Category Archives: Rock Art

Adams Head and Powell Point

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.

Handprint pictographs
Handprint pictographs

Many handprints are quite small
Many handprints are quite small

Red handprints and pigment splatter
Red handprints and pigment splatter

Verda Rasmussen, R.C. Rasmussen, 1951
Verda Rasmussen, R.C. Rasmussen, 1951

Wonderful pictographs along Ivie Creek
Wonderful pictographs along Ivie Creek

Scary sign near the pictographs
Scary sign near the pictographs

Several familiar names in the visitor register
Several familiar names in the visitor register

Bullshit CWMU sign 1.35 miles from the actual private property boundary
Bullshit CWMU sign 1.35 miles from the actual private property 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.

Old creamery at Osiris, Utah
Old creamery at Osiris, Utah

Rock formations along the South Fork of Cottonwood Creek
Rock formations along the South Fork of Cottonwood Creek

View from camp into the Right Fork of Sanford Creek
View from camp into the Right Fork of Sanford Creek

Friday’s sunset
Friday's sunset

Clouds at sunset
Clouds at sunset

View from camp toward Adams Head
View from camp toward Adams Head

Layers of mountains to the west
Layers of mountains to the west

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.

Camp on Saturday morning
Camp on Saturday morning

Start of the Adams Head trail
Start of the Adams Head trail

Ridge view
Ridge view

A very steep climb
A very steep climb

Adams Head and a rock formation
Adams Head and a rock formation

Last “flat” stretch before a steep climb
Last "flat" stretch before a steep climb

Rough terrain below
Rough terrain below

The town of Panguitch beyond Blind Spring Mountain
The town of Panguitch beyond Blind Spring Mountain

Junction with the Hunt Trail
Junction with the Hunt Trail

Bird on a dead tree branch
Bird on a dead tree branch

Fireweed along the trail
Fireweed along the trail

Blind Spring Mountain through a crack in the rocks
Blind Spring Mountain through a crack in the rocks

Last push to Adams Head
Last push to Adams Head

Mount Baldy and Mount Belknap in the Tushars to the north
Mount Baldy and Mount Belknap in the Tushars to the north

View west from Adams Head
View west from Adams Head

Adams Head survey marker
Adams Head survey marker

Little Creek Peak
Little Creek Peak

Powell Point viewed from Adams Head
Powell Point viewed from 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.

Heading down the ridge toward the Powell Survey Cairn
Heading down the ridge toward the Powell Survey Cairn

View into the South Fork of Cottonwood Creek
View into the South Fork of Cottonwood Creek

Powell Survey Cairn
Powell Survey Cairn

One of several old nails at the Powell Survey Cairn
One of several old nails at the Powell Survey Cairn

Hiking back down the ridge
Hiking back down the ridge

Sego Lily
Sego Lily

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.

Grave marker at the Widtsoe Cemetery
Grave marker at the Widtsoe Cemetery

Powell Point sign
Powell Point sign

How long do aspen trees live?
How long do aspen trees live?

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.

Powell Point trailhead
Powell Point trailhead

Views along the Powell Point trail
Views along the Powell Point trail

Blazes in living and dead trees
Blazes in living and dead trees

Taking in some incredible views
Taking in some incredible views

A view toward Adams Head
A view toward Adams Head

Trail between two fallen trees
Trail between two fallen trees

Powell Point
Powell Point

Upper Valley and the Blues
Upper Valley and the Blues

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.

Split tree: Grant Twitchell, Escalante, Utah, July 15, 1923 (part 1 of 2)
Split tree:  Grant Twitchell, Escalante, Utah, July 15, 1923 (part 1 of 2)

Split tree: Grant Twitchell, Escalante, Utah, July 15, 1923 (part 2 of 2)
Split tree:  Grant Twitchell, Escalante, Utah, July 15, 1923 (part 2 of 2)

Great advice when out in the bush
Great advice when out in the bush

Birch Creek pictographs
Birch Creek pictographs

Inscriptions across the Birch Creek rock art
Inscriptions across the Birch Creek rock art

Granaries along Birch Creek
Granaries along Birch Creek


Photo Gallery: Adams Head and Powell Point
GPS Track and Waypoints: Google Earth KMZ