Stage 1 : Moab - Kane Creek
Possible water source
The starting point for our route is the Moab Information Center at the corner of Center Street and Main Street (S01P05).
From here, we cross Main St, and walk west for 1 block, then take a left for 1 block. We follow the trail west along the pleasant Mill Creek Parkway, with the creek running on the right-hand side. After a half-mile, the trail reaches a paved road, S500W (S01P10). To the right is an underpass, along which the Parkway continues. This should be ignored (the National Geographic map for Moab appears to show a trail continuing east, but in actuality, it appears to peter out before meeting private property); instead, we take a left, heading south, and walk along S500W for a quarter-mile until Kane Creek Road is encountered. We take a right here, and continue along this road, with the magnificent Colorado River soon appearing on the right.
Look out for some basic rock-art petroglyph panels on the cliff-walls to the left, as you make your way along Kane Creek Road.
There are several developed campgrounds (usually full) along this road, but none has running water, until the final one, at the head of Pritchett Canyon (S01P15). Each of the RV sites at this small commercial campground has a standpipe, so it should be possible to easily obtain water here. We are now almost 5 miles from our starting point in Moab.
This road soon becomes a well-maintained dirt road, before climbing almost 300’ upto an unnamed pass. Look out for the interesting ‘Birthing Panel’ of petroglyphs on your right, as you make your way up Kane Creek Road.
You are likely to see off-road vehicles and mountain-bikes on the trails around this area. Also, notice the stunning high cliffs on your left as you climb higher; these are amongst the most famous BASE jump cliffs in the entire country. Keep an eye out for jumpers.
Hopefully Kane Creek will be flowing below you on the right, providing a lush green riparian area.
The long climb up this road is all worthwhile, with some superb views of distant red-rock cliffs from the pass. The road dives steeply, at the bottom of which is a strongly flowing spring, with water coming straight out of the cliff wall (S01P20). The National Geographic map shows a small campground just past the spring, but this is now closed, to allow the area to regenerate. There are plenty of cottonwoods near the road here, as Kane Creek flows close by.
After another mile, you will find the pleasant Hunter Canyon campground. However, there are only 10 sites here, so you would have to arrive early to bag a spot.
Emerging after another half-mile from the narrow sandstone canyon, the area opens up. Kane Creek Road is then flattish for a couple of miles, before climbing gently towards the Ledge camping area (S01P25). There are a series of campgrounds nearby, called the Ledge A-E, which have 105 sites in total. This is a good option for your first night’s camping, having walked 10.5 miles from Moab.
Close to the campgrounds, look out for an interesting large isolated rock formation about 100 yards off the road on your left hand side. This formation is called the ‘Devil’s Golf Ball’.
Note that, after leaving Moab it is forbidden to camp alongside Kane Creek Road, and there are plenty of warning signs along the road. Thus, to locate a site for the first night, the best option would probably be to leave Moab early, and grab a first-come, first-served spot at one of the Ledge campgrounds. Alternatively, if you are willing to walk 12 miles from Moab, the Kane Creek camping restriction ends, and it will be possible to wild-camp, without any issues. Another option is obviously to get ‘creative’ about finding a discrete spot.
S01P05 N38° 34.385' W109° 33.029' Moab Information Center
S01P10 N38° 34.323' W109° 33.677' Trail meets S500W
S01P15 N38° 32.121’ W109° 35.955’ Possible water at RV campground
S01P20 N38° 31.105' W109° 35.696' Possible water from wall-spring
S01P25 N38° 29.063' W109° 36.277' Ledge camping area