General Overview of Trail
Utah, the Beehive State, is a land of stark contrasts, and those following the route of the American Discovery Trail will get to experience much of this variety. The eastern part is in red rock country on the Kokopelli Mountain Bike Trail, along the Colorado River, and through Canyonlands National Park. South of Canyonlands you ascend into the high forests of Manti-La Sal National Forest, a relief from the arid desert, before descending again to the Colorado River and crossing its only bridge in southern Utah at Hite. Next come the magnificent Henry Mountains with incredible views from the top over surrounding states followed by Capitol Reef National Park. Climbing a narrow canyon out of Capitol Reef the American Discovery Trail traverses the heavily forested high mountains of the Dixie and Fishlake National Forests. The far western part beyond Milford brings the American Discovery Trail traveler to very dry desert conditions that require careful planning for a safe journey.
PO Box 87
Teasdale UT 84773
Detailed Trail Description
The trail consists of six segments totaling 593 miles, and includes rural, remote, and rugged terrain.
The most up-to-date, detailed trail directions are published in the ADT Data Books.
Colorado State Line to Moab (Kokopelli’s Trail) – 113 miles
The American Discovery Trail enters Utah on Kokopelli’s Trail, which starts at Loma, Colorado, and winds for 146 miles through desert sandstone and shale canyons to Moab, Utah. The trail crosses open, uninhabited land and temperatures can exceed 110 degrees at times. The only potable water is at the Westwater Ranger Station and there is no water for the next 97 miles. Travelers will need to arrange for water drops along the trail. The Colorado River is only accessible at a few points due to steep cliffs and the water is so muddy that filtering is very difficult.
This is red rock country where many movies and TV commercials have been filmed. Arches National Park with more than 1,800 Entrada sandstone arches is a short side trip from Moab. Moab area “slickrock” sandstone formations attract mountain bikers from around the world.
Vehicle support in some areas may be mandatory. Exercise extreme caution. There are long distances between water and re-supply points.
Moab to Hite – 174 milesMOAB WEATHER
The ADT leaves Moab on the Kane Creek Road, crosses Hurrah Pass, and then goes south on Lockhart Basin Trail through a treeless sagebrush desert. The trail runs along the base of towering cliffs parallel to the Colorado River and then enters Canyonlands National Park on Utah 211. The Needles region is spectacular with rock spires, arches, canyons, grabens, and potholes. From Canyonlands, the ADT crosses Beef Basin, a relatively flat 6,000-foot high plateau and then climbs Elk Ridge to elevations over 8,600 ft in the beautiful Manti-LaSal National Forest. The route then descends through Canyon Rims Recreation Area to Hite Marina in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. There is very little water along this mostly arid 175-mile segment and water drops are required. Lingering snowpack may block the trail along Elk Ridge until June. Check with local officials for current conditions.
Hite to Boulder – 89 miles
From Hite, the ADT climbs over 6,000 feet along North Wash and Crescent Creek to cross the Henry Mountains at Bull Creek Pass (10,485 ft). Then the trail descends across Wild Cat Mesa and enters Capitol Reef National Park, where it passes through the Waterpocket Fold. Created 65 million years ago, the Fold is a 100-mile-long ridge of vaulted white rock domes. The ADT climbs into Dixie National Forest and follows Oak Creek to the Oak Creek Campground (8,860 ft) on Utah 12. The segment ends at the trailhead for the Great Western Trail (9,580 ft) near Roundup Flat on Boulder Mountain 14 miles north of the town of Boulder.
The Henry Mountains are an unusual and interesting formation,
Boulder to Circleville – 74 milesBOULDER WEATHER
This segment starts 14 miles north of Boulder and follows the Great Western Trail for 25 miles through Dixie National Forest at elevations above 9,000 feet. Then the trail crosses the high Aquarius Plateau before plunging down to the small ranching community of Antimony at 6,439 ft. From Antimony, the trail climbs back to 9,600 ft as it crosses the Sevier Plateau near Table Mountain. The trail then descends down Rocky Ford Trail into Circleville at 6,066 ft. Circleville is the birthplace of Robert Leroy Parker, otherwise known as Butch Cassidy.
Circleville to Beaver – 28 miles
The ADT leaves Circleville and follows Birch Creek up past the Circleville Campground and into Fishlake National Forest. It then climbs along the south slope of the 11,000-foot Circleville Mountain massif on the Old Government Trail. The trail crosses a saddle at 9,500 ft. before following South Creek down into Beaver (5,850 ft).
Beaver to Nevada State Line – 115 milesBEAVER WEATHER
From Beaver the ADT climbs over Soldier Pass in the Mineral Mountains before descending to Milford at 4,957 ft. Milford is the last chance for food and supplies until you reach Baker, Nevada, 97 miles away. The ADT crosses the barren and bone dry Wah Wah and Ferguson Deserts which have hot days, cold nights, and sporadic sandstorms. Prepare for large temperature swings. Water drops will be required for hikers.
- Kokopelli Mountain Bike Trail
- Great Western Trail
- Paiute ATV Trail
- Oak Creek Trail
- Lockhart Basin Trail
- Hurrah Pass Trail
- Dixie National Forest
- Fishlake National Forest
- Manti-LaSal National Forest
- Canyonlands National Park
- Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
- Capitol Reef National Park
- Bear’s Ears National Monument
- Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument
Points of Interest
- Colorado River
- Leprechaun Canyon
- Henry Mountains
- Escalante Desert
- Mineral Mountains
- Ferguson Desert
- Crystal Peak
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Adjoining Trail States: Nevada – Colorado