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These 3 Utah hidden gem quiet hiking trails bring you into gorgeous natural areas away from the throngs of people in National Parks. Utah provides some of the absolute quietest hiking areas in the continental United States. You can actually hear the proverbial pin drop in a couple of these canyons.
More specifically, the Scorpion Wilderness Study Area and the trails therein are incredible options.
In fact, this area of Utah has been scientifically measured using state-of-the-art instruments as one of the quietest spots in the lower 48 states. If you are sick of the noise and overcrowded conditions that ruin the natural experience, this is for you.
Hiking Utah in November
Utah provides a unique wilderness experience in November. For those brave enough to handle the cold, it is the off-season. The crowds are dwindling, and the weather is a bit colder.
You get a unique mixture of majestic views, red rock features carved by wind and water, and snow-covered peaks. Hence, it is a sight to behold not experienced in other seasons of the year.
The Dry Fork Coyote Gulch Slot Canyon, Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon, and Spooky Gulch trails are top hiking opportunities in Utah.
Each hiking trail is accessed from the same trailhead in the Scorpion Wilderness Study Area. We will break down each trail and provide you with essential information for silently exploring these hiking trails.
Where are the quietest hiking trails in Utah located?
All three hiking trails are in the Scorpion Wilderness Study Area. Located in Utah’s Colorado Plateau, the area is accessible only by dirt roads that are often impassable when flooded.
The plateau is known for its canyons, arches, and pristine natural areas. Located along the Escalante River in the southern part of the state, it is about 7 hours from Salt Lake City and 3 hours from Grand Canyon National Park.
The subset of the Scorpion Wilderness Study Area is known as the Escalante Canyons. There are numerous trails in the area. The three being highlighted here are but a few of them. Although you can easily hike these three in a day, there are plenty more in the area to explore. You may want to make a few days of it.
All three specific trails start at practically the same spot. From the parking lot, you take the short Rim Trail to the bottom of the canyon. Once there, you can take any of the three trails into the heart of the canyon.
Related post: Explore Loop Trail Hiking at Garrapata State Park
How difficult are these 3 top Quiet hiking trails in Utah?
This is where we will break down each trail individually, as the difficulties will vary. A lot of these trails intersect and connect, so difficulties carry over a touch.
Dry Fork Coyote Gulch Slot Canyon
The Dry Fork Gulch trail is pretty easy and very approachable.
Due to the terrain, this tends to get an easy-moderate rating, but the hike itself is very enjoyable for hikers of almost all ages.
The gulch is rocky at times, and you do gain a bit of elevation. But it is not very long or strenuous.
Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon
The Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon trail is super unique.
Most hikers use this trail to connect with the Spooky Gulch trail. This portion of the loop is known to be difficult for some, as the walls are narrow and the slot canyon can be tight at times.
In addition, there are some areas that are more akin to rock climbing than hiking.
Notwithstanding the effort it takes to experience it, this is an exceptional slot canyon. It does not warrant a rating harder than moderate, but based on the length, it all comes at once.
Getting into Peek-a-Boo is the hardest part. This is where the rock climbing caveat takes place.
You must climb approximately ten feet to get up to the opening.
Even though it is not a straight-up climb and there are quasi footholds in the rocks, older hikers like me don’t have the strength in their legs to make the climb.
But other than that, it is not too difficult and all about exploring and enjoying the adventure.
The back end of the loop is the Spooky Gulch trail.
This has an easy-moderate rating as the terrain is the only real obstacle. The trail itself is not hard, and there is not a ton of elevation gain or loss. As long as you can manage the sand and rocks you are set to go.
If you are completing the loop, this is the final leg before you get back to the Coyote Gulch trail. It is a very nice way to cool down while still taking in the beautiful scenery.
Elevation breakdown for these quiet hiking trails
When hiking in a state like Utah, elevation changes need to be taken seriously. It does not take much to find yourself in major elevation changes that could pose a risk.
Here is an elevation breakdown for each of the three quiet hiking trails!
Dry Fork Coyote Gulch Slot Canyon
This trail takes on the brunt of the elevation change because you are hiking down into the canyon. Several rock faces require sure-footedness on the way down.
Proper hiking shoes or boots with good grip are essential. You will hike out of the canyon back up to the Rim Trail on the way back, assuming you exit the same way you came in.
On the way in, it is a 384-foot descent into the gulch. This is nothing crazy, but most of it happens in the first half-mile. From there, it is all hiking and exploring the canyon on slight inclines and declines.
Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon & Spooky Gulch
Because the Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon and Spooky Gulch Canyon trail loop together, we will talk about the elevation with these two paired together. If you take on the loop clockwise, you are gaining elevation, then you descend back down through the Spooky Gulch trail.
You will gain about 159 feet in elevation and then lose 170 feet on the backside. These changes are very subtle and will not require a ton of output on your part.
In terms of the general elevation of the plateau, you will be just under 5000 feet. In the canyon, you will be around 4600 feet. These figures are for all three and the entire loop, so keep that in mind.
How long does it take to hike The quiet Hiking trails in Utah?
Dry Fork Coyote Gulch Slot Canyon
This trail is a little over a mile long and is quite easy.
Although some hikers can crank out a mile or two in an hour or less, this is not the type of hiking to be had here. Because the sections of trails and gulches are not very long, it is a place to take your time and explore as much as possible.
This is an area with plenty of photo stops and cool natural features, so the distance will not necessarily match up with the time it takes to complete it.
Peek-a-Boo Slot Canyon & Spooky Gulch
These two trails create an awesome loop, so they are grouped together when talking about length. You could go just on one, and double back, but many people want the whole loop experience.
The entire loop is just under a mile and a half. Although this is not a lot, the canyons, slots, and gulch features make it a longer hike than the mileage suggests.
All three of these quiet hiking trails can be finished in a day.
However, many hikers like to take a couple of days to really explore the various canyons and natural points in detail.
Camping is an option, so keep that in mind. Bear in mind that you must carry water as the canyon is dry much of the time.
Utah Hiking Seasonality
Utah is a unique area of the United States because it is seen as a hot place due to the structures and colors of its landscapes.
However, temperatures can get quite cold, especially in the winter months. These trails are open year-round, despite the winters bringing cold temperatures.
Part of the appeal is hiking in November and December as this is the off-season. You will not have to worry about big crowds and can actually take in the quiet nature of the area.
Because all of these trails are close together, the seasonality does not vary much between them. Average temperatures in the offseason sit between 40-50 degrees with overnight temperatures dipping into the 20s.
All of this being considered, summer days can get quite warm. If your schedule only allows for on-season exploring, be prepared for hot temperatures, a strong sun, and larger amounts of people. Carry plenty of water so you do not become dehydrated.
Also, always check the weather before adventuring out. Rain or freezing snow can make conditions miserable. Be sure to have rain gear and waterproof shoes or boots for when that happens.
When it rains, the canyon and slots can become dangerous quickly. Do not attempt to hike slot canyons in the rain. The Geez has seen tree limbs and debris lodged 15 feet up in narrow portions of the slot canyons.
In addition, it doesn’t have to be raining where you are for a flash flood to happen from the rain 30 miles away. It’s better to be safe than dead.
In November, rain could easily be replaced with snow. Be sure to bring hats, gloves, and anything else you need for cold temperatures. Being cold and miserable is not fun!
No Permits Needed for the Quiet Hiking Trails
If you are planning on day hiking and leaving at the end of the day, no permits are required. Where things become slightly more complicated is if you plan on camping overnight.
Because the trails in question are managed by the Bureau of Land Management, there are some interesting rules. BLM land is managed by the government and designed for public use and conservation.
This allows for “dispersed” camping. This is camping outside of designated camping areas. Some areas that are a part of BLM require permits and some do not.
In the case of the Escalante area, you do need to visit the local visitor’s center for a dispersed or backcountry permit. Thankfully, BLM fees always go back into maintenance and conservation of the area.
If you are not camping, permits are not necessary. However, trail registers are available and often located at trailheads for you to sign. This allows personnel to monitor trail usage. Also, it can be useful for determining if hikers fail to return and are potentially injured or lost.
Campgrounds for Hiking Utah in November
Again, most camping in the areas is dispersed and in the backcountry. There will be some areas on the outskirts with proper campsites, but a majority of the time, you just find a quiet place and set up for the night.
As mentioned above, if you want to camp in the backcountry, be sure to obtain a permit, or call to see if one is necessary at the time of camping.
Remember it is cold at night if you are hiking in Utah in November. Night-time temp is usually in the 20’sF. That is darn cold! Make sure you have your 0-degree sleeping bag with you, along with other good equipment for the cold if you decide to camp.
Otherwise, there are some lodges and campgrounds in the surrounding area you can book. There are some really nice cabin camping opportunities in the area if you are okay with having to drive in. If you want to be right by the trailhead, tent camping is your main option.