Pritchett Canyon is becoming more difficult every year, and is now to the point where the average, well equiped trail rig may have great difficulty in completing the trail. Vehicles with large amounts of lift will find the trail especially harrowing, as the many off camber spots will induce body roll and severly test a driver's nerve. Rollovers and broken parts are very common, and there are no easy bypasses. We have found that the majority of rigs will require a winch or strap on at least a couple of the obstacles.
If you can take your eyes off the obstacles long enough, you'll find a splendidly beautiful narrow canyon. The trail climbs the lower part of the canyon and exits via a side canyon over a divide into the Hunter Canyon system. Depending upon how long it has taken to get to this point, your leader then will chose among several routes to head back to the highway.
While in the canyon, the views are of the steep canyon walls, large side-canyon pour-offs, and a pool-speckled creek bottom. Pritchett Arch, Window Arch, and some smaller spans are visible from the trail.
The trail follows the bouldery creek bottom at first but then climbs onto ledge routes on a mixture of rock layers and dirt. The major obstacles are several forms of bedrock now exposed after erosion of the early roadway.
Obstacle 1: Just a few hundred yards into the trail there is a ledgy down hill that got so bad Grand County graded it with heavy equipment a few years ago. It is starting to deteriorate again, so care should be taken on the descent.
Obstacle 2: After passing a small mud hole caused by a seasonal spring the trail drops into the drainage. The "Brickyard" is the name of the climb back out. Several options are available, none of which are easy.
Obstacle 3: Chewy Hill is the next challenge. Once a graded dugway, it has eroded to become a major challenge. It is slippery and very off camber, with numerious medium to large ledges that must be driven up.
Obstacle 4: Approaching Rocker Knocker, there is a sizable slickrock area. There is an optional obstacle, to the right called "The Waterfall" that can be tricky if it is wet.
Obstacle 5: Next up is Rocker Knocker. This double ledge requires the perfect line, and a successful climb will usually push a rig to the brink of tipping over. It is next to impossible if wet. Broken parts and tip overs are common here.
Obstacle 6: Next up is an unnamed hill that resembles a 30 foot wide staircase. This series of large ledges claims numerous axle shafts and drive lines, and tip overs are possible. A bypass to the left can be easier, but a large rock that must be driven over can easily create some body damage.
Obstacle 7: Axle Hill waits just a few yards up the trail. This hill starts in the wash bottom and climbs out in two stages. The first part is very slippery, and is the site of many rollovers. The second part is very steep, as well as ledgy and off cambor.
Obstacle 8: The famous Rock Pile is next. It is an 8' ledge that at once had rocks stacked 2/3 of the way up. The rocks are all gone now, and the ledge regularly triumphs over some of the best rigs. A bypass we began calling Son of Rock Pile requires constant rock stacking, and even then may require a winch line.
Obstacle 9: the last obstacle is Yellow Hill, where the road reaches for the top on a very uneven and slippery ledge of multi-colored rock. Caution must be exercised here, as a single flop could easily turn into a multiple roll. Once the canyon top is reached, the leader has a few choices. The easiest is a moderate to easy, but very long, road back to US191.
Additional Notes: Pritchett Canyon was named a B.F. Goodrich Outstanding Trail in 2008, and is noted for its spectacular scenery as well as the hard core challenges. Due to its popularity and difficulty, the trail has seen more than its fair share of damage over the years. Many hours are spent performing maintenance every year, but the thoughtless actions of some users that create significant abuse adds to this maintenance burden. Help us keep this trail open by staying on the trail, and never create new bypasses or obstacles.