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!
Read More

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

Share

Activities:

Backpacking, Camping, Fitness, Hiking, Photography, Running

Skill Level:

Advanced

Season:

Spring, Autumn, Winter

Trail Type:

Loop

Distance:

8.3 Miles

Elev. Gain:

1507 Feet

Rating:

Features:

Easy Parking
Scenic

Are we missing something?

Suggest an edit

How to Get There

7 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!

7 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

More Adventures Nearby

Camp on Smithsonian Butte Road

Utah / Smithsonian Butte Road

Smithsonian Butte Road (and Smithsonian Butte & Wire Mesa) is an excellent place to camp & boondock near Zion National Park, particularly if you do not have a 4WD vehicle and/or there has just been s.

Josiah Roe
10 Saves

Backcountry Ski USA Bowl

Utah / Old Stage Road Trail

To get the the trailhead, drive up Big Cottonwood Canyon until you reach the upper entrance into Solitude Ski Resort. You can park on the road just below the entrance to the resort.

Jackson Smith
3 Saves

Backcountry Ski Butler Fork

Utah / Butler Fork Trailhead

The trail head for Butler Fork is 8 miles up Big Cottonwood Canyon on the left side of the road. Throw your gear on and head up the trail.

Jackson Smith
10 Saves