Photographs13 views of Little Death Hollow
MapTopoQuest topographic map of Little Death Hollow
At the trailhead, the land to the north and east appears quite flat and open, but the in other direction rise the high Circle Cliffs, formed of red Wingate sandstone. The normally dry Little Death Hollow wash emerges from a breach in the cliffs about one mile distant then winds through a wide valley filled with sage bushes and grass. A well-worn cattle path sets off from the trailhead and follows mostly along the north side of the wash, crossing the sandy streamway several times before rounding a corner opposite the junction with the south fork, beyond which the canyon ahead begins to narrow somewhat. A distinctive set of petroglyphs is visible on a boulder just to the right.
For the next hour the path runs along sand banks beside the wash, then begins to merge with the streambed as the walls gradually come closer together and the canyon starts to cut down into the Wingate layer. It passes a spring that provides a water source most of the year, and also a few very short narrow side canyons. The wash becomes more stony with variously sized boulders and also many pieces of petrified wood, washed down from the eroded strata of the Chinle formation upstream. For short sections the streambed covers all the canyon floor, but the proper narrows do not begin until about a 2.5 hour walk from the trailhead, a distance of 5 miles, but they are well worth the wait and eventually the canyon has lengthy passages only 2 feet wide, deep, quite dark in places but light enough in others to allow for good reflected light patterns.
The best section is after a sequence of four chokestones, and as with all such obstacles, the difficulty of these change depending on recent weather conditions - on this occasion, the canyon was completely dry and all could be easily bypassed by climbing over or under. There are several transverse faults that provide possible climb-out places - one is usually recommended to overcome the largest chokestone, towards the end of the narrowest section, which is 10 feet high and sometimes has a large pool beyond. At some times of year the canyon has long stretches of mud and extensive standing water - judging from tidemarks along the walls some pools may be over 6 feet deep and very long.
After two lesser blocking boulders Little Death Hollow becomes wider, still forming some narrow channels but with flat benches above. The streamway has much fallen rock and eroded strata as it approaches the junction with Horse Canyon, and trees, bushes and cacti grow over the crumbling canyon walls. The complete loop hike, continuing up Horse and Wolverine then along the road back to the trailhead is 16 miles which may be too much for one day, and even the hike through the narrows and back is about 12 miles, moderately strenuous and takes at least 6 hours.