ON ROCK! Maple Canyon: Foliage, fun
JACKSON HOLE, WYO – One of the most beautiful climbing areas I have been to in autumn is Maple Canyon, near Nephi, Utah. (Directions: Exit 225 off I-I5, east on UT Route 132 to Fountain Green, right on 400 South. Six miles to Freedom Road, turn right. Right again on Maple Canyon Road. Follow the paved road to the dirt.)
Otherwise known as “cobble climbing,” Maple Canyon is conglomerate rock with embedded, rounded “clasts” ranging in size from pebbles to boulders. The walls have a wide range of holds from bombers to slopers, making the climbing unique and challenging. Mostly sport climbing with very little trad routes, the routes are short due to the short canyon walls. There are a couple multi-pitch climbs, but are not traveled on much.
The best part of Maple is the foliage this time of year! Incredibly spectacular! Camping is available for $8 per night. Maple lies mostly on public land within the Uinta National Forest, but some of the most popular climbs are in privately owned Box Canyon. There also is a day use fee of $3 per car in the national forest area if not camping. Weekends are busy with mostly families camping.
My favorite area to climb is Maple Corridor, which has a bunch of short but good 5.8 to 5.11 sport routes. It makes a nice introduction to Maple Canyon. The Corridor is in a fairly tight side canyon, so it is shady and cool. Cross the bridge and look for a trail heading right into a side canyon. There is a cluster of routes on either side of the side canyon right at the entrance of the side canyon, and another cluster of routes a few hundred feet further up. However, this year a flash flood has carved a 6-foot-plus deep trench in front of the first three climbs on the left side and washed out a good section of the approach trail. Be careful approaching the climbs by hiking up through the trench. Also, one of the super cool things about Maple is the ice climbing option in the winter. Access is a little limited when snow blocks the road, but there are many ice formations that regularly form on the rock walls with bolts next to the ice. For gear: 50-meter rope, helmet/harness/shoes, small trad rack, 12 quickdraws, and the old trusty clip-stick. For beta: “Maple Canyon Guide” by Knezek and Knight. Rock On!