Leprechaun Canyon |

North Wash

Canyoneering Leprechaun Canyon - North WashHiking Leprechaun Canyon - North Wash Canyoneering Leprechaun Canyon
North Wash

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

Overview

MAPS: Turkey Knob, UT

Wed

70 | 41

Thu

59 | 42

Fri

66 | 38

Sat

72 | 44

Sun

68 | 46

View Full Weather Details
SEASON: Any, although summers can be hot.
GEAR: Standard Technical Gear
RAPPELS: Up to 15 m ( 50 ft. ).
WATER: Generally little or none unless right after rains. Possibly wading, but likely no swimming.
FLASHFLOOD: Moderate, but you can see the whole drainage and skies on the approach.

Wed

70 | 41

Thu

59 | 42

Fri

66 | 38

Sat

72 | 44

Sun

68 | 46

View Full Weather Details
Figuring out a downclimb in right fork.

Figuring out a downclimb in right fork.

The Leprechaun Canyons are many people's first canyons. Easy access, and relatively straight forward, they are a good choice. Even a few scenes from the movie 127 Hours were filmed here, just below the confluence of the middle and right forks, in a stunning cathedral type section. This is one not to miss, and one of my favorites in the area. Choose your fork wisely if you are a beginner, the middle fork is tight and harder than the left or right.

Note, those that are not technical canyoneers can still enjoy the canyon from the bottom. The hike up, staying in the bottom, visits some astounding narrow and slot sections. I've done the technical sections a few times each, but have probably walked up from the bottom a couple of dozen times with non-technical groups. It is astounding. One small falls, when coming up from the bottom, is class 4 to circumvent, but it is otherwise easy going to the junction of the right and middle forks. A great leg stretcher if passing through the area.

WARNING: Middle fork is VERY narrow! This is not a good place for claustrophobes, or large boned canyoneers. Canyoneers that are larger than myself (6'2" / 170 lbs) may have to go high over several tight spots, increasing the difficulty. You have been warned! Although you can generally go high, it often is difficult to get above constrictions, and the rock is very crumbly and unpredictable.

Kent in Lep

Kent in Lep

Group in Middle Lep

Group in Middle Lep

Getting There

From Hanksville, head south on Highway 95 towards Hite. About milepost 28.1, just after a culvert, is a spur road on the left going a short distance and ending next to a sandstone wall. This is the trail head.

Last Rappel in Right Fork

Last Rappel in Right Fork

Route

I recommend doing the three forks in the following order: right, left, then middle. Right is very straight forward and a good introduction, left has a bit of tricky anchor work, and middle is the most difficult.

Approach (Hikers)
If just hiking up the bottom without doing any of the technical canyon forks, simply follow the social trail up the bottom of the canyon. As slickrock walls begin to close in, a small narrow slot section can be upclimbed directly (a little tricky) or bypassed on either left or right with some teamwork.

Once up the minor obstacle, the canyon deepens and narrows dramatically. Just beyond where the Right Fork comes in, the canyon narrows tight enough most will have to turn sideways to fit. This is the turn around for most hikers, though some continue up with increasingly difficult obstacles.


Approach (All forks)
From the trailhead, hike up the canyon until a major side canyon comes in on the left (LUC). This is about 20 or so minutes from the trailhead, and not long after a mini-narrows. Hike up the rib between the side canyon and main canyon to reach the rim. If you use good route finding, nothing is over 4th class. Once on the rim, follow an emerging trail around to the head of the three forks. Orientate yourself carefully, this is complex terrain to navigate, and you want to make sure you are dropping into the fork you are expecting. The left fork, in particular, is relatively small and easy to overlook. Follow the rim around to the fork you wish to descend.

Note: The topography of the area is a bit complex. Pay very close attention to the map, and double check that you are dropping into the correct fork. More than one group has dropped into the wrong fork.

Right Fork

Note: The right fork tends to hold a fair bit of water after recent rains. During these times, a 40 m ( 132 ft. ) rope may be useful for alternate rappels around some pools, but you will likely get wet either way!


As soon as you descend off the dirt to the slickrock layer, you will come to a 15 m ( 50 ft. ) drop. Rappel this off a natural anchor. From here down, you will find several short drops that can be negotiated with partner assists, or short rappels. The canyon will open and close several times, with a couple of sections that may require climbing up and over a few feet to descend. None of the climbing is difficult if you look around for the best route. As you near the confluence with the main fork, you see the varnished wall of the main fork as you reach the final obstacle, a 10 m ( 33 ft. ) rappel. Inspect this anchor carefully. Once down, you may want to hike up the middle fork a ways. It is deep, dark, and beautiful. When finished, simply hike down canyon to the trailhead. The section just below the right and middle confluence is very nice, and photogenic in afternoon light.

Left Fork
From the rim, contour down slick rock to the head of the left fork. Many options will work, but generally stay to the left. The fork starts with an 8 m ( 27 ft. ) drop with no obvious anchor. The anchor of choice is a wedged rock in a pothole back from the edge. Inspect this anchor carefully (which can be hard to do if the pothole is full). After this rappel, the canyon gets deeper and very interesting. Several drops in this section can be downclimbed, or rappelled off natural anchors. This fork is quite short, and you will reach the junction with the middle fork in no time. From the junction, head down canyon through an amazing deep, dark section of slot. You will have to climb over and under boulders in this section. It is narrow! A headlamp can be a good idea. Once you reach the junction with the right fork, the canyon opens a bit, and it is an easy walk back to your car.

Middle Fork
Middle fork actually starts with 2 small forks at the top. You want the left fork (looking down canyon). A downclimb or two will lead you to the first drop, a 6 m ( 20 ft. ) low angle rappel. Once down this drop, you may choose to take off your harness. The rest of the canyon is narrow, and tends to wear out gear. Head down canyon, squeezing, climbing and enjoying as you go. About 1/2 way through, you will reach a 4 m ( 14 ft. ) drop into a (sometimes) pool. Use a natural anchor here to rappel. This is the final rappel in the canyon.

Just when you don't think it can get any narrower, it does! After the rappel is where (for me), the crux narrows lies. It involves a short section I have to stem over, then squeeze through. Shortly after this, the canyon begins to widen a bit. Right after a downclimb around a pothole the left fork joins up. Breath a sigh of relief, the rest of the canyon is straightforward and wide in comparison.


Maps

Route - Right Fork / 3.51 miles / Elevation Range 4,479 - 5,050 ft.
Printable Maps:
Trailhead

12S 540747mE 4208028mN

N38° 01' 09" W110° 32' 09"

Middle Fork

12S 541913mE 4210035mN

N38° 02' 13" W110° 31' 21"

Right Fork

12S 542254mE 4209976mN

N38° 02' 11" W110° 31' 07"

Left Fork

12S 541373mE 4209637mN

N38° 02' 01" W110° 31' 43"

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