Moab, Utah (SanJuan) Technical Rating: 5
Last Updated: 11-27-2016
Colorado River Overlook, Elephant Hill, Hurrah Pass, Davis Canyon, Colorado River Overlook Alternate Route, The Catacomb Spur
BLM/Monticello Field Office
Lockhart Basin Highlights
Traveling over a great distance and deep into the heart of desert and canyon country, a sense of freedom is the feeling you get when on the Lockhart Basin offroad trail just outside of Moab, Utah. It is remote and far from the traffic jam you experience on many of the other popular trails in the area. This route is often used to avoid pavement when going from the Moab area to the Canyonlands Needles District. Along the way, you witness the fortress-like walls of Hatch Point to one side of you, and the intricate and humbling canyon benches that were formed over time by the mighty Colorado River to the other. The trail is great for a long day or can be combined with other trails for a multi-day overland trip for capable rigs.
Technical rating: (5) Moderate
Rutted and/or rocky road. No shelves. Rocks up to 12" and water crossings up to 12" with possible currents. Passable mud. Moderate grades to 15 degrees. 6" holes. Side hill to 20 degrees. 4WD required. No width problems.
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Directions to Trailhead
The first mile is notorious for unsuspecting drivers. Although the majority of the trail is relatively easy, the first portion contains ever-changing obstacles that are unavoidable and require a high clearance vehicle. The moderate rating is strictly due to this first mile, where the remainder of the trail is far less technical. The route recommended and described here starts from the north, just off of Chicken Corners and travels south, all the way to the Canyonlands Needles District. The trail comprised primarily of rock and dirt, mixed with a few spots of slick rock. After the first mile, the trail subdues into a nice comfortable ride with just a few intermittent obstacles along the way. Towards the southern half, the trail turns into a graded maintained road.
For more information: Bureau of Land Management Monticello Field Office 365 North Main Monticello, Utah 84535 Phone: (435) 587-1500
Open seasonally, from March 1st through November 1st, is the Needles Outpost, where you can get fuel and supplies without having to go Moab or Monticello.
2: Turn Southeast/Left (0.1mi)
Turn southeast/left onto the area just slightly rising above the wash. This is very easy to miss.
3: Turn East/Left Uphill (0.2mi)
Where the trail has a slick rock area, turn east/left and uphill. This turn is very easy to miss but you will quickly know if you missed it when the wash dead-ends into an impassable area.
7: Short Climb (0.7mi)
Follow up the well-defined hill. In the past, this hill was notoriously off-camber, but not at the time of writing this guide.
9: V Notch (0.9mi)
Follow the canyon up the v-notch. After this short section, the passing opportunities are very limited for the next mile. The trail will subdue for a short section before reaching the double obstacles just ahead.
10: Double Obstacles (1.0mi)
Continue up the canyon through the series of ever-changing obstacles. Following these obstacles, the trail will take a sharp turn and morph into a narrow shelf road rising out of the canyon.
12: Scenic (2.0mi)
Continue following the road. You can see all across the area from here, with distinct views of the benches formed by the Colorado River. Note: Late in the day, this portion of the trail is mostly in shade.
14: Obstacle (2.5mi)
As you descend, you will need to go up and over the obstacle then drive southwest along the trail.
17: Downhill (4.8mi)
Continue to follow the trail west over the pass, and then south. This is the northern most portion of Hatch Point, part of the Canyon Rim Recreation Area in which the road has followed along its mighty walls. It is a fantastic location to stop and stretch the legs and get a snack. Views of the LaSalle Mountains to the east and the White Rim to the west. From here out, the road gets more late day sunshine than the portion you have come in on.
18: Tight Turn with Obstacles (7.6mi)
Follow the road down and through this tight drainage area. There are many of these drainage areas along the trail, but this was the most notable in terms of difficulty.
19: Camping Area (7.8mi)
Suitable for a small group. In the evening, watch the headlights of the vehicles along the White Rim Trail across the river and in the morning wake up to excellent views of Canyonlands Island in the Sky mesa.
20: Scenic and Terrain Change (9.3mi)
Stay on the trail and follow south. This is the most western extent of Hatch Point where the desert opens up into a wider expanse to the west and the south.
21: Large Camp Area (9.4mi)
Continue along the road. This camp area is large enough for a big group but would be terrible in rain with its evidence of sediment washing through the area.
22: S Turn Through Washy Area (10.0mi)
Follow the road primarily to the southeast and back into the canyon walls. This area gets a considerable amount sediment from rain drainage, tire tracks can easily be washed over.
23: Scenic (10.7mi)
Scenery looking east back into Hatch Point with its fortress type walls and Lockhart Canyon to the far south.
25: Bear Left Main Road / Right for Camp (14.1mi)
Bear left/southeast to follow the road, or bear right/west for camping location.
26: Large Camp (14.3mi)
Suitable for big group, excellent views. Return back out to the main road to continue the offroad trip.
27: Camper Wreckage and Water Tank Debris (14.6mi)
Evidence of a camping trip gone bad. As of the mid-2000s, the camper was fairly intact and painted camouflage, we do not know the story behind it, as you can see now, it has been shot up and deteriorated. Leave it as you find it. Just up the trail, a short distance is an odd looking water tank. At one time, this water tank used to sit on the bench above. Follow the road easterly as you leave the wreckage behind.
28: Turn South and Option (15.3mi)
The road splits here for a short distance. The higher road is a harder option with a ledge obstacle, where the lower road takes you directly to the steps obstacle.
29: Steps Obstacle (15.4mi)
Follow up the obstacle. This obstacle, like most in the desert, changes on a regular basis. After navigating the obstacle, follow a more defined road just past the obstacle around a hillside.
30: Scenic and Begin Shelf Road (17.6mi)
From this point, the road goes downhill and around an outcropping containing two very minor arches. As you go up and around the corner, be mindful there is a blind curve.
31: Blind Shelf Road (17.8mi)
If you travel this road in the opposite direction as to how this guide is written (from south to north) this is a blind corner shelf road with no passing. Views of Lockhart Canyon and benches to the west and southwest.
32: Camp and Scenic View (18.0mi)
Follow road as it wraps to the southeast. Views of Hatch Point, hoodoos, and spires which are common along the four-wheel drive route.
33: Camp Area (19.2mi)
Follow the road easterly with views to the south of the actual Lockhart Basin. Shortly after this point, the road will become narrow and start descending a ridge.
34: Narrow Ridge and Shelf Road (20.2mi)
Continue along the road and minor switchbacks. There are a couple of turnouts if needed. At the bottom, the road transitions into wider and more graded condition.
35: Lockhart Canyon Trailhead (22.8mi)
Follow the sign markers southwesterly to continue the trail, or turn right/north to experience the worthwhile side trip - Lockhart Canyon.
36: Gate (30.1mi)
Go straight through the gate. For reference, the Needles Overlook Trail is just above and to the east.
37: Terrain Change (33.5mi)
Follow the well-defined road. There are camping areas along this portion of the trail that are nestled within the sandstone. The road continues and you will pass through a few narrow portions of the road where you drive in-between rock outcroppings.
38: Across Wash Southeast (35.2mi)
Turn left/southeast across the wash onto the graded and wide road. You will travel for another mile before reaching a slew of designated camping locations.
39: Hamburger Rock Campground Area (37.0mi)
Follow the main road. This is the first and only vault toilet you will find along the entire route.
Camping and Lodging
There are plenty of free and dispersed camping locations along this route with the majority of the sites between waypoint 19 through waypoint 37. This is what makes Lockhart Basin an attractive portion of a larger overland route that you could plan. For those looking for more improved camping, the trail lets out at several BLM area locations, including the popular Hamburger Rock. If you plan to spend a night or two in the Canyonlands Needles District and are with a group, it is highly recommended to reserve the Split Top site. Reserve way in advance.
Minimum Impact Practices
Tread lightly when traveling and leave no trace of your camping. Drive and ride only on roads and trails where such travel is allowed; hike only on established trails, on rock, or in washes. Camp at designated sites or, where allowed, at previously used sites. Avoid placing tents on top of vegetation and use a camp stove instead of making a campfire. Unless signs indicate otherwise, leave gates open or closed as you find them.
Help keep Canyon Country clean. Pack out your trash and recycle it, clean up after less thoughtful visitors, and dispose of human waste properly.
Protect and conserve scarce desert water sources. Camp at least 300 feet from isolated water sources to allow for wildlife access. Where possible, carry your own drinking water. Leave potholes undisturbed and wash well away from pools and springs.
Allow space for wildlife. When encountering wildlife, maintain your distance and remain quiet. Teach children not to chase or pick up animals. Keep pets under control.
Leave historic sites, Native American rock art ruins and artifacts untouched for the future. Admire rock art from a distance and never touch it. Stay out of ruins, leave artifacts in place, and report violations.
Questions & AnswersNo questions have been submitted.
Offroaded on 11-27-2016
Low Temperature: 10° F
High Temperature: 37° F
The main challenge in Lockhart are in the first mile but don't think there's nothing fun afterwards. The obstacles just aren't as difficult. We had a less experienced wheeler in a stock Tacoma with us and while it was a bit of a challenge getting him though, but we did it, so with spotting, stacking, and decent driving, a stock rig can make it. Todd and I planned to camp in Lockhart and about a third of the way through, I found a decent turnoff out of the wind. We stopped just after 5, but we've become such a team that by 6:30 we'd set up camp, gotten the fire going, cooked and eaten dinner and cleaned up the dishes. By 7, the chill was coming over us and we pulled the old folks card and headed for bed.
We worked out way down the rest of the trail, stopping to check out a destroyed and abandoned camper trailer and look for plane wreckage from a t33 that crashed back on the 50s. Most of the challenge was gone by then, but the beauty was well worth the drive out there.