/A

GPS Location: 38.397206, -109.889567

Difficulty: 5


First published 2007-12-13