Syncline Loop Trail Professional Reviews and Guides
"Upheaval Dome is as interesting as its name suggests, although it’s not quite correct in its description. Upheaval Crater would be a more accurate designation for the main feature around which the Syncline Loop winds. A few theories abound as to the cause of this captivating landmark, which is even visible from space: the impact crater theory and the salt dome theory. For your purposes, though, what you really need to know is that this is an incredible and unique hiking area."
--Julie K. Trevelyan , 100 Classic Hikes Utah (The Mountaineers Books).
"A long day hike or overnighter and perhaps the premier hike in Island in the Sky. This trail is the best choice for a long loop in the Island in the Sky District. With two exceptions (Neck Spring and Murphy), all other long trails in the district are out-and-back or shuttle hikes. Try for an early start, especially if you plan to cover this trail all in one day. This can be a long, hot day hike in canyon country. The hike involves one very difficult section of rock scrambling, and the NPS has posted a sign at the trailhead warning hikers about how strenuous this hike can be. That would be doubly true on a hot summer day. In any case, bring plenty of water."
--Bill Schneider, Hiking Canyonlands and Arches National Parks (Falcon Guides).
This trail was tough. Really tough. We did it on an unseasonably hot day at the end of September, and despite having 'enough' water we ran out. We did the trail counter-clockwise, and a beautiful descent (but hard and tiring) led to the canyon and some beautiful sights. There is little shade, and not a lot of easy hiking where you can make up time. It took 7 hours to do this hike, with the final 2 hours a brutal three-part ascent with a ton of rough switchbacks. Totally worth it though for awesome views!
This trail was my introduction into Canyonlands, and it has a variety of outstanding canyon visuals as well as grueling hiking. I did it clockwise, and a beautiful descent down into the canyon is only second to the Grand Canyon in full scale grandeur. The canyon bottom had flowing streams (in early November) and cottonwoods. The side trail into the heart of upheaval crater should be done. Afterwords, the first part of the hike up the Syncline valley part of the trail is almost comically tough, with only helpful chains and cables keeping one from exhausted despair. But the trail soon levels into a variety of terrain - meadow, brush - even a bog(!). The trail was a great intro into an area I wish I had spent more time in. There will be some confusing cairns at points, but I would do this one again. Try it!
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