Needles – Confluence Trailhead and a missed trail in Canyonlands

At the end of the road in the Needles section of Canyonlands is the Big Spring Canyon Overlook, with the trailhead to the Confluence Overlook. That’s a 10 mile round-trip to the edge of a cliff 1000 ft above the point where the Green and Colorado Rivers join and begin their rush to Glen Canyon.

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Our son had recently hiked it, so we had to at least jump on the trail. But 6 hours on 1 hike, to see the drought-starved rivers join into a larger drought-diminished flow – wasn’t gonna happen. But the formations around the trailhead are fun.

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Back on the road towards Squaw Flat for a 2.5 mile loop a ranger recommended, near a campground.

A little confused since the park map was hard to follow, and the signs on the ground used different names. But we headed out and soon the trail turned VERY challenging, especially since I’m scared of heights. At this point, we had to hug the rock wall as we inched our feet along until we finally reached a more open, flatter, I’m-not-gonna-slip-and-die area. The whitish rock jutting out is what we hugged coming around from that corner, with our feet sidling along the gray surface below it:

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See, we’re up above the parking area:

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The trail smooths out as we continue along the slickrock:

Until we reach a trailsign that just doesn’t seem like it’s where we thought we’d be:

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Oh, crap, we were hiking between campgrounds, instead of taking the loop out and around. But it’s red rock country and the views are always worth it:

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Hey, it’s George Washington!

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George at the far right

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mushroom caps!

Hiking along a steep slope, but not too far from the ground.img_9079

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large cairn on the wall

Great, so we’ve reached Trailhead B, at Campground B, and all that scary inching along covered only 0.3 miles?

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So, we decided to hike along the road to get back to the car. Views weren’t bad, and we even stopped to eat our picnic lunch at a campsite table.

And we got a nice view of Wooden Shoe Arch:

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Back by the car, we climbed up the little mesa where they have campfires and ranger-led programs:

We should have started the hike along the back side of this spot, instead of across the road. We would have gotten closer to these views:

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this one’s called Molly’s Nipple

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The advantage of missing the trail we’d intended, and taking a much shorter route was that it gave us more time for a different hike. Back on the road to get there, enjoying the view along the way.

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