Hayduke Trail Day 40: A Trail of Two Canyons: Hack and Kanab

Daily Neat Beat
Day 40
Total Miles: 13.9
Cumulative Miles: 663.9
Map of Hayduke Trail Day 40, from Kanab Creek and into Hack Canyon

Today we will be hiking in a valley that radiates heat like a hot phone and it is expected to be “bloody hot” as the English would say. Hack Canyon is named after a local rancher named Haskell Jolly who went by the name of “Hack”. 

Hack Canyon is open and dry

I have mixed feelings about Hack Canyon. On one hand, it provides the quickest and easiest way into the Kanab Creek drainage with all it’s side canyons of slickrock, rock art and sculptures, and narrow canyons with glistening and bubbling waterfalls and pools. On the other hand, it is open and dry with a scorched landscape. There is no hiding from the sun in Hack Canyon.

The change is gradual going upcanyon from the sinuous and windy rope-like nature of Kanab Canyon to the arrow-straight directness of Hack Canyon. We get started early because we have eight miles to hike up Kanab before we turn into Hack Canyon.  We soon pass by the entrance to Flipoff Canyon which is also called Dave’s or Butterfly Canyon. 
The entrance to Flipoff Canyon

We have hiked up this canyon in the past and have come down from the north rim on the Flipoff Route several times. Camping on the Esplanade above Flipoff Canyon is one of my a favorite places to camp. But we pass by it today as we are headed up Hack.

Desert cottontails rarely need to drink getting most of their water from plants that it eats

We get to the junction of Hack and Kanab around 9am and the heat is starting to build but we are happy that we have made good time. The last time we hiked down Kanab from Hack was only two years ago in 2016 and we had to bushwhack part of it between Chamberlain and Hack Canyons. But someone has done trail work – thank you federal agencies or ranchers, whoever has improved this section.

There is now a good solid trail in Kanab Creek between Chamberlain and Hack Canyons

We take a break at the junction of Hack and Kanab and chug some water we had carried from Crack Baby. “Cameling up” will help us for the next six miles up Hack. It does and allows us to pass by Willow (or Black Willow) Spring which has a sign saying “Water Not Suitable For Drinking”.

Willow Spring – the sign says “Water Not Safe for Drinking”

Ray has had his Groundwater class analyze samples from this spring and determine if there is any hydrologic connection to nearby Uranium Mine sites. The quality of the water exceeds radioactivity levels and is high in strontium and sulfate.  But the uranium levels are below standard. We take the signs advice and don’t drink it.

A red tail hawk perches on a ledge in Hack Canyon

We get to our vehicle around noon but it was hot enough I developed a heat rash. My skin has always been sensitive that way. Kind of a minor thing when I think about all the things that could go wrong out here.

Apache plumes are showy and wave around like pompoms

This was a great section and I really enjoyed seeing Showerbath Spring, Whispering Falls, Deer Creek and other gems of the Grand Canyon. The Canyon will test you but it delivers with big rewards.



  1. What a great account. Cathy and I have done quite a few trips in this vicinity, but not yet made it all the way down to the Colorado. I guess we’ll have to take inspiration from your trip, and get our butts in gear!

    1. Hey Erik! You could do a trip down Kanab with camps in Kwagunt or Sowats, Showerbath Spring and Whispering Falls junction with a day hike to the Colorado and then back again. It would be a 6 day trip without having to do the boulder mash along the Colorado. 😊

Leave a Reply