On the 21st–yet another mild February day–I tagged along on a trip that Wade planned into McCarty Canyon. I absolutely love this type of route! Several parts of Wade’s route looked impossible from the satellite views, but in reality it worked out to be a wonderful hike with some scrambling required for the big elevation changes into and out of canyons. Alan carpooled with me and we met the rest of the group at Yellow Seep, east of Ferron. The group totaled 10 people and one dog: me, Alan, Josh, Wade and his family (and Sophie the dog), and Shane and his family. From Yellow Seep we followed cattle trails across relatively flat ground. Alan and I were bringing up the rear when we took a short detour to see some pit structures that he’d visited before. We crossed Mesquite Wash and caught up with the rest of the group at the rim of McCarty Canyon.
The descent into McCarty involved a little bit of scrambling. At the main watercourse we traveled upstream a short distance and then entered Little Fork. None of the forks of McCarty Canyon have official names, but Wade’s in-laws run cattle in the area so he called them by their locally-known names. In Little Fork we saw some old cowboy inscriptions dating to well over 100 years ago. There was also a cairn visible one cliff band above the canyon, and we found a way to scramble up to it hoping that it marked something interesting but, alas, it was just a pile of rocks.
Farther up the canyon was a really amazing petroglyph panel. It was difficult to see because the rock art had been re-covered in patina. Had the glyphs been clearly legible, this would probably be a very popular destination for rock art lovers. The head of Little Fork looks like a dead-end, but there’s an unlikely route through the cliffs that leads to the top. We took a break just below the canyon rim for lunch.
We picked up a horse trail just above the rim of Little Fork and began to follow it downhill into Still Fork. There we found some more rock art and a very interesting 1879 inscription, which was very early for a white man to be exploring this area.
At the confluence of Still Fork with McCarty Canyon we visited an old dugout structure and cowboy camp. We headed downstream in McCarty and climbed back out of the canyon and followed cow paths back to the vehicles. It was a wonderful 10.8 miles of hiking in a little over eight hours. This area seems to be little-explored except by a few locals. My time there felt like a very brief introduction to a place that begs for more exploration, and that might still hold some secrets.