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Little Wild Horse and Bell Canyons - San Rafael Swell

Summary: An easy and really nice loop hike through some canyons with great narrows. Do not attempt these hikes if the forecast calls for rain.
Directions: You can get to this canyon from both inside and outside of the Swell. Most people complete this hike from the east side (which will put you much closer to the canyons), but requires driving over some sandy stretches. Drive along Highway 24 which runs between I-70 to the north and Hanksville to the south. Near mile post 137 head west on a paved road following the signs for Goblin Valley State Park. After a few miles the road continues straight and branches left towards Goblin Valley. Turn left towards Goblin Valley. Just before you reach the fee station for the park, turn right on the unpaved road with the sign for Little Wild Horse Canyon and Muddy River. Follow this road (sandy in places) to the signed trailhead for Little Wild Horse Canyon, complete with primitive privy (though it has no roof, so make sure no one is climbing around on the reef above if you decide to use it).
Road Conditions: High Clearance Vehicle
Navigation: Easy
Length: 8 Miles
Date Hiked: November, 1999
Weather Conditions: Cold
Required Skills: None
Hike Description: From the parking area walk up the drainage, following the many footprints, towards the reef. At the intersection of the washes from the two canyons, head left into Bell Canyon. Head up the canyon and when you reach the inside of the reef get on Behind the Reef Road and head right. Continue east a ways until you see the prominent break in the sandstone which indicates the mouth of Little Wild Horse Canyon. Walk into this drainage and walk down this very pretty canyon, through some very nice sections of narrows. There are a few scrambles required, but nothing difficult. When the canyon opens up, follow the wash back to the trailhead and your car.
Rating (1-5 stars):
The author and his wife completed the loop hike described above in a leisurely 5 hours, stopping frequently to take photos.
Maps: USGS: Temple Mountain, Horse Valley, Little Wild Horse Mesa and Goblin Valley (1:24,000)
Books:  Canyon Hiking Guide to the Colorado Plateau - Michael Kelsey
Photos: Click picture for larger view, click your browser's 'Back' button to return to this page.
Typical view in Little Wild
Horse Canyon.
Another view.