Overview

This Lake Powell hike follows a flowing stream through a beautiful desert canyon and into a spectacular slot canyon. The route follows a canyon that is subject to changing conditions as the reservoir fluctuates. There is no marked trail; however navigation is easy once you begin hiking. This hike is suitable for older children and adults in good physical condition.

Trailhead

Smith Fork is a Lake Powell-accessed hike that typically requires a boat to access. Whether you own or rent a boat, it is important that you have the skills and equipment to navigate and anchor your boat safely and properly before attempting this hike. If you do not have access to a boat, a shuttle may be available from the nearest marina. Check the Glen Canyon National Recreation area website for more information.

Smith Fork is typically accessed from Bullfrog Marina. To reach Smith Fork from Bullfrog Marina:

  1. Drive your boat up lake (north) from Bullfrog Marina for approximately 13.5 miles to the mouth of Smith Fork Canyon (37.561922, -110.630721).
  2. Turn left (west) into Smith Fork Canyon.
  3. Continue up Smith Fork to the end of the reservoir using caution to avoid submerged rocks and trees. This could be anywhere from 2-4 miles, depending on the current water level.

Availability of good anchorage locations varies depending on water level. Find a suitable place to secure your boat before beginning the hike.

The Hike

Begin hiking up Smith Fork Canyon away from the lake. There is no trail, but walking in the canyon bottom is generally quite easy. After a short distance, a small waterfall and rock pile is encountered, although at high lake levels this feature may be underwater. Climb through the rocks to get around the obstacle, or if you prefer, backtrack down canyon about 100 yards and hike to a bench on the left (looking down canyon) that bypasses the obstacle.

Continue hiking up the canyon along the idyllic flowing stream. Minor rock obstacles and a little bit of bushwhacking may slow travel. Near the high water level of Lake Powell, the stream ends. Keep walking up the dry canyon for about a half-mile to the start of a spectacular narrow section.

The entrance begins at a dramatic streaked wall. From here, continue hiking up the canyon as far as you would like. Depending on the last time the canyon flooded, it may be dry or it may contain pools of water and mud. Several obstacles of varying difficulty are encountered, most of which should be easy to surmount without any special equipment.

Do not attempt to climb anything beyond the skill level of your group. It is possible to keep hiking up the canyon to its upper reaches where the walls widen and the narrow section ends. When you’re done exploring, return to the lake the way you came. Round trip hiking distance will vary depending on the lake level and how far you explore into the narrows, but is typically between 3-6 miles round trip.

Rules and Regulations

  • Dogs must be on leash.
  • Clean up after pets.
  • Pack out all trash.
  • Do not carve or draw on rocks.

Special Considerations

  • This area can be extremely hot during spring, summer and fall. Carry plenty of water and wear appropriate clothing.
  • Do not enter narrow canyons when significant precipitation is in the forecast. Flash floods can strike quickly and without warning.

Credits

This trail guide is provided by Backcountry Post.