Why Novice Hikers Should Steer Clear Of This Ruggedly Beautiful US National Park Trail

Being too ambitious and taking on a hike that you are not prepared for is one of the biggest hiking mistakes you should avoid because it is not only dangerous but also makes for a scary and grueling experience. While doing research about your planned hike can help you avoid this problem, sometimes, even after researching and looking at the trail map it is still possible to confuse a difficult hike for an easy or moderate one. This is the case for the Maze Overlook Trail which is located in Canyonlands National Park in Utah. If you were to simply look at a map of the Maze Overlook Trail you would see an 8-mile in-and-out hike with a 965-foot elevation gain, which at first glance seems pretty doable.


However, the trail map doesn't tell the full story and the Maze Overlook hike is actually extremely difficult and not suitable for novice hikers. Many reviewers on AllTrails seem to agree that the hike shouldn't be taken lightly, with one warning that it "takes more time than you might think." Another reviewer also mentioned that they ended up turning around before the end because the hike was too difficult and "spicy." So, what is it that makes the seemingly straightforward Maze Overlook Trail so intense?

Get ready to scramble

The biggest reason that the Maze Overlook Trail is much more difficult than it seems is because it is located in Canyonlands, which is a bucket list-worthy national park that is full of countless bright orange canyons, mesas, and rock outcroppings that together create a maze-like and untamable landscape. The Maze Overlook Trail begins at Maze Overlook and then follows a twisting and winding path all the way down to the canyon floor. This trail is not what most people would consider "walkable" and is more of a lesson in rock climbing as it takes hikers down large boulders that have small hand and foot holds carved into them to help you scramble down.


Even so, many hikers don't make it to the bottom and turn around when they lose the path or find that it becomes too wiggy. Furthermore, as one Redditor explained, some areas of the trail are so difficult and tight that it becomes necessary to use a rope to lower your backpack down to the next ledge first to give yourself more mobility and space when climbing down. In fact, the National Park Service recommends bringing a 25-foot rope on the hike just for that reason. Because of all this, the Maze Overlook Trail has been labeled as strenuous and it is best reserved for hikers who have experience with basic scrambling and rock climbing.