Eardley Pools

Round Trip Distance: 4.7 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 4406 - 4671 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 4 hrs.
Trailhead: Eardley Pools
Fee: none
Attractions: Scenic wash/canyon, rock art

The Eardly Pools hike is located in the San Rafael Swell between Green River and Hanksville, Utah. The trail follows Straight Wash for 2.9 miles to the mouth of Eardley Canyon where there is the first of two pools of water. A second pool can be reached by scrambling over and around the large boulders that clog the canyon. While the pools are popular with some people as swimming holes during the hot summer months the canyon itself is frequented by others that like hiking up along side of the canyon and repelling down its various spillovers.

To get to the trailhead turn off of Highway 24 across from mile marker 147 and follow the 4wd road for 3.6 miles. High clearance is required at a couple of washes along the way and to climb over a very rough rocky outcrop. We have seen short wheelbase vehicles with medium clearance like Subarus at the trailhead.

From the parking area the trail drops into Straight Wash and heads into the swell.

About a quarter mile from the trailhead watch for a well worn trail that leaves the wash on the right and leads through a tangle of trees and brush to a couple of petroglyph panels.

The largest panel of petroglyphs has an image of a snake that looks to be a good 10 feet long as well as a lot of other interesting figures. There is another lone image on the face of the cliff to the left of a large alcove that is nearby. With a pair of binoculars or a telephoto lens you can also make out what's left of some pictographs up in the alcove.

From there the route continues by following the wash. The easiest hiking is normally up on the bank on either side of the wash rather than right down in the wash itself.

At the 1.5 mile point from the trailhead there is a shortcut trail that branches off on the left that climbs over a ridge and then reenters the wash. We recommend staying in the main wash which after a short distance enters a deep canyon where it travels around a scenic bend. The shortcut is about a quarter mile long while the big bend in the canyon is just under 1 mile in length.

Besides the extra distance to get around the bend the price that you pay for taking the scenic route is the need to scramble over a multitude of rocks as you pick your way through the boulders that litter the canyon.

The wash continues to be very rocky as the two routes rejoin each other and continue on up Straight Wash.

After another half mile Eardley Canyon comes up on the right. The canyon is hard to miss as it is the widest gap in the cliffs and has a large pool of water at its mouth. We hear that people swim in the pool during the summer so it apparently doesn't completely dry up.

There is an easy route around the left side of the first pool that is followed by a couple hundred feet of scrambling to get to the second pool. The second pool is much more scenic as it sits in a slickrock bowl right below a short spillover. When we were there in early spring the murky water looked more like a guaranteed place to get impetigo or typhoid than an inviting place to take a dip.

On the return trip it can be arbitrary on just where to leave the wash to take the shortcut but just pick a good enough looking spot that leads to the obvious trail that crosses the ridge.

Whenever we hike through any wash or canyon we always keep an eye out for the high water level from flashfloods. In this photo you can see that the high water mark is above the tents in the background. We were always taught growing up that it is never smart to camp in a wash. What sent these campers packing wasn't the rain though. The mouth of any canyon is like a wind tunnel and it blew hard enough that night to flatten their tents with them inside.

The hike up Straight Wash to Eardley Canyon has a lot to offer in the way of scenery and exploration. Eardley Pools makes a nice destination and the shortcut on the return trip adds some welcomed moderation to the hike. For those that only want to see the rock art the total round trip distance will come out to less than a mile and you will still get to enjoy the scenic mouth of the canyon. The only real deterrent is the access road that will keep some people from driving all the way to the trailhead. If you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.