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COCKEYE FALLS to CRAWFORD WASH (and Lost Peak)

Route Description Photos 1 2 3 4 5

Cockeye FallsOverview:
Located on the south side of Route 9 just .4 miles east of the second (shorter) tunnel, locally-named "Cockeye Falls" is one of the more noticeable landmarks in Zion's East Canyon. Cockeye Falls has significant flow only during spring runoff or rainstorms, but there is usually a small trickle of flowing water that gives it its distinctive black paint strokes flowing down the curved sandstone. A hike up the Cockeye Falls drainage makes for an interesting adventure through a beautiful wash that gives access to the Parunuweap side of the White Cliffs and also Crawford Wash, one of the larger south-facing washes of the area.

WARNINGS:

Detailed Description:
Cockeye FallsThere are several small roadside parking spots in the area, including one directly across from Cockeye Falls. Roughly 200 yards left (north) of the falls, look for an obvious trail-of-use from the road down into Clear Creek, then find a reasonable line and scramble up the slickrock on the other side. (While Cockeye Falls is too steep to hike up, the slickrock just north of the falls has a more moderate angle.) Once above Cockeye Falls, start hiking due south up into the wash which has a wonderful forested section near the watercourse.

As the drainage becomes a bit overgrown and turns east, climb out of the right (west) side and hike up the slickrock. Look for an orange bump highpoint of the slickrock you are hiking up and head for that. (None of the slickrock here should be too difficult or treacherous, but there are a few steep sections that feel awkwardly angled against you.) Once you make it to the highpoint (which I affectionately call "french pastry" because of its layered dessert-like resemblance), enjoy the view looking back down-canyon. The hiking is much easier now as you continue up a more moderate slickrock line that takes you in between the peaks in the distance. ("The Triplets" are to the left/east and "Lost Peak" is to the right/west.) Soon enough, you will reach the sandy saddle looking south at the expansive territory facing Parunuweap Canyon. There are so many possibilities for random exploration here, but for this write-up, we're going to head down Crawford Wash…

From the sandy saddle, head south through the pleasant sage and manzanita-covered terrain until you hit the East Fork of Crawford Wash. Crawford Wash is a scenic and pleasant open wash and makes for a fun and remote hike. Follow the watercourse as it makes its way down to the west, alternating between sections of sand and sections of slickrock. Hiking here is relatively easy although there are a few minor downclimbs. At the confluence with Crawford Wash proper, there is a 40-ft dryfall that can be bypassed by hiking around to the south.

Crawford Wash viewpointOnce in Crawford Wash proper, the going is extremely pleasant and easy in the wide, sandy wash. Soon enough you will reach the mouth of Crawford Wash where the wash turns to a more narrow sandstone channel that leads down to a windowed view of Parunuweap Canyon far below. This is a pretty magical spot, but be extremely careful as this area is often a wind tunnel with sandstone sloping into several large potholes. This would be a horribly remote spot to slip and require rescue. When you have had your fill, retrace your steps. On your way back, it is worthwhile to explore the North Fork of Crawford Wash a bit, but due to the Natural Research Area, you must exit via the East Fork.

Side Trip to Crawford Overlook:
Several years back when I was taking in the view from the top of Hidden Dragon, I took note of the ridgeline that paralleled Crawford Wash as a fun possibility for a remote hike and once I finally tried it, I was not disappointed. The scramble and hike to "Crawford Overlook" (my unofficial name) makes for a fun adventure but is not recommended for casual tourists with no scrambling experience. Navigation aids are extremely useful here as it is quite easy to get disoriented in a sea of similar-looking slickrock.

While in the middle of the East Fork of Crawford Wash, look for a large slickrock chute heading up the south side right above the spot where the wash makes a sharp snake's turn. (See photo.) Hike/scramble up the chute; the angle is fairly steep but not treacherous. Along the way, there is a bowl obstacle that can be circumvented by scrambling up the left side and walking around the rim. Crawford Overlook Continue hiking up until you reach a highpoint where you have a clear view of the south. Take note of the ridgeline heading south to Parunuweap Canyon; the goal here is to hike the ridge without wasting too much energy summiting every single bump along the way.

Start hiking south keeping the first minor peak to your right. Circle around the southwest side of the minor peak and find a line that avoids summiting the peak without wandering down too much into the little wash to the southeast. (Some exploration may be required to navigate around some slickrock obstacles, but there should be no major exposure or climbing involved.) With the minor peak behind you, following the ridgeline should be much easier as you head due south. After scrambling over a few minor hills, soon enough you should be standing at the end of the ridgeline with great views looking into Parunuweap Canyon. Retrace your steps.

Side Trip to Lost Peak:
Lost Peak (Peak 6460, unofficially named by CP) is the fairly small but impressive peak just west of the head of the Cockeye Falls drainage. Scrambling to the top is a fun diversion that involves some exposed class 2-3 scrambling on steep slickrock and is not recommended for casual tourists. Lost Peak The easiest starting point for the scramble is the southeast corner of Lost Peak where a small nub sticks out at the base. This spot is marked by a few trees and offers the friendliest low-angle start.

Hike/scramble up the slickrock, sticking to the sweet-spot of the shoulder and making note of your line for your descent. A few short slabs may be intimidatingly steep, but things relent soon enough. About halfway up, the rock turns dirty so be careful with your footing as you follow the contours of the peak around and over obstacles to get to the summit. Soon enough, you will be walking along the spine of the summit with great views in all directions. Return the way you came and be prepared to do the sit-and-squat technique when descending the steepest sections.

Note: It is also possible to scramble up the north face of Lost Peak, but 2/3rds of the way up, there is an exposed Class 4 crux move, so I advocate the southeast face if you're looking for the easiest option.

Alternate "Slickrock Pass" Route:
Cockeye FallsAs an alternate start or ending to the Cockeye Falls hike, the "slickrock pass" route is a fairly straightforward means of traversing between Route 9 and the Parunuweap side. If hiking up from Route 9, parking just west of the little tunnel is a convenient starting point. Hike down the little side wash, then at the confluence with Clear Creek, turn left (east) and hike up Clear Creek for a bit until you come to the slickrock ramp on your right. Hiking up this long, steep slickrock ramp is strenuous, but there are no major obstacles or treacherous spots. Once you have surmounted the slickrock uphill, you reach a sandy section of vegetation as you make your way around the west side of Lost Peak to join up with the Cockeye Falls/Crawford Wash route. Cockeye Falls is arguably the easier and more scenic route, but the "slickrock pass" route offers good views of the East Temple and the greater East Canyon pantheon.

Cockeye Falls to Crawford Wash Map Cockeye Falls to Crawford Wash Map:
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Joe's Spin:
While the elements of this hike might be a bit much for the casual tourist, Cockeye Falls to Crawford Wash offers up some stunning East Canyon slickrock scenery. And similar to the Checkerboard Mesa Canyon and Separation Canyon hikes, wandering over to the Parunuweap side of the White Cliffs always gives a great sense of serene isolation in the backcountry.

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