Trail Canyon to Joe Spring

Continuing our exploration of the Wing Trail from the previous week, four of us set out to hike in from the opposite end, beginning at the mouth of Trail Canyon and turning around at Joe Spring. Alan and I were the only ones who made both trips, with Wade and Shayne joining us this day. It was a very cold eight-mile motorcycle ride from Woodside to the mouth of Trail Canyon, and after parking the bikes it took several minutes for some of my fingers to regain feeling.

Parked at the mouth of Trail Canyon
Parked at the mouth of Trail Canyon


The steep canyon walls held the sunlight at bay for the first portion of the hike and, despite the effort of hiking, it took me a long time to warm up. We passed up the mouth of Little Park Wash and encountered a dryfall that had a short constructed trail that bypassed it. A cairn above the watercourse caught our attention and Wade climbed up to inspect it, finding a mining claim from 1932 stashed in a tobacco tin.

Checking out cliffs along the canyon
Checking out cliffs along the canyon


Trail Canyon
Trail Canyon


Sandstone layers in the watercourse
Sandstone layers in the watercourse


Boulder wedged between canyon walls
Boulder wedged between canyon walls


Constructed bypass of a dryfall
Constructed bypass of a dryfall


Backlit cottonwood tree
Backlit cottonwood tree


Wade checking out a cairn above the canyon
Wade checking out a cairn above the canyon


Tobacco tin that held a mining claim
Tobacco tin that held a mining claim


Mining claim
Mining claim


Farther up Trail Canyon were more dryfalls with a constructed trail going around them. We reached a series of constructed switchbacks that led above the canyon to Joe Spring. There we found many things of interest. A 155-foot-long trough was in disrepair. Near the trough was the remains of a bighorn sheep what was likely a mountain lion kill. It had been picked clean, and a short distance away were the sheaths of its horns. The spot where Joe Spring was supposed to be was dry, with no recent signs of water. On a ledge among some boulders were some chunks of red mineral that I assumed was red ochre, but I’ve never actually seen red ochre before so I’m uncertain what it really was.

Big wall in Trail Canyon, with Wade in the lower-left for scale
Big wall in Trail Canyon, with Wade in the lower-left for scale


Rock pinnacles at an abandoned meander
Rock pinnacles at an abandoned meander


Above the canyon’s bottom, bypassing some dryfalls
Above the canyon's bottom, bypassing some dryfalls


Trail to Joe Spring
Trail to Joe Spring


This ledge had a lot of work done to bring the trail over it
This ledge had a lot of work done to bring the trail over it


155′ long trough at Joe Spring
155' long trough at Joe Spring


Bighorn sheep, probably a cougar kill
Bighorn sheep, probably a cougar kill


Bighorn sheaths
Bighorn sheaths


Red ochre?
Red ochre?


We stopped for lunch near some ledges below Joe Spring, and there I found one of the most perfect arrowheads I’ve ever seen in the wild. It was nicely formed, fully intact, and its edges were finely serrated. After lunch we headed back down the canyon, making a side trip out of the drainage near the confluence with Little Park Wash to visit a stone cabin. The cabin was my favorite point of interest on the trip. Its walls were dry-stacked but expertly formed. The roof consisted of wooden beams with flat stones and dirt overhead. Inside was a stone bench and shelves built into the walls. The cabin seemed so out of place on the bench above the canyon, but obviously it was important to whoever built it.

Ooh, a pretty rock!
Ooh, a pretty rock!


Hiking back down Trail Canyon
Hiking back down Trail Canyon


Climbing to a stone cabin
Climbing to a stone cabin


Stone cabin
Stone cabin


Horseshoe above the door
Horseshoe above the door


View out the window
View out the window


Cabin interior
Cabin interior


Little Park Wash
Little Park Wash


Alan and the cabin
Alan and the cabin


We continued the hike down the canyon as the sun once again retreated. Reunited with our motorcycles, the group checked out the crossing of the Price River just downstream from Trail Canyon–it was a lot rougher than the last time I had seen it a couple of years earlier. We also made a few stops on the way back toward Woodside to look at rock art and the views in the canyon. Our total hiking distance was about 9.5 miles, still leaving a big chunk of the Wing Trail in the middle left to be explored.

Flower that has survived the freezing weather
Flower that has survived the freezing weather


Trail Canyon
Trail Canyon


Down some ledges
Down some ledges


Price River
Price River


Pictographs
Pictographs


Petroglyphs
Petroglyphs


Price River
Price River


Though I tried not to show it, it was a somewhat emotional day for me. Exactly ten years earlier I’d had an unpleasant experience just a few miles away. Though I still get the creeps around there, I felt empowered being able to roam freely in the area this time without having to worry about being molested.


Photo Gallery: Trail Canyon to Joe Spring
GPS Track and Photo Waypoints:
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3 thoughts on “Trail Canyon to Joe Spring

  1. hey Dennis,
    outstanding report.
    we rode up the Price River a few weeks back but the road was wet and slick so we never got to Trail Canyon where i hoped to check out Joe’s Spring.
    your report suggest way to rough for horses and alas another “spring” on maps which turns out to be dry.
    The cabin is a work of art. amazing precision.
    The horseshoe with the heels turned up to hold onto good luck is a nice touch.
    nice rock art and pretty rock too.
    excellent information.
    thanks, steve

    1. Thank you, Steve! The cabin is indeed great, and well worth the hike at least that far up Trail Canyon. There’s another cabin in Little Park Wash that’s on my to-do list to visit someday soon-ish.

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