North Caineville Mesa North Route |

Caineville

Hiking North Caineville Mesa North Route - Caineville Hiking North Caineville Mesa North Route
Caineville

Overview | Getting There | Route | Photos | Maps | Comments

Overview

RATING: Moderate Hike
MAPS: FACTORY BUTTE, UT

Tue

99 | 66

Wed

92 | 68

Thu

90 | 65

Fri

93 | 64

Sat

93 | 64

View Full Weather Details
SEASON: Fall, Winter or Spring when the roads are dry.
GEAR: Standard Hiking Gear
WATER: None.

Tue

99 | 66

Wed

92 | 68

Thu

90 | 65

Fri

93 | 64

Sat

93 | 64

View Full Weather Details
Views of the Henry Mountains from the top of North Caineville Mesa

Views of the Henry Mountains from the top of North Caineville Mesa

When I first hiked North Caineville Mesa, it was by the cement truck route on the south side. At the time, the BLM office in Hanksville said it was the only route up the mesa. Recently, however, the BLM mentioned an additional route that climbs the mesa on the northwest side. Being a lover of badland hikes and big views, I was eager to hike the route. Armed with a simple trailhead waypoint, I headed out on a hot spring day to check it out.

This route is both quite similar, and quite different to the south side route. As of spring 2021, calling the route a trail is a bit disingenuous. The route sees only a handful of groups a year, and as such, is very faint and non-existent in spots. The few cairns and faded footprints require a careful eye, and good route intuition to find the path of least resistance. Once at the base of the mesa, the route has some similarities to the cement truck route. This route is steep, loose, and, well, unpleasant at times! At one time a constructed trail worked up from the desert floor, through a notch, and onto the summit of the mesa. Today the lower section of trail is non-existent as time and rockfalls have obliterated all signs of a trail. It is not until you are within a couple of hundred feet of the mesa top that a trail becomes visible.

Once on top, there is lots of space to wander and take in the views from different edges of the mesa. Where the trail reaches the top of the mesa is quite different than the slickrock floored top of the cement truck route. Instead, it is a wide plain with washes and cedar trees.

Which route do I recommend? For me, the southern route from the cement truck is more dramatic with better views. This route MIGHT be a tiny bit easier, but both are steep, loose, and not entirely pleasant. Reaching the trailhead for this route is impossible if the roads are wet, and a fair distance from pavement. If you only have time to do one, I will recommend the cement truck route. If you are looking for a slightly easier route or have already done the southern route and want different views, do this route.

The San Rafael Reef in the distance while crossing the wide open plain.

The San Rafael Reef in the distance while crossing the wide open plain.

Getting There

Note: Reaching the trailhead passes through stunning grey and red badlands. Though beautiful, the roads very quickly become impassable with any moisture. Stay out of here if the roads are damp, storms or threatening, or if the roads are frozen in the winter but might thaw out during the day.
Note: The road to the trailhead is generally good, but with one very rough spot a mile or so from the trailhead. Because of this rough spot, 4wd is required. Even a high clearance vehicle is likely to struggle with the one spot. This could be hiked or biked if needed.

Reaching the trailhead starts at mile post 97.95 on UT-24 which is about 18 miles west of Hanksville, or 30 miles east of Torrey on UT-24.

  • Mile Post 97.95 - Turn north on the good dirt road signed for Cathedral Valley. Reset your odometer. ( 12S 497878mE 4242881mN / N38° 20' 03" W111° 01' 27" )
  • 0.26 miles - Side road on the left. Stay right. ( 12S 497644mE 4243202mN / N38° 20' 13" W111° 01' 37" )
  • 0.7 miles - Minor side road on the left. Stay right. ( 12S 497589mE 4243885mN / N38° 20' 35" W111° 01' 39" )
  • 2.5 miles - Junction. Go right as the road goes up the wash bottom. The road goes through grey badlands with one particularly bad spot about a mile before the trailhead. ( 12S 497601mE 4246712mN / N38° 22' 07" W111° 01' 39" )
  • 7.0 miles - Trailhead at a very non-descript spot. You may be able to see vehicle tracks on the right. A steep dirt hill and small cliff band is visible to the east (right). The trailhead is directly below a spot where a small break allows easy passage over this first ridge. ( 12S 501950mE 4250898mN / N38° 24' 23" W110° 58' 40" )
The view from the trailhead of the first small notch to pass over to be able to see North Caineville Mesa

The view from the trailhead of the first small notch to pass over to be able to see North Caineville Mesa

Route

From the trailhead, located a small notch allowing passage through this first minor craggy band. You are likely to make out a faint social trail climbing up and over the notch. It is the most reasonable looking spot along this section. Once on top, head down the wash. The wash ends and a small canyon with a drop off getting down into it.

Bypass on the left by finding a place you can comfortable climb up and around. This is a good spot to look east. The small obvious notch visible on North Caineville Mesa is the route to the top. The goal is to follow one of the ridges to the notch. The ridge just to the south (right when facing it) seems the best bet and show some signs of traffic.

Head down to the wide plain, then across the plain to the base of North Caineville Mesa proper. To here, the route is easy and straightforward. From here on up, it gets more challenging.

Work up the ridge, finding and staying on the path of least resistance. Generally, the ridgeline seems the easiest. Parts are steep loose dirt that is a challenge, as you get higher, some steep loose rock comes into the mix. Persevere! Once near the base of the cliff, head toward the notch. Just to the south (right) of the notch are some graffiti. The notch is a nice shady place on a hot day!

Once on top, wander in whatever direction strikes your fancy, just be sure to remember where to find the route down on the return! There is a BLM register in the plain not far from where you top out. Heading south from the notch reaches the rim south that has nice views overlooking Blue Valley and the Henry Mountains in the distance.

Return the same way.


Maps

Route / 3.55 miles / Elevation Range 5,069 - 5,964 ft.
Printable Maps:
Trailhead

12S 501951mE 4250894mN

N38° 24' 23" W110° 58' 40"

Bypass

12S 502050mE 4250751mN

N38° 24' 18" W110° 58' 35"

Top Of Notch

12S 502951mE 4250134mN

N38° 23' 58" W110° 57' 58"

BLM Register

12S 503108mE 4249998mN

N38° 23' 54" W110° 57' 52"

Ridge Up

12S 502439mE 4250414mN

N38° 24' 07" W110° 58' 19"

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