Alcove Spring / Syncline Loop Canyonlands National Park

Moab, Utah 84532

Alcove Spring / Syncline Loop Canyonlands National Park

Alcove Spring / Syncline Loop: Canyonlands National Park Professional Review and Guide

"A multiday backpacking trip, the longest in Island in the Sky. Regrettably, the Island in the Sky District doesn’t have many long backpacking loops. Instead, most of the long hikes here are out and back.

However, you can create one very nice loop trip by combining the Alcove Spring Trail, Upheaval Canyon Trail, and part of the Syncline Loop with Taylor Canyon Road and a short section
of White Rim Road."

Alcove Spring / Syncline Loop: Canyonlands National Park Reviews

4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars4 out of 5 stars
icon3 Total
I entered at Alcove Spring at 3:00 PM and hiked to Moses and Zeus. Turning down the Canyon (east) toward Upper Taylor Canyon for my first night's camp in a side wash off the mail trail. I was the only person with a backcountry permit in the whole zone. No people anywhere - and no water either. Ditched my pack the next morning to explore Moses and Zeus and the whole area was gorgeous in the morning light. Went about a mile up The Big Draw on my way down the jeep road. Another interesting canyon, but similar to what you have already seen at that point. Hiked to the Syncline site (reserved at the backcountry office). Great sunset and an excellent setting. Full moon made for fantastic night shots. Only hiked part of the way to the middle of the crater because several people said it was not worth it as the view was better from my campsite. Exited through the northeast side of the loop (longer and more fun). Challenging at times, but excellent scenery. The walk back to the car along the road seemed to take forever, but a great loop, overall.
Hiked down Alcove Spring Trail...first mile pretty steep,then levels out to Turner Canyon Road where I spent the night. GPS had 7.2 Miles (Followed the stream bed rather than trail in parts) Climbed up and around the base of Moses and Zeus....Next Day, five miles down the road, then up upheaval canyon, and south side of sincline loop....GPS total for both days 23.6 miles. First and Last miles are steep...with 40 lb pack the out was tough and legs/feet still hurting 48 hours later. I'd do it again in a heart-beat. Only complaint was Park Ranger sold me a "Car" camp site and led me to think it was the only ticket available....would of preferred to sleep up by Zeus/Moses then the end of the jeep road. However didn't see another soul until I got down to rim-trail...couple guys on dirt bikes. Had the canyon to myself...and the rain.
I rated as only 3 stars--the scenery was breathtaking, but there is a part of the trail on the north side of the Syncline Loop that felt very dangerous with a multi-day weighted pack on. There was a short section of the trail that was a complete drop off; parts of the trail were not visible for where to take the next step. This section includes a spot with a wire drilled into the rock to hold on to and by the time we had gotten to this point with 30--40 pound packs we were not so steady on our feet. My husband and I were taken by surprise as this was never mentioned in any of the literature we had read about the trail or mentioned by the rangers at the visitors center when we registered our backcountry sites. If we had known we would have somehow better prepared ourselves (mentally, if nothing else) for that treacherous spot. Also, Alcove Spring's name in itself is deceiving--there was no water between the trailhead and the Green River.

Alcove Spring / Syncline Loop: Canyonlands National Park Photos

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Trail Information

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Nat Geo Trails Illustrated Map: Island in the Sky
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Nat Geo TOPO! Map (USGS): Upheaval Dome
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Jul 2018