July 17-18, 2020
This trip marks my fourth trip south this year on Utah highways 10 and 72 toward a new favorite area of the state. I had originally planned a short solo trip to hike Hilgard Mountain, but then when I learned my buddy Chris could make it I fleshed the trip out a lot more and it turned into a long weekend of driving and hiking in south-central Utah. We drove down Highway 10 on Friday afternoon and stopped along Ivie Creek to view some pictographs that we missed two years ago. After that last trip a friend informed me about some more rock art in the area so Chris and I spent some time looking for it. A closed road was an annoyance, as was the bullshit “No Trespassing” Cooperative Wildlife Management Unit sign (which we totally ignored) that was quite far from the actual CWMU boundary.
After fueling up in Loa we headed farther south and stopped in Osiris to check out some old buildings. Next we headed up the South Fork of Cottonwood Creek into the Sevier Plateau. Most of the area had been ravaged by the Sanford Fire in 2002 and it was mostly covered in young aspen trees. We found a spot to camp just off the road north of Adams Head and enjoyed a nice sunset that evening. There were fire restrictions in place so I brought a propane fire ring and we spent the evening around it drinking some beer and looking for the comet NEOWISE, which we saw but I wasn’t able to photograph.
We got up early-ish on Saturday morning and packed up camp, then drove a short distance to the Adams Head trail. We hadn’t seen any other people since leaving pavement but we did see a ’90s Toyota pickup (and judging from the many different paint colors, it was made up of several different trucks) parked near where we started our hike. The hike started out with a moderate climb up to the north-south ridge leading to Adams Head. We turned south on the ridge and had some excellent views to the west over the Right Fork of Sanford Creek toward Panguitch. After a fairly level ridge walk the trail got very steep until we reached Adams Head.
From Adams Head we could see Powell Point and several other prominent peaks. Chris and I descended the ridge to the Powell Survey Cairn which was erected in the 1870s by the John Wesley Powell survey party. We rested there and then followed our route back to the Jeep.
It took quite a bit of driving to get to our next destination at Powell Point. While driving down the South Fork of Cottonwood Creek the Frankenstein Toyota caught up with us and I let it pass, only for the driver to leave the main road shortly thereafter. We stopped at the Widtsoe Cemetery to have a brief look around and then drove up Pine Canyon to the Powell Point trailhead. The road was slow-going, especially the last four miles to the trailhead.
The mid-afternoon hike to Powell Point was short but it was pretty hot out. The views were reminiscent of Bryce Canyon National Park but without the crowds–we only saw a few people during our time on the Table Cliff Plateau.
Our plan for the rest of the day was to head north across Barney Top and descend Main Canyon/Birch Creek to Escalante, then check out several rock art sites off Highway 12. However, due to the drive taking longer and the high temperatures getting to us more than we expected, we only stopped at one pictograph panel before just making a beeline toward Hilgard Mountain for the next day’s hike.