I’m the nut who thru-hiked the Hayduke Trail twice and then some*, two years in a row, once in each direction, solo. You can see some of my pictures here, my tips here, and my 2017 trail thanks here. Many of my photos were posted in-the-moment on Instagram (@puppyhikes).
Before I hiked it the first time, I made my own maps. After I hiked it the second time, I had quite a few corrections to my own maps, and tips to share for people wanting to hike it.
Whereas this is a difficult route as far as way-finding and sometimes terrain go, I think people can make it a whole lot more difficult for themselves if they are following the wrong track, obsessing over GPS rather than ground and terrain. I have done this, and imagine if one chose the wrong track over and over, they might decide the Hayduke is super tough. It’s not. There is trail nearly the entire way.
Yep. Trail nearly the entire way. When you are not walking roads or washes, you are either walking trail or desire path (wikipedia definition). If you keep your eyes peeled and think outside the box (try thinking like a cow), you will find these paths everywhere. They are often elegant and nearly always expeditious. This year when I hiked the Hayduke, I was six sections in before I found my first true “bushwhack.” (This is of course because selective amnesia allows me to forget Saddle Canyon.) Yes, the trail goes STRAIGHT UP and STRAIGHT DOWN sometimes, but it is still a cut path.
I think what thru-hikers are used to is buff trail such as what you find on the Pacific Crest Trail. When the trail gets difficult to see or follow, I think they decide it doesn’t exist.
Clicky-click the red button!
These are the most powerful (and accurate) Hayduke maps in existence, and they’re FREE. I made you a free Hayduke Trail map because I want to help folks stay on the trail and reduce erosion. I also hope to encourage you to get more into making your own maps, using Caltopo! It’s excellent hike prep, poring over topo. DORK ALERT!
What is great about having maps charted on Caltopo is it is very customizable and can be edited to suit your needs. In 2016 and 2017 used Caltopo to create custom PDFs for my hike and sent them to Kinkos for printing (tabloid size paper, 24lb weight was fine). Just use the Caltopo “Print” button to start setting up map pages. For the road walk sections, my maps were 1:40,000+ and for more technical sections I used ~1:20,000.
Hayduke Trail alternates have been moved to a separate map. This “other” version also has true mile markers, whereas the main version only lists mile markers that coincide with the book (in case you’re hiking by the book, these are helpful). Mile markers are pretty damn arbitrary on a lot of this route, because there will be a good amount of short-cutting and whatnot. At the end of a day on the Hayduke, you’ll never quite know how many miles you walked, even if outfitted with a pedometer. Advice: use mile markers as a general guide, but don’t get hung up on mileage. Get hung up on the scenery.
This Hayduke map has been a work in progress. I’m still working through data gathered over four months ON THE HAYDUKE. Please contact me with concerns or edits.
I strongly recommend you learn how to use Caltopo, as well as learning map and compass, and printing/carrying paper maps. It may look very complicated and overburdened with waypoints, but you can turn all that off by deselecting folders at the left of the screen. Here is an image of how “notes” are disabled for sections 1,2,3,4 but not 5:
There are folders for specific alts, for towns/resupply, for packrafting, etc. The waypoints are full of more tips, and include data like where you can get WATER and cell phone coverage, bathrooms, and trash disposal. Crucial!
Here is what the map looks when stripped down, with just the towns shown for spatial reference:
Most importantly, I tried to get the track on track. I corrected it in several places where the original Hayduke Book and/or Skurka’s fast-packed track were either off-target or didn’t provide enough detail. Unfortunately Skurka’s map is incorrect in many places (as far as it doesn’t match the Mitchell and Coronella route), including it diving into private property and skipping sections. This map also doesn’t include “shortcut-type” alternates that go through cryptobiotic soil fields (wikipedia definition). One major such offender is the “Slickrock alt” in Arches in section 1. When this GPX alternate starts to create braided trail through crypto in a NATIONAL PARK, I’m sure the Haydukers will start to earn a very bad name. Don’t do it, Courthouse Wash is beautiful and fun. If you cannot handle Courthouse Wash, I would say you’re not ready for the Hayduke.
And guys, non-scenic shortcuts are NOT alternates. They’re just shortcuts. Don’t publish them, we can figure them out all by ourselves.
The map doesn’t show obvious game trails (and sometimes heavy-use trails) shortcutting most snaking washes – those are for you to figure out. You’ll find them and figure them out quickly, especially when you’re thirsty and tired. Obviously, if the shortcuts haven’t been used in a long time and are crusted with bio, stick to the washes.
I never found the Hayduke to be as difficult as some people suggested. Once you give up on the idea of finding maintained trails with signage and cairns and blazes, you start looking for animal tracks and signs of humans who have come before you. You don’t mind following cattle paths; in fact, you realize cattle are brilliant trail builders.
The Hayduke has enough traffic that it is almost officially a trail, and no longer just a route. I hope that careful maps can help to keep people on the trail so that it becomes permanent. I debated whether to share this as a GPX/KML (Caltopo allows for export) or not. Poorly plotted (estimated) tracks can lead to severe erosion and braided trail. But I feel like my maps are now spot-on enough to share this way; they will lead people back onto track.
If you need help making customized maps based off my Caltopo map, please consult Google before writing to me. Unless you can compensate me for my time, I am largely unavailable for this type of help. If you do have re$ources and need mapsets — or heck, even a trail guide — I’m your woman. I don’t mean to sound rude, but the knowledge I possess about the Hayduke didn’t come easy and I really value my time. I spend it hiking.
View all my Hayduke Trail maps and recommended resources, including alternates like Salt Creek in Canyonlands into upper Dark Canyon, Halls Creek and Stevens Canyon in Capital Reef and Grand Staircase Escalante, and the Tonto to North Bass Trail in Grand Canyon.
* In Spring 2019, I hiked several portions of the Hayduke yet again, including the Dirty Devil, Coyote Gulch onto Fiftymile Mountain, and the AZT. My route was a patchwork quilt covering the entire Colorado Plateau, avoiding the Parks (except CANY and GCNP), and spending a lot of time on or near Lake Powell, and generally near the Colorado River.
* Caltopo doesn’t seem to play nice with the Chrome browser. I find it works great with Firefox.