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Colorado Overlook Trail (& Loop) - Canyonlands National Park, Maze District

Summary: A loop hike with good views of the Colorado River (can also be done as a shorter out and back hike).
Directions: From Highway 95 in Utah the entrance to the Maze is located just north of the Hite Marina between the Colorado and Dirty Devil Rivers.  Between mile posts 46-47 turn east on a dirt road.  After a short distance you will come to a information board.  Drive down this well graded dirt road for 30 miles (stay right at the split along the way).  Note: at the 27 mile point you will pass a sign for the "Orange Cliff Ranger District".  After 30 miles you will come to a signed 4-way intersection, turn right following the arrow to Standing Rocks/Doll House 20 miles.  A short distance past this area the road begins to roughen until you reach a "4-wheel drive only" sign near Teapot Rock at which point it becomes down right terrible - take it slow.  After what seems like an eternity you will pass a small parking area outlined by rocks on the left hand side.  This is the parking area for The Golden Stairs Trail.  Continue on until you see a small sign on the left for The Wall Campsite.  Continue past The Wall, then around Lizard Rock, past The Plug and Standing Rock until you reach the finger shaped formation called Chimney Rock.  Stay right and continue down some more rough road until you reach a sign for Doll House camps.  Turn left towards Camps 1 & 2.  A short distance later the trail head can be seen on the left hand side.
Road Conditions: 4-Wheel Drive only!
Navigation: Easy
Length: ~14 miles (some guessing here)
Date Hiked: November, 2000
Weather Conditions: Cool
Required Skills:
Hike Description: From the trail head walk up the sandy wash.  The well marked trail then winds it's way through standing rocks, over sandy tracks, through canyons and on top of slick rock.  Eventually you will come to a large outcropping of rock on the left and views down to the Colorado River on the right.  The National Geographic Map shows the trail ending here, but in fact it continues a ways across the sandstone to where the river makes an abrupt looping curve.  You can return the way you came or back track to the standing rocks and turn right just before reaching them.  This short loop trail circles the rocks and connects back to the River Overlook trail a short time later (not well marked at first, but becoming more clear as you go, after climbing a short notch there is a sign looking some what out of place reading "Colorado River Viewpoint Loop").  Once back at the Overlook Trail, continue back the way you came and in a few minutes you will reach the right branching Shot Canyon Trail.  For a longer hike turn right on this trail and follow it across some fields and eventually into the fairly wide & uninteresting Shot Canyon.  Note: along the way you will cross Water Canyon which has cairns leading down canyon to the right.  Unless you want to walk down to the river stay on the cairned route to the left at this point & climb up and out of Water Canyon.  The trail continues up Shot Canyon finally climbs steeply out and continues cross country before arriving at Chimney Rock.  The stairs that exist for part of the climb were, by one account, constructed by cattle rustlers as a means of conveying their contraband into Shot Canyon for concealment.  Once you arrive at Chimney Rock, turn left (south) on the road and walk it the final hour back to your car.
Rating (1-5 stars):
The author and his wife completed the loop hike described above in about 7 hours.
Maps: Trails Illustrated - Canyonlands Maze District NE Glen Canyon
Photos: Click picture for larger view, click your browser's 'Back' button to return to this page.
A scenic viewpoint. The overlook for which
the hike is named.
Slickrock country.