I’ve been trying to camp at least one day each month this year, and I barely squeaked in an overnight trip on the last night of August. I had just recently learned of the Farrer Trail, which is a stock trail that goes from the Green River in Gray Canyon up through some cliffs onto a mesa east of the river. I arrived in Gray Canyon after work on Friday and did a little bit of exploring before finding a place to camp. First I visited the excellent petroglyphs near the confluence of the Price and Green rivers. Then I hiked what appeared in Google Earth to be a constructed trail below the Price River confluence. As I ascended the trail, I realized it was more than likely an old road due to its width. When I reached what appeared to be the end, there was a thin piece of galvanized steel pipe protruding from the ground, which I initially didn’t pay much attention to. However, after resting and pondering for a moment, I dropped a small rock down the pipe and was very surprised to hear it bounce downward for about six seconds. That reminded me of an entry I’d read long ago in Utah’s Canyon Country Place Names about a proposed dam in Gray Canyon. The entry said the Bureau of Reclamation had drilled a hole there in 196 to test the suitability for a dam which obviously never materialized. I hiked back down to the road, found a place to camp, and enjoyed a nice sunset before reading a magazine and falling asleep pretty early.
The following morning I awakened early and ate a quick breakfast. I started hiking near camp up the Farrer Trail well before the sun hit the bottom of the deep canyon. The trail was well-defined and appeared to still be in use by livestock. There were a few sections that had been constructed with stacked rocks, and other parts that showed recent trail work with a gas-powered concrete saw that added to my belief that it was still in use today. I reached the top of the trail through the first level of cliffs and found some water bottles stashed at the top. The sun was now out and the views down toward the river were splendid.
I hiked more than a mile across relatively flat terrain before reaching the next section of constructed trail that climbed up to a mesa. Just below the next steep section there was a cowboy camp where I found a lot of broken bottles, rusty cans, and a little bit of dimensional lumber. The trail above the cowboy camp wasn’t as well-constructed as the lower section, but it was still relatively easy to follow. I reached the top of the mesa and enjoyed another flat hike of about a mile until reaching point 5,272′, which afforded a nice view over Gray Canyon and the Green River 1,000 feet below.
Instead of returning the way I’d come, which was much longer, I descended the ridge to the west of the point, then curved around to the northeast to attempt to locate an older portion of the Farrer Trail that was visible in Google Earth. I easily found the top of the trail, but it was obvious that it was no longer used. Parts of the older trail weren’t easily discernible, but other sections showed heavy construction by stacking rocks over otherwise impassable areas. It took me three attempts to connect the older section of trail with the newer trail I’d ascended. I got cliffed out once above a dryfall, and then mistakenly followed a game trail that appeared to lead me back toward the river but once again ended above a cliff. Eventually I got moving in the right direction and descended a bouldery slope and met up with the newer trail which led me back to the Jeep. The entire hike was just over six miles, but with temperatures reaching above 90 degrees when I finished, I was feeling pretty exhausted. I was grateful for the air-conditioned drive for the next hour and a half back home!