Thursday, April 30, 2009

Todie Canyon to Split Level Ruin-Grand Gulch

Todie Canyon is one of the five or six entry points into the 51.7 mile Grand Gulch Primitive Area trail in the Cedar Mesa area of southeast Utah.

The Todie Canyon trail head is about 3.5 miles south of the Kane Gulch Ranger Station along Utah Highway 261, and then another mile down a dirt road. The BLM charges a $2 fee for day hiking in the Grand Gulch system.

The trail starts out as an easy walk along the canyon rim for about 0.5 miles and then descends very steeply to the canyon bottom. The route is a rocky jumble for about a mile and the going is slow, before smoothing out as it approaches the junction with the Kane Gulch Trail.

The junction is about 7.5 miles along the Kane Gulch trail, so Todie Canyon is a shortcut that allows a day hiker to view this more distant part of the Grand Gulch. There are several pools of water and huge boulders that require the trail to detour away from the canyon bottom for short distances. Take careful note what the route in and out of the canyon looks like as it can be confusing, though it is well marked.

The Todie Canyon has more small Ancestral Pueblo Ruins to view in the upper section than nearby Kane Gulch, though most of them are high on the canyon walls and inaccessible. There are at least five sites, one of the sites seems to be a series of granaries side by side.

There is a canyon floor level site just past the junction with the Kane Gulch Trail about 2.5 miles down the trail. This site doesn’t seem to have a name but has a number of small structures and a red geometric pictograph high on the sandstone wall.

The site isn’t completely obvious from the trail. The Pinon Pine and Utah Juniper trees obscure the view from the main trail, and it would be easy to walk past it. There are spur trails off of the main trail that lead to this site and the Split Level site.

About 3.8 miles down the route the highlight Split Level Ruins appears. About 100 yards before this south facing alcove site there is a small petroglyph panel. This petroglyph panel has two figures that look like long snouted mountain sheep standing up on their hind legs. They resemble the popular Kokopelli figures but without any sign of a flute.

The Split Level Ruin is also not immediately visible from the trail. The alcove is visible but the view is blocked by trees and you’re not sure if anything is there until you explore closer.

Split Level Ruin is one of the major sites in this area. It seems to feature a tower pressed against the sandstone wall, overlooking the low structures in front.

It took me 2:30 hours to arrive at Split Level Ruin. I had some trouble on the way back as I tried climbing out at the wrong point. I wasted about an hour and used about 6:00 hours for this 7.6 mile hike. There were very few hikers in this part of Grand Gulch on a 65 F, day in late April.

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