Soda Basin | San Juan River

Hiking Soda Basin - San Juan River Hiking Soda Basin

San Juan River

Overview

RATING: Easy Hike
MAPS: MEXICAN HAT, UT

Sat

Sunny, with a high near 85. Southwest wind 10 to 20 mph, with gusts as high as 35 mph.

85 | 57

Sun

Sunny, with a high near 86.

86 | 53

Mon

Sunny, with a high near 91.

91 | 55

Tue

Sunny, with a high near 94.

94 | 57

Wed

Sunny, with a high near 94.

94 | 60

View Full Weather Details
SEASON: Fall, Winter, Spring (Hot in the summer)
GEAR: Standard Hiking Gear
WATER: None, bring all you need.
NOTES: Reaching the trailhead typically requires high clearance.

Sat

Sunny, with a high near 85. Southwest wind 10 to 20 mph, with gusts as high as 35 mph.

85 | 57

Sun

Sunny, with a high near 86.

86 | 53

Mon

Sunny, with a high near 91.

91 | 55

Tue

Sunny, with a high near 94.

94 | 57

Wed

Sunny, with a high near 94.

94 | 60

View Full Weather Details
Views down river from Soda Basin

Views down river from Soda Basin

Between Comb Ridge and Mexican Hat, the San Juan River cuts deeply through the Paradox Formation, a limestone layer. This deep gorge is frequently visited by river runners, but is difficult to visit for non-river runners. The trail from Lime Creek to Soda Basin is about the only easy access hikers have to experience this deep gorge.

The trail, an old oil exploration road, follows along the river with excellent views of the San Juan and surrounding gorge. Because it is an old road, the hiking and navigation are easy. The turn around point, Soda Basin, has some old mining relics strewn about and is fairly interesting to check out.

Note: There is no water available on this hike, and it gets incredibly hot. Be sure to visit during cooler times of the year and bring plenty of water.
History: In 1907 Emery Goodridge began drilling for oil along the San Juan. His highly successful drilling started an oil boom to the region and gave rise to the town of Mexican Hat. The remnants of exploratory oil wells and the primitive road to Lime Creek here were built in 1928 by the Utah Southern Oil Company. Like many oil prospectors, they found no oil and abandoned their machinery.
Ledge Rapid

Ledge Rapid

Getting There

The trailhead is reached by heading west out of Bluff toward Mexican Hat on US-191 for about 20 miles to milepost 25.4 on US-163 where a dirt road leaves on the south (left) side of the road. Reset your odometer as you turn onto this road.

  • Mile 25.4 on US-163 ( 12S 601106mE 4117889mN / N37° 12' 07" W109° 51' 38" )
  • 0.65 miles - Jct - Right ( 12S 601987mE 4117798mN / N37° 12' 04" W109° 51' 03" )
  • 2.4 miles - Trailhead. There is decent primitive camping near the trailhead. ( 12S 603137mE 4115959mN / N37° 11' 04" W109° 50' 17" )
Old drill hole in the basin

Old drill hole in the basin

Route

From the trailhead, the old road crosses Lime Creek. It can be a little tricky to find in a few spots, but once you find it across Lime Creek, it is easier to follow.

Follow it as it meanders along, heading up the San Juan River bank. About 3/4 of a mile from the trailhead, the old road crosses into the limestone layer and the canyon begins to deepen. A sandy campsite on the right here is known as Fossil Stop by river runners. The limestone around this area has fossils if you have a close eye.

From Fossil Stop, the old road continues as the gorge deepens. About 1.7 miles from the trailhead, the road rounds a corner and Ledge Rapid (class II) is visible just below in the river.

About 2 miles from the trailhead, the road deteriorates as you reach the old oil exploration area. From here, wandering around is your best bet. I have marked some sites on the map that I found interesting.

Return the same way.


Maps

Route / 4.82 miles / Elevation Range 4,114 - 4,196 ft.
Printable Maps:
Trailhead

12S 603137mE 4115959mN

N37° 11' 04" W109° 50' 17"

Fossil Stop

12S 604117mE 4115537mN

N37° 10' 50" W109° 49' 37"

Ledge Rapid

12S 605410mE 4115834mN

N37° 10' 59" W109° 48' 45"

Old Well

12S 605670mE 4116385mN

N37° 11' 17" W109° 48' 34"

Old Structure

12S 605603mE 4116383mN

N37° 11' 17" W109° 48' 37"

Rock Chimney and Foundation

12S 605660mE 4116485mN

N37° 11' 20" W109° 48' 34"

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