Maple Canyon is a novel kind of Utah climbing. The canyon is a collection of massive towers made from conglomerate rock. The face itself takes some getting used to, searching three or four mounds before finding a suitable hand hold. The canyon itself is gorgeous and well worth taking a few moments at the top of a route to appreciate the view. If you’re going to travel out to Maple, bring a hammock and lunch and make a day of it!
The closest city to Maple is Ephraim, about twenty minutes to the South. Take exit 225 off of the I-15 and head east onto UT-132. You’ll follow it for 14 miles through some foot hills before turning on 400 W in Fountain Green then left onto West Side Road. You’ll stay on West Side Road for a few miles, passing a few farms, before turning right onto Freedom Rd for a quarter mile. You’ll take the first paved road on your right (FR0066). This in turn will wind back into the entrance of Maple canyon where you’ll leave the paved road. The dirt road winds through most of the canyon but the gate is closed during the winter into early spring. Maple is split between Uinta National Forest and Box Canyon which is privately owned. It costs three dollars per car to enter Uinta National Forest and eight dollars to camp. As for the privately owned section, they don’t charge anything but PLEASE be respectful. The family that owns the land has been incredibly generous in keeping the land open to the public.
The main path is nice and level. Side paths vary but are pretty well marked and taken care of which means most of the approaches are relatively light as far as scrambling is concerned. If the gate is closed you can still reach some of the climbs but be aware of the time it adds to the hike since the gate is near the canyon proper.
Trailhead: 3060 Piute Dr. Provo, Ut 84606 – (40.274920, -111.634332)
Wall Coordinates: (40.274873, -111.628143)
Approach Time: 30-40 minutes
Approach difficulty: Strenuous
Quality: 4 out of 5
Range: 5.4 – 5.13a
Number of Routes: 50+
Longest Pitch: 3
I had a geologist friend of mine describe conglomerate rock as the red-headed step child of sedimentary rock. Unlike sandstone, conglomerate rock is a collection of existing rocks (imagine a stream bed) cemented together. The rocks vary in size, from pebbles to small boulders, and because of this, you’ll find a lot of the harder routes are littered with slopers.
Most of the routes are sport, not trad (placing gear on this type of rock would be a nightmare). Bolt distances vary by wall but they’re all fairly close together which makes this canyon great for beginners to lead climbing and those looking for their next challenge. The route difficulties vary enough too that even in a large group you’ll easily be able to find a fit for every climber.
The walls all have pretty nice landings at their base which should make your belayer happy. That being said, it isn’t uncommon for some of those rocks to break loose from the sediment so don’t stand directly underneath the route!