Photo: Russ Nordstrand

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Boulder Mail Trail

Highlights

  • Voted the Guides Choice Trip in Southern Utah
  • Hike a historic mail and supplies route between 2 Canyon Country wilderness towns
  • Experience a breathtaking part of the vast high desert of Southern Utah
  • Hike through 3 distinct canyons, each with a unique feel and character
  • See natural bridges, oases, cascades and endless views over slickrock
  • On the 5-day and 6-day itineraries, traverse the stunning Escalante River
  • Sleep under one of the clearest night skies you've ever seen


Description

The Boulder Mail Trail offers the opportunity to traverse Utah’s finest canyon country. This wilderness route is a rewarding adventure across a sea of slickrock formations, high plateau Ponderosa Forests and deep shady canyons with spring-fed creeks!

The Grand Staircase - Escalante National Monument is one of the most beautiful regions in Utah with it’s unique, undulating terrain and brilliant sandstone features. The route takes us across a stunning plateau that was historically used to transport mail and supplies between the towns of Boulder and Escalante. It crosses three major canyon systems and many smaller tributaries that feed into Death Hollow and eventually into the Escalante River.

Each canyon along the Boulder Mail trail has a unique and interesting character. Sand Creek is a high elevation drainage that seems lost in time with the massive feature of Slickrock Saddle rising high above in the distance. Death Hollow is a deep, wet canyon full of water and a lush riparian environment. Mamie Creek is a large drainage of Navajo Sandstone featuring one of the most interesting Natural Bridges in the state of Utah as well as deep water pockets and excellent swimming holes!


 

Photos of this Trip

Photos: Russ Nordstrand

Trip Itinerary

Day 1

Shuttle from St. George: 4 hours
Hiking Mileage: 5.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 300 feet


We will depart Saint George, Utah early this morning for the remote town of Escalante which is truly the heart of Utah’s Canyon Country. After reaching Escalante we will shuttle up to the Boulder-Mail Trailhead and have lunch while preparing for our cross country hike. The overland route from Boulder to Escalante features a sea of endless slick rock sandstone, deep twisting side canyons, spring-fed creeks, and towering Ponderosa Pines typical of Utah’s high canyons. Our hike today is 5.4 miles to a primitive camp overlooking Death Hollow – easily one of the most impressive canyons in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. The camp features a beautiful sandstone amphitheater and large natural water pockets teeming with Utah’s unique aquatic life forms such as Fairy Shrimp. Huge panoramic views a hearty dinner and endless desert star gazing are the order of the evening!


Day 2


Hiking Mileage: 6 miles
Elevation Gain/Loss: 1400 feet


Today we will wake up with the rising sun, pack our gear and prepare for the descent into Death Hollow. Death Hollow is large, deep and full of water – it gets its name from mules falling into the canyon as they attempted the mail route from Boulder to Escalante. As we descend deeper into Death Hollow we’ll be trekking through ankle-deep water. This canyon is filled with huge Ponderosa Pines and natural springs pouring out of the ancient Navajo Sandstone walls. Our destination this evening is Mamie Creek – a large tributary of Death Hollow which we will reach later in the evening to setup camp against a massive rock wall overlooking the canyon.


Day 3


Hiking Mileage: 6.5 miles
Elevation Gain/Loss: 400 feet


This morning we'll leave our camp setup while we explore downstream to see one of the most unique and interesting features in the region - the Mamie Creek Natural Bridge. The bridge is situated above a massive valley where Mamie Creek pours into Death Hollow. Today is all about exploration - and because we’ll be hiking most of our miles today with light day packs, today is also all about fun! After exploring the bridge we’ll head back upstream to our campsite, where we'll pack up and continue on just a couple of miles down trail to Antone Flat.


Day 4


Hiking Mileage: 6 miles
Elevation Gain: 1400 feet
Elevation Loss: 2000 feet
Shuttle to St. George: 4 hours


Today we will pack up early for the 7.5 mile trek across Antone Flats – which features a kaleidoscope of intricate Navajo slickrock formations, canyons and high altitude Ponderosa forests. The hike ends with a massive view into the Escalante River Valley and a steep descent off of the high plateau we’ve been traversing – the old mail route from Boulder to Escalante that bypasses the nearly impassable Escalante River Canyon! We rendezvous with our shuttle pickup around 2:00pm and then depart for St. George, which we should reach between 6pm and 7pm in the evening!


5- and 6-day Variations


The 5- and 6-day variations of this trip allow us to finish with a 14-mile traverse of the Escalante River, which runs through a breathtaking, signature Utah canyon. On the 5-day itinerary we skip our layover on Day 3 and instead continue on so we can spend two full days along the Escalante River. On the 6-day itinerary we'll still enjoy our day hike and exploration of Mamie Creek on Day 3 and add two extra days for the Escalante River. Regardless of which itinerary you join, this extension is well worth the extra day or two and caps off this trip fantastically!

Please not the public agencies that oversee this region require that everyone hiking in the Escalante River corridor pack out all solid waste, including human waste. We provide resources and training on how to accomplish this. If you'd rather embark on a trip in this region where that isn't required, we recommending participating in the 4-day version of this trip.


Please Note: We always do everything in our power to follow the set itinerary, however it can change occasionally based on temporary park restrictions, campsite availability, weather, road closures, guest ability/injury, and natural events like fires and flooding.

Trip Details

What's Included

  • Top-of-the-line tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, and technical backpack
  • Use of trekking poles
  • All meals are included from breakfast the first day through lunch on the last day
  • A professional, knowledgeable, certified Utah hiking guide
  • Roundtrip transportation from your hotel in St. George, Utah to the trailhead and back
  • National park entrance fees
  • Emergency equipment including a company-issued first-aid kit and satellite phone
  • You will receive a Lifetime Hiking Membership entitling you, your spouse and kids to a lifetime discount of 10% off any Wildland Trekking hiking trip after your first one!

What's Not Included

  • Clothes, raingear, and footwear
  • Sunscreen, toiletries and personal items
  • Water bottles and a headlamp or flashlight
  • Guide gratuity (industry recommendation is 10-20% of trip cost)
See the Packing Lists page for more information.


Meals: What To Expect

All of our hiking and backpacking tours include a diversity of tasty meals packed full of critical carbohydrates, proteins and fats. We carry foods that travel well in the backcountry – rice, pastas, lentils, beans, couscous, packaged meats, nuts, breads, oatmeal, granola, and more.

For optimal taste and energy, we supplement all our meals with spices, herbs, oils, cheeses, butter, sugar, and fruits and vegetables (fresh and dried). In addition, we provide you with with an assortment of trail mix, snacks, and dried fruits to eat at your own discretion.

We regularly accommodate vegan, vegetarian, kosher and non-gluten diets and will make adjustments for food allergies. These and other special dietary requests may require an additional fee.


Gear We Provide

We provide all group gear which includes the following:
  • Deuter or Osprey backpacks
  • Sierra Designs, Kelty or Big Agnes tents
  • Sierra Designs, Kelty, Big Agnes and Mountain Hardware sleeping bags
  • Thermarest or Big Agnes sleeping pads
  • Leki or Black Diamond trekking poles
  • Cooking stoves and cookware
  • Company-issued first-aid kit
  • Satellite phone


What Gear To Bring

We ask that you supply a couple of gear items on your hiking tour. These items are two 1-liter water bottles per person and either a headlamp or flashlight per person. Basic items like sunscreen, bug repellent (where and when applicable), lip balm, and toiletries are also important. All of these items are available online at Wildland Trekking Outfitters.


What Clothes to Bring

Please refer to the trip packet for a recommended clothing list (we email you a detailed trip packet when you inquire and when you register). All trips require a sturdy pair of hiking shoes or hiking boots (reliable brands include Montrail, Lowa, Merrell, Vasque, and Salomon), rain gear, and non-cotton and cotton clothing layers. A minimum of three pairs of wool or synthetic hiking socks are also required, and we recommend Neoprene socks and water shoes for this trip. All of these items are available online at Wildland Trekking Outfitters.

NOTE: See the Packing Lists page for more detailed information on what clothes and gear to bring on your hiking tour. The trip packet you receive when you contact us will have the most accurate clothing and gear list for the tour you're interested in.

Trip Logistics

How do I Register?

Ready to hike? Simply click here and complete the form to get the ball rolling. Our adventure consultants will confirm availability, and if you're ready to register we'll email you a link to a registration profile. You'll have 48 hours to complete your profile (and that of any dependents) and pay the deposit ($500).

Feel free to call us for more info - we're here 7 days a week!


Where Do We Meet?

You will rendezvous with the guide and group in St. George, Utah for an orientation meeting at 5:00 PM the evening before the trip begins. Your guide will be in contact approximately 2 weeks before your trip starts to specify the orientation location, and we are more than happy to pick you up if the meeting if you are staying at one of our recommended hotels but the orientation is taking place elsewhere. The guide will then pick you up at your hotel the next morning for transport to the trailhead. For Private Utah Tours your guide can meet you at your hotel in St. George or Cedar City, Utah at an agreed upon time.

Check out our Travel Resources page for information on flights, shuttles, lodging and more.


Start/End Times

Your guide will inform you of the first day's pick-up time at the orientation meeting. Generally, you can expect it to be between 5 and 8 am, although the exact time will depend on current weather and road conditions. We will drop you off at your hotel on the final day no later than 7 PM.


Safety Considerations

Your safety is our top priority. Our hiking tours are led by professional hiking guides, all of whom are wilderness-certified first responders or EMT's, each with years of guiding and wilderness experience. We've developed comprehensive risk management protocols that our guides adhere to in case of an emergency, and most tours carry a satellite phone. If you have any further questions about safety, please contact us at 1-800-715-HIKE (4453) for more information.


Guides

Your tour will be led by a trained, experienced professional with a solid guiding background, years of personal wilderness and hiking experience, medical certifications, and a passion for leading people into breathtaking landscapes. Check out our Meet Our Team page for staff bios.


Group Size and Age Restrictions

The standard group size on backpacking trips is 5 guests and 1 guide, with a maximum of 10 guests and 2 guides. If you have more questions about group size, please give us a call at 800-715-HIKE (4453) and we'll answer all your questions.

Age restrictions are as follows:
  • 12 and older to join scheduled tours (mixed groups)
  • 10 and older to join private tours, with final approval on a case by case basis
  • specific logistical requirements (such as porter or stock assist) determined on a case by case basis


Weather in the Southern Utah

Weather in Southern Utah
Southern Utah is a high desert. The weather is very moderate: occasional dustings of snow in the winter that melt rapidly, and summer temperatures in the low 90s (°F) that often cool down with thunderstorms. To be fully prepared, please follow the recommended clothing list closely (this list comes as part of your trip packet when you register). The ideal time to be in the Canyon Country is Spring and Fall. Read below for average high and low temperatures in Utah's Canyon Country:

Average Temperatures (Fahrenheit)
 
 
Month
High
Low
 
Dec-Feb
43°
18°
 
March
55°
27°
 
April
64°
33°
 
May
73°
40°
 
Jun-Aug
88°
55°
 
September
79°
45°
 
October
67°
35°
 
November
53°
25°