Murphy Point Trail Professional Reviews and Guides
"An easy, ﬂat day hike or very easy overnighter with a stunning
view. The Murphy Point Trail used to be Murphy Point Road, which went to within 0.2
mile of the overlook. In 1996 the NPS converted most of the road to a trail starting
at the Murphy Trailhead. (Some older maps may still show it as a road.) This created
a nice hike with an absolutely stunning view"
--Bill Schneider, Hiking Canyonlands and Arches National Parks (Falcon Guides).
"A nice lollipop loop, but long and difficult. Unlike most trails in the Island in the Sky District, the hike into Murphy Basin is a nice lollipop loop instead of an out-and-back route. A pleasant mile-long walk on White Rim Road connects the Murphy Hogback Trail to the Murphy Wash Trail to complete the loop section of the route. This trail description follows the counterclockwise route, which allows you to walk down instead of up a hill on White Rim Road."
"This route to the rim used to be Murphy Point Road, suitable for passenger cars and not simply high-clearance or four-wheel-drive vehicles. The road led to a small parking area 0.2 mile from the overlook at the rim. In 1996, the National Park Service converted the road to a trail to preserve the more natural character of the Island in the Sky district."
--Greg Witt, 50 Best Short Hikes: Utah's National Parks (Wilderness Press).
"Murphy Point is the name given to a mile-long promontory of land that extends westward from the southern end of the Island in the Sky Mesa. It was named after the Murphy Brothers, who grazed cattle and sheep below the point from about 1916 until 1920. For many years the Park Service maintained a road to the end of Murphy Point, but in 1996 the last mile of the road was closed and made into a footpath. Since the road was closed Murphy Point now receives far fewer visitors that any of the other named viewpoints on the mesa, but in my opinion there is no finer place in the park to watch the sunset. If you can arrange to be there at the end of the day your time and energy will be well rewarded. Not only is the view unmatched but you can also enjoy a touch of wilderness, with no road noise and, more often that not, no other people. If you have never experienced a desert sunset from a high canyon rim, alone with only the sounds and smells of nature to distract you, then you really should take advantage of this trail. Just be sure to take a flashlight with you for the walk back. Alternatively, you may want to obtain a backcountry permit at the visitor center and spend a night on the point. Trail: Well marked and easy to follow."
--David Day, Canyonlands National Park: Favorite Jeep Roads & Hiking Trails (Rincon Publishing).
We started the hike rather late (1:00 PM) and finished just in time before it was dark (8:00 PM). We could have finished sooner, but were taking our time in the beginning. There was absolutely nobody else on the trail besides us. We saw a lot of people at the trail head (parking area), but I assume they went to the other easier Murphy Point overlook trail. It was VERY quiet the whole time. No life, bugs, water flowing or anything making any noise. If you stop moving, it was just dead silence. It was like you were in a different world. It was very beautiful and scenic. The only natural sound that occurred was the thunder and rain that happened for a moment on the way back. It was a refreshing way to end the hike. It was unlike any other hike I've been on. I should have put eye drops beforehand because my eyes were really red almost bloodshot looking afterwards because of the sand and dryness.
We turned left at the trail junction (Murphy Wash) and wondered why most guides suggest you to go right first. If you go right (Murphy Hogback), you see great views in front of you as you hike towards White Rim Road. Then as you take the White Rim Road to the Wash, you are going downhill rather than uphill.
Our experience with going the Wash route first is that it is very rocky, but that way you get the hard part out of the hike first. Then you hike uphill on White Rim Road (it is steep, but after doing it we didn't think it was that bad). Then at the end of the hike on the Hogback, you have a pleasant "cool down" hike on top of the mesa.
Climbing up the 1100 foot area to the Island in the Sky seemed impossible but it wasn't so bad afterwards. I was really impressed on how the trail was engineered at this part of the trail.
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