Farrer Trail

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.

Dark clouds over the cliffs of Gray Canyon
Dark clouds over the cliffs of Gray Canyon

Price River confluence petroglyphs
Price River confluence petroglyphs

1965 Bureau of Reclamation road
1965 Bureau of Reclamation road

Drill hole
Drill hole

View downstream from proposed Gray Canyon dam site
View downstream from proposed Gray Canyon dam site

Price River confluence
Price River confluence

My goal for the next day
My goal for the next day

Camp spot along the Green River
Camp spot along the Green River

Green River
Green River

Last light on the cliffs to the east
Last light on the cliffs to the east

Colorful clouds to the south
Colorful clouds to the south

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.

View up Gray Canyon from the beginning of the hike
View up Gray Canyon from the beginning of the hike

Lower Farrer Trail
Lower Farrer Trail

Sunrise in Gray Canyon
Sunrise in Gray Canyon

Trail between cliff bands
Trail between cliff bands

A short constructed section of trail
A short constructed section of trail

Recent trail improvements to give animals more traction
Recent trail improvements to give animals more traction

More recent trail improvements
More recent trail improvements

Gray Canyon panorama
Gray Canyon panorama

A view up the river
A view up the river

One last constructed section on the first level
One last constructed section on the first level

Water bottles stashed at the top
Water bottles stashed at the top

Panorama from the first level of the Farrer Trail
Panorama from the first level of the Farrer Trail

Looking back down the trail
Looking back down the trail

Cairn marking the top of the trail
Cairn marking the top of the trail

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.

Walking along a flat stretch
Walking along a flat stretch

View into a canyon
View into a canyon

"Regular Grind" coffee can
"Regular Grind" coffee can

Punch Here
Punch Here

"Improved Top" tobacco tin
"Improved Top" tobacco tin

The ridge leading up the second level
The ridge leading up the second level

Trail up the second level
Trail up the second level

Trail up the second level
Trail up the second level

A relatively flat walk on the mesa
A relatively flat walk on the mesa

Fire ring(?) at another cowboy camp
Fire ring(?) at another cowboy camp

View from point 5,272′
View from point 5,272'

Price and Green confluence
Price and Green confluence

The Swell Jeep waiting below
The Swell Jeep waiting 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!

View down the point
View down the point

Steep route down from the point
Steep route down from the point

Rafters on the Green River
Rafters on the Green River

Cairn marking the top of an old section of trail
Cairn marking the top of an old section of trail

Horseshoe
Horseshoe

Old trail
Old trail

Heavy construction on the old trail
Heavy construction on the old trail

Heavy construction on the old trail
Heavy construction on the old trail

Cliffed out above a dryfall
Cliffed out above a dryfall

:-)
:-)

Game trail that led me astray
Game trail that led me astray

Back on the main trail
Back on the main trail

GPS stats
GPS stats


Photo Gallery: Farrer Trail
GPS Track:
[KMZ] [GPX]

2 thoughts on “Farrer Trail

  1. Interesting post on the history on the old 2 track.
    Have u hiked a bit further upstream into Rattlesnake Canyon?
    Looking at google earth the territory to the east of the Green over to the Tribal land is about as remote as anywhere in Utah and Rattlesnake having plenty of water should have attracted habitation from way back.
    I see the walls of a 25 foot long cabin around 5 miles walk upstream and a little out building in the creek bottom in a little wide place. Uranium miner? Cowboy cabin?

    1. I haven’t been into Rattlesnake Canyon, but would like to. It looks like a long hike to get to that old cabin since you have to start at the end of the road near the Nefertiti put-in/take-out. Steve Allen’s book mentions that cabin, which is how I spotted it in Google Earth. The book also mentions a constructed trail going up the cliffs to the south of the cabin. I would guess it’s maybe a cowboy cabin?

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