Syncline Loop Trail

Canyonlands National Park - Island In The Sky District, Utah

Elevation Gain2,920ft
Trailhead Elevation5,694ft
Elevation Min/Max4237/5753ft
Elevation Start/End5694/5694ft

Syncline Loop Trail

Syncline Loop Trail is a hiking trail in San Juan County, Utah. It is within Canyonlands National Park - Island In The Sky District. It is 7.9 miles long and begins at 5,694 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 8.2 miles with a total elevation gain of 2,920 feet. Along the trail there is a spring. This trail connects with the following: Upheaval Dome Trail, Upheaval Crater Spur Trail and Upheaval Canyon Trail.

Syncline Loop Trail Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

100 Classic Hikes Utah (The Mountaineers Books)
Julie K. Trevelyan
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"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." Read more
Hiking Canyonlands and Arches National Parks (Falcon Guides)
Bill Schneider
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"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." Read more
Canyonlands National Park: Favorite Jeep Roads & Hiking Trails (Rincon Publishing)
David Day
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"This interesting trail traces out a loop around Upheaval Crater, an ancient crater on the edge of the Island in the Sky Mesa. The crater lies at the top of what appears to be a huge salt dome, and for many years geologists thought the depression was the result of a collapse in the center of the dome. The structure was called Upheaval Dome. New geologic evidence, however, has almost completely ruled out this theory, and now most scientists believe the pit to be an impact crater. There is usually water in the bottom of the valley, and the Park Service has also established a primitive campsite nearby for overnight hikers with backcountry permits. Trail: The trail is steep and rocky in one or two places, but well marked and easy to follow. There is usually water in Syncline Valley, 3.4 miles from the trailhead, but it must be purified before drinking." Read more

Syncline Loop Trail Reviews

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Very demanding terrain but the views are fantastic. Actual length of this hike is slightly over 9 miles.
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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!
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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!

Syncline Loop Trail Photos

Trail Information

Canyonlands National Park - Island In The Sky District
Nearby City
Canyonlands National Park - Island In The Sky District
Canyonlands National Park, Island in the Sky District
Local Contacts
USGS Upheaval Dome
Local Maps