The Hayduke Trail is a tough hike across beautiful landscapes that include climbing down canyons, climbing up canyons, crossing rivers, and maneuvering across slick rocks while making your way across sandy pathways. There are also no signs indicating the way, so you might wonder how long it takes to hike the Hayduke Trail?
A strong hiker can hike the Hayduke Trail in 2-3 months with proper planning and preparation. Following the route set out by Hayduke pioneers, Mike Coronella and Joe Mitchell will massively contribute to a shorter hike overall. The fastest hike was done in 32 days by Andrew Skurka.
The Hayduke Trail is not an easy hike by any stretch of the imagination. The Redrock Wilderness of the American Southwest is what you get to experience on the Hayduke Trail. Time is not important with this hike but rather how well you manage to hike the everchanging terrain.
How Long Does It Take To Hike The Hayduke Trail?
The Hayduke Trail – named after a fictional character in Edward Abbey’s The Monkey Wrench – is an 800-mile backcountry route that stretches across the Colorado Plateau. The rugged landscape tests the hiker on all technical fronts as the trail doesn’t follow the easiest route but rather the road less traveled.
When taking on the varied terrain that makes up the Hayduke Trail, the completion time will depend on the hiker’s strength, stamina, and overall determination. The hiker’s route can also affect the overall mile count and finish time.
With proper preparation and planning, the Hayduke Trail Hike can be hiked in 2-3 months by averaging 10-20 miles per day, including rest days and refilling stops.
You need to consider that the Hayduke Trail is not a set-in-stone trail; rather, it’s a network of dirt roads, standalone trails, and off-road trail segments that combine to form some semi-cohesive routes.
It can best be described as a choose-your-own-adventure type of trail, where one hiker’s mileage can amount to 1,000 plus miles when not following the suggested routes set out by the trailblazers.
Who Pioneered The Hayduke Trail?
The pioneers of the Hayduke Trail were Mike Coronella and Joe Mitchell. They spent hundreds of days “mapping” the trail, exploring the six National Parks, and setting down a semi-followable “path” that included landmarks instead of actual signs during the late 90s. They divided the Hayduke into 14 hikable sections to make planning a hike through the area easier.
Do yourself a huge favor and read their book – The Hayduke Trail: A Guide To The Backcountry Hiking Trail On The Colorado Plateau – it will help you plan your whole trip. The book gives insightful information regarding cache points, detailed maps, tips, and trip descriptions to help guide you through the intense journey.
Another famous backpacker, Andrew Skurka, wrote a book about his experiences after completing a thru-hike of the Hayduke Trail called Hayduke Trail Hiking Resources Bundle.
A word from the author regarding the book: “The Bundle contains four critical resources if you plan to hike all or parts of the Hayduke Trail: a Handbook, Databook, Water Chart, and Map set. It is a compliment to, not a supplement for, the HDT guidebook.”
My advice is to invest in both books before you even start to plan a thru-hike or section hike of the Hayduke Trail. The experience and knowledge found between them are invaluable. Here are some journal entries from hikers that have completed the Hayduke Trail; it makes for some insightful reading.
Who Has Completed The Hayduke Trail In The Fastest Time?
The honor of the fastest time rests with adventurer and guide Andrew Skurka, who finished the trail in 32 days in 2009. Seeing that the Hayduke is a route with lots of alternatives, the trail community is not too bothered by the fastest times, focusing on the experience instead.
What To Expect When Hiking The Hayduke Trail
“Warning! Because of the extremely challenging and dangerous nature of this route, you must be a very experienced desert backpacker in peak physical condition before attempting any section of the Hayduke Trail! Thru-hikers beware! The Hayduke Trail traverses intensely rugged terrain, is largely off-trail, is not signed and ranges in elevation from 1,800 feet in the Grand Canyon to 11,419 atop Mt. Ellen’s South Summit!”
Traditionally, the Hayduke is hiked westbound, starting in Arches National Park and finishing some 800+miles later in Zion National Park. The western half of the Hayduke route receives a later snowfall than the eastern half, hence the reason for the direction of the hike.
You will hike through Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon, and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument throughout your journey. The Hayduke Trail is made out of 14 sections.
Also on the trail are the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, numerous National Forests, Primitive Areas, Wilderness Study Areas, and BLM Districts. The Hayduke Trail is not maintained in any way or form. Maps and GPS technology are vital when hiking the Hayduke Trail.
Don’t expect designated signs along the trail. You can expect old jeep roads, sandy washes, slot canyons, Slickrock, rivers, lots of sand, and the most picturesque sections of the Colorado Plateau between Southern Utah and Northern Arizona.
You can expect to do some fast miles on the dirt roads, sandy canyon bottoms, and flat mesas. Slower miles will include descents into a canyon, climbing out of canyons, bushwhacks, sketchy slick rocks navigation, and misreading maps during off-trail navigation.
Click here to watch a video made by Wilderness Mindset that showcases one man’s journey on the Hayduke Trail. Check out the book released by channel founder Alex Maier, The Regular Life – which details his whole journey.
Resupplying On The Hayduke Trail
There will be dry sections with no water sources whatsoever where you will have to carry your weight in water. Stocking up on supplies can only be done in certain towns and outposts, so be careful to plan them into your hike, as running out of supplies in the desert can be life-threatening.
Section 1 – Moab, UT
- Section 1 of the route passes through Moab fairly early into the trip.
- Moab has grocery stores, a US post office, and other supply stores.
Section 4 – Hite and Hanksville, UT
- Section 4 guides you past Hite, where you will find a general store where you can stock up on trail mix, energy bars, and water.
- Section 4 ends along the Utah State Route 95 – a short hike to Hanksville, which has a couple of restaurants, one grocery store, and other services.
Section 7 – Henrieville and Cannonville, UT
- Section 7 runs close to the small towns of Henrieville and Cannonville – both have a few motels and lodges – not much else.
Section 10 – Jacob Lake, AZ
- Section 10 connects you with many dirt roads, Highway 89A, and the small town of Jacob Lake, AZ.
- Stop at the Chevron gas station and the Jacob Lake Inn to restock your supplies.
Section 12 and 13 – Grand Canyon, AZ
- When on the South Rim of the majestic Grand Canyon, you will find a full grocery store and a few places to camp and lodge.
- As you pass over the Colorado River, you will find the Phantom Ranch, where you can order to-go breakfasts, sack lunches, and to-go dinners. Beverages and snacks can be bought from the Canteen’s side window from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., and alcohol sales will be limited to two beverages per person.
- On the Nothern Rim of the Grand Canyon, you buy basic snacks and beverages in the North Rim Village.
- Grand Canyon Lodge for pick-up. It also has a full store and laundry facilities. May 15 is the time that they open each year.
Section 14 – Colorado City, AZ and Zion National Park
- The last section of the hike (14) will bring you close to Colorado City, where you can purchase supplies and groceries, and there are also a few lodging options.
- The Hayduke Trail ends in the middle of Zion National Park, where you can use the free shuttles on hand to transport you to the visitor centers.
The Hayduke Trail is not for the hiker taking part in his first hike. Even strong, experienced hikers will struggle to complete this challenging hike through the Colorado Plateau.
Preparation and planning are key to this hike, and you should put much thought into the planning phase. Print maps and study the guides listed in the article to get an idea of what you will be up against.