No, not the Pacific Crest Trail….the Politically Correct Trail. The same friends who recommended Corona Arch (to which we hiked in the morning) recommended Negro Bill Canyon hike. There was a lot of praise for this hike on the intertubes so I wanted to check it out. After lunch everyone, including the dog, seemed sort of lethargic but I convinced the boys to come check out the trail with me. The girls wanted to but Brielle’s ankle was hurting and she really wanted a Jr. Ranger badge from Utah.
Every description of the trail described the well marked trailhead just 3 miles up the canyon from Moab. And indeed there was a trailhead parking lot at exactly the 3 mile mark. However, the sign read Grandstaff Trailhead. We pulled back out on the road and went a little further up the road but only found Porcupine Hill so went back to Grandstaff. We asked a hiker on their way back to their car if they knew where Negro Bill Canyon was and he said, “you’re here!” and then added his own editorial on how the name had been changed to be more politically correct. Turns out that Bill’s last name was Grandstaff (or the accepted, local mispelling, Granstaff). So at least the dude still get’s historical credit for this canyon but there is a part of me that feels like the name change took away something from African Americans as a whole. The original name immediately told you the story of a black man who was an important part of Moab’s history without ever reading the actual fine print history. I find it refreshing to know that Bill, a black man, came to the desert southwest of his country to be a cowboy and prospector…obviously a successful and/or well loved one to have a canyon named after him. The name Grandstaff sounds more like some famous white cavalry commander who wiped out a village of natives so Moab could have full rights to the natural spring water in the canyon to water the golf course. Maybe I’m not PC, but I prefer the original name . And I am proud to be a citizen of a country settled by men (and women) like William Grandstaff.
Well, Steph and Brielle dropped us boys off at the trailhead so they could go back to Arches for Brielle to earn her Jr. Ranger badge. We started up the canyon and Sheba, who had seemed pretty tired earlier, was super excited and leading the way. About 1/4 of a mile up Caden’s stomach called him back to the trailhead to the toilets. So we backtracked, emptied the boy and retraced our steps back up the canyon despite him still not feeling 100%. It was mid afternoon and so the high canyon walls were giving us about 50% shade on the trail. That along with the trees made for a really enjoyable hiking temperature.
The trail follows a stream and Sheba was very interested in the water but we couldn’t convince her to go in until we came to a wide spot in the water that had a little island we could jump out to. Sheba, the faithful dog she is, followed us and got her feet wet in the process. With the initial shock over she ventured out into the water up to about her belly then came running back. And then you could tell she was having a ball…darting in and back out of the water, splashing, and jumping!!! It was pretty fun to watch.
The trail was really fun as it crosses the stream multiple times and, if you make it to the end, treats you to a really nice natural bridge. It’s a little over 4 miles round trip so we estimated we could do it in 2 hours and agreed to meet the girls back in the parking lot at 4:30. With our little back and forth to the toilet and letting the dog play in the water we didn’t make it all the way to the end. But the 4 of us had so much fun on the part we did see we were very content. Plus, I REALLY want Steph and Brielle to do the hike with us. So next time we’ll all do it together and make it to the natural bridge! Mr. William (Negro Bill) Grandstaff is definitely being honored by this amazing canyon and trail and I am glad that it is now part of the Wach’s history.
When we got back to the trailhead the girls had just pulled in. On the ride back to the rig we shared our adventures with each other and lamented about having to head back home the next day. Please take a moment and enjoy a few of the pictures Dacen and I captured along the trail.
Here they come
There they go
Capturing the scene
Ahhh, shady trail
Green sun relief
Selfie from under water
Island in the stream
Papa on a rock