Round Trip Distance: 2 miles - 1st pool
Round Trip Distance: 4 miles - 1st waterfall
One-way Distance: 8 miles to upper trailhead
Difficulty: Easy - Strenuous
Elevation: 4992 - 6873 feet
Cellphone: 0-4 bars
Usage: Hiking - No Dogs
Time: 5 hrs. 15 mins. (one-way)
Facilities: Toilet at Devils Kitchen Picnic Area
Trailhead: Devils Kitchen
Fee: $5 individual - $10 vehicle - $25 annual pass
View No Thoroughfare Canyon in a larger map
No Thoroughfare Canyon offers about 4 distinct hikes that I know of. All of these hikes begin at the Devils Kitchen trailhead and extend up the canyon for different distances. The first easy hike is go as far as the 'First Pool'. That's a round trip distance of about 2 miles. The second easy hike would be to continue past the 'First Pool' for another mile to the 'First Waterfall'. A more moderate hike would be to continue yet another mile to the 'Second Waterfall'. And an objective of a more strenuous nature is to hike past the 'Second Waterfall', through the canyon, and up to CS Road on Glade Park.
The trail starts out by descending from the south end of the parking area into the mouth of No Thoroughfare Canyon. Before reaching the stream bed the trail for Echo Canyon and the Old Gordon trail branch off to the left. About a quarter mile from the trailhead the Devils Kitchen trail also branches off to the left.
The trail up the canyon follows along the seasonal stream bed. The trail varies from sandy soil to granite rock. When combined the sand can make the granite a bit slippery. It is very enjoyable following along the seasonal stream. This section of trail is an easy hike for youngsters who will probably enjoy it even more when there is a little water to play in.
After hiking about a mile the trail arrives at the 'First Pool'. This looked like a great place to stop for a rest. I'll have to keep it in mind for the next time my grandkids want to 'Take a hike'.
A sign at the 'First Pool' directed the way on up the canyon to the 'First Waterfall'. I've seen pictures of people climbing the ice at this location. It looks like it would be high enough to present a descent challenge. This is probably as far as the 'easy' trail goes. Right before the falls there is another sign that directs the hiker on up the canyon another mile to the 'Second Waterfall'. This sign warns that the trail from this point on is 'Primitive'. Once you get above the waterfall though the hiking isn't that much different than it has been up to that point.
From the 'First Waterfall' the trail skirts up the cliff on the right side of the waterfall. From down below the trail might look a little forbidding but other than the moderately steep angle the trail was pretty easy to handle. Once you get to the top of the falls head back into the stream bed. There were some tracks where someone tried climbing up the cliff at that point and others had apparently followed but they lead to nowhere and the down climb back to the trail is unpleasant.
At the 'Second Waterfall' the trail goes from primitive to non-existent. If you have your heart set on hiking the entire length of the canyon, another 5 miles, you will have your work cut out for you from here. The only way to hike past the 'Second Waterfall' is to climb the cliff, that ascends over 500 feet, to the right. One of the easiest points to tackle this obstacle is approximately where shown by the arrow. It is well before you get to the waterfall. I went a little closer to the waterfall and climbed up a notch. Once at the top I could look back and see the much easier and safer route that left the trail earlier.
This is where I climbed up. It was okay but there were several large granite outcrops that required some 3+ climbing maneuvers. I wouldn't be too crazy about climbing down this section. It's a lot steeper than it looks in the picture.
At the top of the Precambrian era granite things level off a bit but there still is no trail to follow. If you download my GPS track and use it you will want to know that I did a lot of unnecessary hiking. I climbed up some steep sections to investigate the cliffs and their surroundings. This region has had inhabitants that go back as much as 2,000 BC and not all that is interesting is marked on a map or pointed out with a sign. Since there was no trail to stay on, I didn't.
After progressing another mile or two up the canyon I came to an area of sagebrush. I found a trail to follow that was made by people hiking in from the upper trailhead. The trail seemed to go all the places that I wanted to go so I followed it. It wouldn't take too much to make this a suitable hiking trail.
There is a forest of oak about a half mile before the upper trailhead. The leaves totally obscured any tracks but I stayed to the left side for the most part and picked up the regular trail after a short distance. A chainsaw would do wonders through here but that would have to be up to the monument staff to make any improvements or alterations to the trail.
Speaking of obscured, the kiosk for the upper trailhead sits over the hill from the pullout that is along CS Road. There aren't any signs or anything else along the road to indicate that there is a trail here. If you want directions you can pull up my Google Map and click on the upper trailhead icon and choose 'Get Directions'. That will give you your own map and driving instructions to take you right there. The pullout is located between the 1 and 2 mile markers on CS Road.
I found a nice rock to sit on while I waited for surfer girl to come and give me a ride down to the Devils Kitchen trailhead. I had enough supplies to hike back down the canyon but with threatening clouds moving in and knowing that I didn't have a good trail for the most part I decided to call it good. My GPS was showing that I had covered 8 miles on the hike and that was with a lot of extra hiking. I wouldn't say that No Thoroughfare is a misnomer. After all you have to accomplish to make it from one end of the canyon to the other it's not exactly what most hikers are looking for. There is some nice hiking to enjoy up to the falls and the hiking in from the top isn't too bad for the more seasoned hiker. I was packing 240 ounces of water and Gatorade and I went through about half of it. To round trip it in the summer months I would probably have thrown in at least another 60 ounces. No Thoroughfare Canyon is yet another great place to 'Take a hike'.