Snake Gulch

Round Trip Distance: 7.4+ miles
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 5536 - 5773 feet
Cellphone: 0 bars
Time: 4 hrs.
Trailhead: Snake Gulch
Fee: none
Attractions: rock art, some ruins

Snake Gulch is located in the Kanab Creek Wilderness Area of the Kaibab National Forest south of Fredonia, Arizona. Numerous red, white and yellow pictographs decorate the cliffs on both sides of the long gulch. From end to end the Snake Gulch trail stretches out for 21.5 miles. This post only follows it from the east trailhead for 3.7 miles yet in that short distance it passes about 20 rock art sites and a few small ruins.

To get there from Fredonia drive south on Forest Service Road 22 for 23 miles. The pavement ends after 21 miles where it changes to a maintained gravel road. Turn right onto FSR 423 and continue for another 1.3 miles before turning right again onto FSR 642 where it is another 2.5 miles to the trailhead. For turn by turn directions you can also enter 'Snake Gulch Trailhead' into your driving app.

The trail starts out next to a deep wash for a few hundred yards before turning into Snake Gulch. A couple of red pictographs can be spotted high up on the cliff before making the turn. There are standing rock walls of an old homestead where the 2 canyons meet but due to the deep wash there isn't a good route to follow for a closer look. The trail through Snake Gulch is well worn and easy to hike.

Around the 2 mile point there are a couple of pictographs on the left. From there the trail crosses the wash and comes to a shallow alcove that show previous signs of occupation as well as scores of petroglyphs.

A few pictographs are also present.

We marked on our map over a dozen other sites that we noticed as we continued hiking. Most of them are comprised of at least 2 or more red pictographs like this one. We didn't mark every place we saw something on the map and didn't include photos of many of the very minor images.

As a guide you can pretty much assume that any side trail that heads toward the cliff also leads to more images.

Most of the red pictographs appear to belong to the Basketmaker culture. These black images are probably relatively more modern and of Paiute origin. These 2 are either fighting or playing 'patty cake'. At the panel with the little yellow (greenish) man there is a red pictograph of one person that looks like he is choking another person that he has down on the ground.

Eventually there are some images that include yellow paint and some of whatever color was used here.

Images like those on the left and right of the little man seem to be a common part of the style found in Snake Gulch. They look somewhat like necklaces or breast decorations.

The little man looks a bit greenish although it is probably considered yellow.

 This is the last panel that we came to before turning around and heading back.

The head looks a lot like the alien in the Men in Black movie that was controlling its robot host.

This is an extensive panel that is on the south side of Snake Gulch that we noticed after turning around and just beginning to head back. Quite a bit of white paint was used in making a lot of the images. This photo was taken from at least 100 feet away but if you click on it and zoom in you can still see some good detail.

We noticed at least 3 free standing walls that are all that are left of previous rooms. They are very easy to miss if you are concentrated on spotting rock drawings. One wall on the south side of the wash is a good 30-40 feet long.

About the only way we could have explored more of Snake Gulch would have been to turn it into a backpacking trip. In the short distance that we did hike we didn't come across any water sources. If you plan on backpacking you will have to carry the recommended 1 gallon per day and that will definitely make it quite a bit more difficult. We saw a lot in the short distance that we hiked but it's plain to tell that we missed a whole lot more by looking at the photos on the trailhead kiosk. We have also read that there are some ruins and granaries around the 5 mile point. However you plan your trip you should find it rewarding. If you would like to see Snake Gulch for yourself then all you have to do is 'Take a hike'.