Butler Canyon

Rating: 
Round Trip Distance: 4 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation: 4081 - 4312 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 3 hrs.
Trailhead: Three Forks
Fee: none
Attractions: Scenic canyon




Butler Canyon is located in the North Wash area between Hanksville and Hite, Utah. The trail begins off of Highway 95 at spot that is called Three Forks where Butler Canyon and Stair Canyon come together in North Wash. This post follows Butler Canyon to where it splits and continues on the east fork to the 2 mile point from the trailhead before turning around and returning by the same route.


Getting to the trailhead is a simple matter of following Highway 95 for 31 miles from Hanksville, Utah.


What serves as a trailhead is a large parking area across the Highway from mile marker 31. There are a couple of primitive tent sites here as well as room to park several RVs.


From the parking area the route drops down a short hill and turns up Butler Canyon which is the first canyon on the left.


At first the best route is to just follow the wash.


Hiking is easy where the wash is mostly smooth and dry with few obstacles to deal with. To imagine what a bad idea it would be to be hiking in the canyon during a heavy thunderstorm take a look at the high water mark denoted by the debri wrapped around the base of the cottonwoods in this photo. That level is about 10 feet higher than the bottom of the wash. We've had to take shelter in canyons during thunderstorms where there were countless waterfalls spilling over the rims and culminating into a raging flash flood. One canyon like this can drain a massive amount of terrain and concentrate all the rain into the confines of the wash that runs through it.


While most of the canyons along North Wash are mostly dry, on the surface anyway, Butler Canyon like Hog Canyon has many more wet areas to hike around. This would probably be a pretty enjoyable hike for a dog to come along on.


In places the water is deep enough to necessitate leaving the wash to find a dryer route.


Further into the canyon there is a spillover that to get past requires a bit of scrambling over a ledge on its right side. People have been stacking rocks in front of the ledge to make it easier.


Near the 1.5 mile point there is a fork in the canyon. To the left is what is marked on some maps as West Fork Butler Canyon. For this post we went to the right and followed the east fork.


After another half mile the canyon gets congested enough that it seems like as good a place as any to turn around and head back.


Hiking gets a little rougher the further you go up Butler Canyon but the first mile or so is relatively easy and scenic enough to have an enjoyable time. We were camped next to the highway at Three Forks. There isn't enough traffic on Highway 95 at night to be noticeable and when a vehicle does pass by it can only be heard for a few hundred feet before its noise is muted by the canyons walls. At the end of April though the frogs were mating and creating a tremendous symphony that lasted from sunset to nearly dawn. We still slept well but when we did wake during the night the back and forth croaking was something to marvel at. As far as Butler Canyon goes, if you would like to see it for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.