Bears Ears Backpack: Polly's Canyon and Grand Gulch

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Update 1: Settled on Thursday. April 18 - Sunday, April 21, 2019
Update 2: Signons and notifications sent 12/31/2018
Update 3: Added map and changed description.

This is a 3-night backpack into the Bears Ears, also known as Cedar Mesa, in Southeastern Utah. It goes like this:

Day 1: Drive to Kane Gulch Ranger Station on Highway 261 and meet at 4:00 PM. We will then follow each other to the first night's trailhead camp. It is about a mile from the actual trailhead. The road from here gets very rough so we may leave our cars here.

Day 2: Hike down to the actual trailhead and onto the Government Trail. We follow it to Grand Gulch and our basecamp at the confluence of Grand Gulch and Polly's Canyon. The campsite only has room for 3 tents so the rest of us will need to find campsites nearby.

Once set up, we can do a day hike up Polly's Canyon. We can go as far as the pour-off or turnaround at any point before.

Day2 Stats: 3.51 miles, 782 feet descent. Dayhike: Up to 8 miles and 1500 feet.

Day 3: After spending the night at our base camp we'll head downstream in Grand Gulch to see what we can see and there will be plenty. My goal for this day is to reach Bannister House Ruin. We may not make it that far but there will still be a lot of rock art in this section of The Gulch. We will have to get past a pour-off to complete this section.

Day3 Stats: 11 miles and 941 feet ascent minus side trips.

Day 4: After another night at our base camp, we will do a short day hike up to the Big Man Pictograph site. Those who rode with drivers who are up to it can go farther if they wish. Those that ride with SK Lund will need to turnaround here. We hike back, break camp and climb back to the cars for the drive home.

Day4 Stats: The day hike is 2.54miles and 529 feet ascent. The hike back to the cars is 4.51 and 970 feet of ascent.

I usually stop in Bluff for a shower ($5.00) and food somewhere on the way home.

Hike Map with downloadable GPS tracks and waypoints:

Signons: They are established as of 12/31/1028. Everyone will be contacted 3 more times on February 1st, March 1st, and April 1st. This is to avoid zombie RSVPs and give everyone a chance for this popular trip. Please pay attention to your messages. Download the following document and hand it to the event host on hike day if you have not been out with this group before.

The dirt road leading to the trailhead is rough in spots. 4x4/high clearance vehicles are a good idea but an AWD vehicle with good tires can do it. Note that a consistent rain on this road will stop us due to mud and we will have remain in our trailhead camp until things dry out. I'm limiting this trip to 12 persons due to the tight space at Polly's Camp. I can carry 2 to 3 passengers and group gear. I'll add a driving map when I get a chance.

Following are some trip reports that I have done in this area.

SK Lund