Hike The Syncline Trail in Canyonlands NP

Utah Upheaval Dome Trailhead

Added by Andrew Slaton

This is an unmaintained, difficult trail that gives hikers a unique perspective of and challenging hike around Upheaval Dome.

Be advised, the NPS signs and maps that warn of a very difficult hike ahead are not hyperbole, as I thought at first. This hike is a loop around the famous Upheaval Dome on an unmaintained trail that leads you down over 1500 feet into the canyon, close to the Green River, then climbs back up 1500 feet and out. 

We did it in Summer, not knowing anything about it, and I would recommend going in a different time of year, or at least bringing a gallon of water per person. 

The trail conditions range from easily identifiable single track and well-built (though steep) stone staircases to completely unmaintained routes through desert washes and canyons marked only by cairns, and even sections that require some scrambling/ bouldering. This trail is not for the casual hiker.

When at the trailhead for Upheaval Dome overlook, you have the option to go left or right on the Syncline. I recommend going left, as the descent here is very steep, and the ascent at the end is a bit more gradual. However, both ways are challenging. Give yourself at least 4-5 hours to complete.

A good map and navigation skills are very important!

The views are amazing, and the adventure is worth it though, if you are properly prepared and in good shape!

If you're planning to stay overnight in the Synchline Campground, make sure to get a backcountry permit. Check here for more info: https://www.nps.gov/cany/plany...

Pack List

  • 1 Gallon of Water per person
  • Good Map (not the standard NPS issue park map)
  • Camera!
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Backpacking, Camping, Fitness, Hiking, Photography, Running

Skill Level:



Spring, Autumn, Winter

Trail Type:



8.3 Miles

Elev. Gain:

1507 Feet



Easy Parking

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How to Get There

3 months ago

Great Tough Hike

This hike is great. Water and sunscreen are essential because there is no cover for most of the trail. Because of the length and difficulty the trail was empty. Great workout, lovely cliff faces, and plenty of wilderness!

3 months ago

Added by Andrew Slaton

Andrew is a commercial landscape and active lifestyle photographer living on the road full-time with his yogi wife, Ellen, dog, Islay Blue, and stud cat, Colonel Bubba. Based wherever the wind takes them, and teaching workshops along the way. www.slatonworkshops.com

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