Overview: Fiftymile Creek is a remote slickrock canyon of exceptional beauty. Seldom visited, the canyon offers solitude and classic scenery. Narrow passages, 500-foot canyon walls, excellent campsites, a perennial stream, and an active population of beaver are among the attractions of this trip.
Start: Beneath Cave Point
Distance: 10.4 miles, round-trip
Average hiking time: 5 to 6 hours, round-trip
Difficulty: Moderate, occasional Class 2 scrambling
Trail surface: Wash route
Trailhead access: 4WD advised when the road is wet
Best seasons: Mid-Mar through May; Sept through Oct
Canine compatibility: Leashed dogs permitted
Water availability: Intermittent flows below 2.8 miles in Fiftymile Creek; if day hiking, bring your own
Hazards: Flash-flood danger
Permits: Required for overnight trips; obtain at Escalante Interagency Visitor Center or at a trailhead register en route to the trailhead (such as Hurricane Wash or Willow Gulch Trailhead) Topo maps: Sooner Bench and Davis Gulch USGS quads; Trails Illustrated Canyons of the Escalante
Finding the trailhead: From UT 12, drive 44.8 miles south on Hole-in-the-Rock Road. The promontory of Cave Point soon looms ahead to the south; its prominent apron of Entrada Sandstone is honeycombed with deep alcoves. After crossing a cattle guard near the foot of Cave Point, begin descending toward a wash. (About 0.1 mile beyond the cattle guard, you pass a pullout on the left side of the road where you can park if no space is available ahead.) Immediately before crossing the wash below, turn right onto an unsigned spur road that leads to the foot of Cave Point. You will find parking spaces just off this road within 100 yards.
The route begins beneath Cave Point, a lofty promontory of the Straight Cliffs. There is no trailhead register, no signs, nor is there any indication of a trail or route. Fiftymile Creek is relatively undiscovered, and you are likely to have the canyon to yourself.
After 5.2 miles, a precipitous side canyon joins on the right (south). Here Fiftymile Creek bends left, then enters a narrow slot. Towering, often overhanging cliffs rise overhead, revealing only a narrow sliver of sky. When Lake Powell is filled to its maximum elevation of 3,711 feet, you can proceed no farther. At the normal pool elevation of 3,700 feet, usually during spring, you can continue downcanyon for as much as 0.7 mile to the lake. Backpackers will find no more campsites beyond the high-water mark.
The final stretch of the canyon passes through a deep narrow gorge and involves wading in the shallow stream, where there may be deeper holes. Water stains on the canyon walls and cottonwood skeletons indicate your approach to the lake. Once you reach the high-water mark of Lake Powell, return to the trailhead via the same route.