We loved hiking the Syncline trail in the Canyonlands and thought it would rise to level of favorite hike in the park, but after hiking the Murphy Trail we concluded that this is the quintessential Canyonlands hike.
The Murphy trail is a loop trail (with an option to do an out-and-back, which we did) with a similar profile as the Syncline trail. About 9-10 miles, and 1200 feet (or more) in elevation gain; all on the back-end as you are descending from the canyon rim down towards the White Rim Road above the Green River.
This is such a good Canyonlands hike because you are staring into the landscapes that define the park throughout the entire journey. On the descent you see the broken mesas, spires, the white rim sub-canyon over the Green River. The trip down was pretty easy, with a small amount of scrambling but mostly well carved steps for easy foot placement. There’s a cool wooden platform bridge as you traverse by one the canyon walls adorned with graffiti from 90 years ago and 90 days ago.
We hung out for a while down off the White Rim Road at the halfway point, boiling some water for noodle cups and staying to chat with a couple traversing the rim in a Jeep and a single man doing the same with a motorcycle. He had a grim tale to share with us: just the day before he drove down the Schafer road from the Island in the Sky visitor center to try to resuscitate a man who fell (far) off a viewpoint cliff. He tried CPR but knew when he got there that the man was already gone.
Apparently his journey around the rim was tough going. He had a heavier motorcycle capable of off-road travel, but he was lamenting how heavy and hard to maneuver it was. He tipped over a few times come up steep rocky slopes. This is high clearance 4x4 territory for sure.
That was it for the Canyonlands for us. Next we are off to Green River for a mid-journey hotel stay to clean up and do some laundry. We will find some rock art along the way.