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MOAB — Utah has a variety of beautiful mountain ranges and hills that make for a great pastime. If you are in the Moab area, the Mary Jane Slot Canyon offers a great hike you can try.
Mary Jane Canyon has a small stream that joins the Colorado River 20 miles northeast of Moab. The creek flows year-round and is shallow for most of its length.
At the trailhead, you'll see a sign for "Professor Creek/Sylvester Trail," but do not follow that trail if you want to hike in Mary Jane Slot Canyon. Professor Creek is a nice trail, but it follows the rim for about four miles one way and does not lead to the slot canyon.
Instead, look for the "no camping" sign in the parking area. Go down to the dry steam bed right by this sign and follow it right back up to the other side. On the other side of the creek bed, you'll see the creek and you will follow it during your entire hike through the slot canyon.
After about .5 miles, you'll see a fork in the creek. Take the left side where the water is flowing from. After about 30 minutes from the trailhead, the canyon walls will start to get higher. Roughly one mile of the central section of the canyon becomes fairly narrow and the walls reach up to 100 feet. The walls have interesting rock textures and colors, different from most slot canyons where the rock faces are darker, harder and less striated.
Continue following the creek until you reach the end of the canyon which features a double-tongued waterfall halted by a chokestone, about 30 feet high. It will take you about 2.5 hours to reach the waterfall at the end of the hike.
The hike upstream is an easy walk and very pleasant during the hot summer months. Along the edges of the creek, the abundant green vegetation makes a nice contrast to the red canyon walls.
Also, remember to check the weather before you go on the hike because slot canyons are prone to flash flooding.
Distance: Nine miles roundtrip
Elevation gain: 400 feet
Trail tips: Wear shoes you can walk in for nine miles in and out of the water. Bring plenty of water and wear sunscreen. Dogs are allowed on the trail, but bring your own bags to pick up dog waste.
Directions: To get to Mary Jane Slot Canyon, take Moab’s Main Street north to state Route 128 and then drive northeast until you reach mile post 18. At mile post 18, turn right onto a dirt road. On that road, you'll see a sign that reads "Ranch Road — Dead End." Follow this for about 1.5 miles and at the first fork in the road, turn right. You'll drive past a small dam on the right hand side. Keep driving for another .25 miles and the road will end. This is were you can park to start hiking.
Alicia is a graduate of Montana State University, loves to cross country ski, camp, and hit the trails all year long with her hiking companion, Charlie, a Golden Lab. Alicia organizes outdoor events in "Hiking in Utah - with our Dogs!" Alicia is also active in the dancing scene, having taught Latin Ballroom dancing for three years in Montana; she now performs throughout the year with her Utah dance team, Callejeros. On weekends you can find her exploring all that Utah has to offer. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.