As part of the #TravelingTalleys 2019 goal to hike 219 miles throughout the year we knew we needed to hit the ground running right away. One of the most remote and backcountry hikes we’ve done so far is the Honeymoon Trail, which we did back in January. This trail dates back to the late 19th century and started out as a primitive wagon road for Mormon travelers between northeastern Arizona and southern Utah.
Mormon settlements were created along the Little Colorado River in Arizona when church colonists were sent out by Mormon church leaders. Many established Mormon communities were already in southern Utah, and as the new settlement was just as remote and isolated they relied on the goods and services between the two locations. By 1877 Arizona settlers were traveling to St. George, Utah, for church business and to solemnize marriage vows in the newly-completed St. George Temple. Couples traveled from Arizona to Utah along this trail to get married at the church, and the trail soon became known as the “Honeymoon Trail”.
Today the trail is still visible but it has changed dramatically. Most of the land is now designated either public land with the US Federal Government or on Native American owned land. Once Pipe Springs National Monument and State Highway 389 opened in 1934 and 1967, respectively, the historic road was relocated or completely abandoned. The remaining trail is difficult to traverse and most is only passable with a 4WD vehicle or horses. Hiking is accessible sporadically along US Highway 89 near Lees Ferry.
Clinton and I pulled over near a break if the fence we had noticed in a previous drive around Vermillion Cliffs National Monument. As part of the Honeymoon Trail, this break allowed access to the exact rugged terrain and the difficult landscape that many of the Mormons traversed. The sights are spectacular and the views are amazing, but one of the most important thing we learned was that distances are deceiving! Our goal was to hike to where the bottom of the Vermillion Cliffs meet the land, but after a few hours hiking over one hill after the other only to discover another set of even larger hills we decided to find a good stopping point and turn around.
We did bring the dogs, a backpack full of water and snacks, and dog food. When we reached our official turn around point we stopped for a picture break and snack break and let the dogs explore. While the trail was obvious for the first mile it was not easy to find after that point. We relied mainly on specific rock formations between rest points to get back to the trail once it ended. It may seem that it would be simple to get back to the car, but we’ve learned that with such a vast amount of space and the extreme terrain that it is best to make sure that you pay attention to where you are and how to get back before you go too far down an unmarked trail!
As with each hike that we do, especially in remote areas, we made sure to tell someone where we were heading and when we expected to return. We’ve have loved the opportunities to explore and #TalleyYourMiles and thank you for following along! Until next time!