Jolley Gulch is a small drainage located in the Upper East Canyon right off of the East Rim Trail. Most people see Jolley Gulch from the top as the East Rim Trail makes its way past the dramatic and deep head of the canyon, but for a short and fun day hike, you can also hike up Jolley Gulch from the bottom. While the scenery might not be as stunning as some of the other drainages in the area, Jolley Gulch makes for an easy and pleasant stroll through some off-the-beaten-track territory.
This hike may take 2-4 hours for a casual hiker. Park your car at the East Entrance Trailhead and begin hiking the easy and well-defined East Rim Trail. Roughly half a mile from the trailhead, the trail crosses a small wooden bridge over the Clear Creek drywash. Now it's time to leave the trail! Hike roughly northwest up and over the small slickrock hill, and down on the other side you will be in the drywash of Jolley Gulch. Make note of your entry point for the return hike. (When hiking the hill, please try to stick to the solid rock as much as possible to avoid trampling any cryptobiotic soil.)
The hiking in Jolley Gulch is fairly easy and family-friendly as the open wash is mostly free of any significant obstacles. Within another half a mile of hiking, the walls close in and the scenery gets a bit more interesting with great views of the White Cliffs formations above. Near the head of the canyon are a few fun little obstacles that you can scramble up before you are ultimately denied of any further access. (While near the head of the head of the canyon, you will be underneath the East Rim Trail. Although unlikely, be aware that if a thoughtless hiker above threw a rock into the canyon from above, it could pose a safety issue.) Once you have had your fill, retrace your steps and hike out.
Ever since I hiked the East Rim Trail and looked down the initial 200' drop at the head of Jolley Gulch, I have wanted to hike up this little canyon from the bottom just to see what was there. While Jolley Gulch is not an overly scenic destination hike by any means, it is still a fun little backcountry stroll if you have a few hours to kill.