One of two short and easy hikes beginning from the old Josie Morris Cabin in the Utah portion of Dinosaur National Monument, the Hog Canyon Trail parallels the sandstone pitches of Split Mountain before turning and following a narrow cut partway into the Weber sandstone mass. This brief and family-friendly hike is the better of two walks (nearby Box Canyon is considerably shorter and somewhat less dramatic) and a nice addition to a visit to the Dinosaur Quarry and a drive on scenic Cub Creek Road.
The Hog Canyon Trail begins from the parking area at the end of Cub Creek Road, which runs for ten miles beyond the Quarry Visitor Center in the Utah section of Dinosaur National Monument. There is a restroom at the end of the dirt (but improved) track, as well as the historic homestead of Josie Bassett Morris, a notably progressive and hearty resident who lived in the cabin she built here in the Cub Creek valley for 50 years. The cabin, as well as a few other small structures, are still present here.
The Hog Canyon Trail cuts through Josie Morris’ old front yard, immediately passing a small but reliable spring (don’t drink!), followed quickly by the site of Josie’s old chicken coop on the left. Traversing riparian woodlands, the onward path passes a mucky retention pond on the right, with a secondary trail entering from the right. After passing through a gate/cattle guard, the trail emerges out into the open for the first time, revealing a look south across wispy grasslands toward Cub Creek and Daniels Canyon. The crumbly reddish ridge across the valley is composed of the familiar Moenkopi Formation, a Triassic period layer of sandstone.
Horsetail, a bamboo look-a-like, is in abundance here as the trail skirts the field and crosses a sandy drainage, with views of the imposing slopes of Split Mountain off to the left. Here the Weber sandstone (a close cousin of the better-known Navajo sandstone) forms a hulking mass, uplifted along with the Rocky Mountains and then eroded by wind, water, and ice. There are dozens of side canyons that cut partway into the 1,500-foot-high mountain, with Hog and Box Canyons being merely two.
After heading up and down a set of two humps, the trail continues through forest again, passing through another wooden cattle guard. From here the path finally cuts northward and enters Hog Canyon, fronted by a beautiful meadow with sporadic tree cover and, in spring, blooming lilies. Ahead, the Weber sandstone thrusts upward at a twisted angle, and the canyon walls notably narrow. Passing what appears like a narrow entryway, look for tafoni—speckled honeycomb weathering—in the walls on the right and left.
The riparian environment continues as the trail crosses a bridge over a minor tributary, then a second wooden span, this time over the main drainage in Hog Canyon. Cross back to the east side on a third bridge, then traverse another minor, brush-choked capillary. Just when hikers get the impression that they could continue on for miles like this, the route abruptly ends at a shady pouroff—it is possible to continue onward, although scrambling and eventually some sketchy climbing are required.
Most will want to turn around here, returning the way they came, back to Josie Morris’ Cabin. All told, this nice and easy hike is family-friendly and a pleasant jaunt with a decent amount of shade and interesting sandstone features.
Pingback: Box Canyon Trail (Dinosaur National Monument, UT) | Live and Let Hike
Pingback: Sound of Silence Trail (Dinosaur National Monument, UT) | Live and Let Hike
Pingback: Dinosaur Quarry (Dinosaur National Monument, UT) | Live and Let Hike