Moses and Zeus

Rating: 
Round Trip Distance: 1.6 miles
Difficulty: Strenuous
Elevation: 4207 - 4697 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 1 hr. 30 mins.
Trailhead: Alcove Spring
Fee: $30/vehicle-$15/person
Attractions: Scenic geology, backpacking
 



The Moses and Zeus trail is located in the Island in the Sky District of Canyonlands National Park. The trail begins near the end of the Alcove Spring trail where it climbs a butte to the base of Zeus and begins a loop that takes it around Moses and Zeus to a saddle in the ridge at the base of another spire known as Aphrodite and back along the opposite side of the butte to where it began.


There are 2 different ways to access the trailhead. One can be made via the White Rim and Taylor Canyon Roads. From the end of the Taylor Canyon road it is only a tenth of a mile to the start of the trail. The other way is by hiking down the Alcove Spring trail from the Island in the Sky which is almost 6 miles one-way. The bottom sign in this photo has the name of the trail simply as the Moses Trail although all our maps and common knowledge call it the Moses and Zeus trail. Perhaps the longer name was more than what would fit nicely on the board. The top sign shows a distance of 5.5 miles which is shorter than our GPS came up with as well as other information that we had available.


The trail leading to the butte is a little faint but still easy enough to follow. The best views of the rock formations are probably from below the butte while hiking up the washes on either side.


As the trail begins its assault on the lower part of the butte it is aided by a series of well placed steps.


The climbing eases as the trail traverses around the point of the ridge offering ever changing views of its namesakes.


Moses and Zeus, towering above the valley like statutes, appear to be having a conversation from this prospective. Whoever named the spires must have had an interesting perspective of their own in mind with the mix of names they chose and the individual spires they picked to represent them.


The trail works its way up from one bench to the next making use of carefully placed steps in a few spots and over one rock pile that requires the use of hands to scramble up. Near the top the trail comes to a narrow knife edge hogback that requires crossing. There isn't any really dangerous exposure on either side but since skinned knees aren't much fun it does add a little more adventure to the trail.


As the trail reaches the base of Zeus it splits and begins a loop. On this trip we went to the left but as it turns out going to the right would have been preferable. Before walking over rocks and boulders it is a good idea to test how solid they are before putting your entire weight on them.


The trail along the left side of the ridge works its way along the base of the spires. The slope of the butte is a bit dramatic in a few places where the trail is also narrow and has a small amount of scree. The other side of the butte is completely different. Over there the trail goes over a rock fall that is made up of everything else that used to be part of the fin that runs the length of the ridge.


The trail crosses the ridge at a saddle that is between Aphrodite and Moses. For this trip we turned around at this point and headed back the same way that we came.


From the advantage point of the butte the views up and down Taylor Canyon are pretty incredible and worth pausing for a few extra minutes to enjoy.


On the return trip we took an alternate route that traveled along some overhangs on the south side of the butte before rejoining the regular trail. Hikers should be aware that parts of this trail are very primitive and resemble a climbers trail more than a hiking trail. We ended up turning around at a spot that one of us was unsure of and felt wasn't worth the risk. That spot probably wouldn't have been as much of a problem had we been going in the opposite direction. All in all the Moses and Zeus trail is spectacular and well worth the effort that it takes to get there. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.