Start: Devils Garden parking area
Distance: Variable; up to 0.7 mile
Approximate hiking time: Variable, up to 1 hour
Trail surface: Boot-worn trails and slickrock routes
Trailhead access: 2WD
Best seasons: Apr through early June; Sept through Oct
Canine compatibility: Leashed dogs permitted
Topo maps: Seep Flat USGS quad; Trails Illustrated Canyons of the Escalante
Finding the trailhead: Hole-in-the-Rock Road provides access to this hike. This generally good graded dirt road branches southeast from UT 12, 5.8 miles east of Escalante Interagency Visitor Center and 23.8 miles southwest of the UT 12/Burr Trail Road junction in Boulder. Follow this good wide road southeast, passing a large destination and mileage sign a short distance from the highway. After driving 10.7 miles, pass the signed eastbound road leading to Harris Wash. Continue south on Hole-in-the-Rock Road another 1.6 miles (12.3 miles from UT 12) to the signed spur road leading to Devils Garden, and turn right. Follow this gravel road for 0.25 mile to the spacious parking area adjacent to the picnic site.
Devils Garden provides a brief introduction to the kind of slickrock walking and routefinding over a trail-less landscape typical of most backcountry routes in the Escalante region. Since the landscape features, such as pour-offs and cliffs, are in miniature here, obstacles are minor.
Devils Garden features a four-site picnic area with pit toilets, tables, fire pits, and elevated grills. No water is available. Bring your own firewood or charcoal, since firewood collecting is not allowed at the site. Dogs must be leashed at all times in Devils Garden. Although children will enjoy wandering with their parents here, remind your children to avoid trampling the coarse yet fragile desert vegetation.
Miniature domes, tiny narrows carved by rivulets of infrequent runoff, and diminutive pour-offs are among the features you’ll see during your wanderings. There is a small arch spanning a gully that can be found by following the upper, left-hand trail beginning at the picnic site. The lower trail skirts the base of Devils Garden’s erosion formations, passing delicate Mano Arch and an array of red-and-beige-toned sandstone hoodoos and mushroom rocks that rise from the pinyon- and juniper-studded bench. Other hiker-made trails crisscross the area.
You can follow a short loop through the garden, covering about 0.7 mile along the way. The upper trail fades on the slickrock past the aforementioned arch, but you can continue over the sandstone slopes to a point above a bend in the wash, where it cuts through a 15-foot-wide slot. Loop back to the picnic site via the bench above the wash, skirting the dramatic hoodoos along the garden’s western margin. Midway back to the picnic site, you’ll pick up a good trail to follow back to your car.