Lick Wash to No Mans Mesa
Overview: This rigorous hike follows the dramatic canyon of Lick Wash to the valley of Park Wash, then ascends what remains of the goat trail to No Mans Mesa.
Start: Lick Wash Trailhead
Distance: 12 miles round trip
Approximate hiking time: 6 to 7 hours
Difficulty: Strenuous, Class 2 and 3 scrambling on ascent of No Mans Mesa
Trail surface: Wash route; 4WD road; and a very steep and poor, abandoned goat trail
Trailhead access: 4WD advised when the road is wet
Best seasons: April through early June; September through October
Canine compatibility: Dogs permitted (not recommended due to steep drop-offs and Class 2 and 3 scrambling)
Water availability: None available; bring your own
Hazards: Flash-flood danger in Lick Wash; exposure to steep drop-offs en route to No Mans Mesa
Topo maps: Deer Spring Point and Deer Range Point USGS quads; BLM Kanab
Finding the trailhead: From UT 12 in the Bryce Valley town of Cannonville, Utah, 33 miles east of Panguitch, Utah, and US 89 and 36 miles west of Escalante, Utah, turn south onto Cottonwood Canyon Road, signed Kodachrome Basin–9. Follow the pavement through Cannonville, then through the broad valley of the upper Paria River. After 2.9 miles Skutumpah Road branches right (southwest), signed Bull Valley Gorge–9, and Kanab–61.
Turn right Skutumpah Road and come to the boundary of Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument after 0.25 mile. After 3 miles, you cross the runoff below the spillway of a dam spanning broad Sheep Creek Wash, ascend to a ridge, then drop down to the dry wash of Averett Canyon after 4.7 miles. After 5.5 miles, avoid a graded road that branches right near the crest of a ridge. Bear left there and descend to the wash of Willis Creek, 6.3 miles from Cottonwood Canyon Road. After 10.9 miles the Skutumpah Road crosses the narrow bridge spanning cavernous Bull Valley Gorge. Enter signed Bullrush Hollow after 16.9 miles and enjoy the first good views of the towering White Cliffs in the southern distance. After emerging from the woodland at 18.6 miles, you enter the broad brushy basin of Dry Valley, then gradually descend to an unsigned crossing of Lick Wash at 19.9 miles, where the road is subject to washouts. A short distance beyond the wash, immediately before reaching a cattle guard, turn left onto a faint spur road. Follow the spur for 0.1 mile to its end above the banks of Lick Wash and park there.
If coming from US 89 in the south, turn north where a sign indicates Johnson Canyon. This turnoff is located immediately east of milepost 55 and 8 miles east of Kanab, Utah, or 64 miles west of Page, Arizona. Follow the paved Johnson Canyon Road north for 16.2 miles to a signed junction, then turn right onto the good gravel Skutumpah Road, signed for Deer Springs Ranch and Cannonville.
Avoid several signed spur roads leading to the private property of the Deer Springs Ranch between 11.5 and 11.7 miles from the junction. After driving 14.8 miles from the junction at the end of the pavement (31 miles from US 89), you reach the spur road that leads to the trailhead, just before Skutumpah Road crosses Lick Wash.
This rigorous hike follows the dramatic canyon of Lick Wash to the valley of Park Wash, then ascends what remains of the goat trail to No Mans Mesa. Time and erosion have reclaimed much of this “trail,” and today it is a treacherous scramble over loose slabs precariously balanced on broken high-angle cliffs, which only experienced hikers should attempt. The hike can be completed in one day, but the broad mesa invites exploration and an extended stay. The long-range vistas from its rim, its isolation, the solitude it offers, and the unlimited array of possible campsites all make the mesa a rewarding destination for an overnight trip. Don’t forget to carry an ample supply of water, as none is available en route to or on the mesa top.
The concentration of native grasses on the mesa is unmatched in other areas of southern Utah. Even to the amateur botanist, the contrast between the vegetation on No Mans Mesa and much of the rest of southern Utah, which has been utilized for grazing and other activities for more than one hundred years, is remarkable.
Please avoid crushing fragile vegetation and the microbiotic soil crusts. Do not build campfires, and keep the numbers of your group to a minimum. Very few people visit No Mans Mesa, and save for the old goat trail and a scattering of prehistoric artifacts, there is no evidence of human impact. Do your utmost to leave no trace of your passing.