Left Hand Colet – Closed?

While planning our 2009 spring trip adventure I planned on taking Left Hand Colet from Hole-in-the-rock Road to Smoky Mountain Road. When we stopped for a snack in Boulder, Utah, the owner told me that Left Hand Colet was closed due to a wash out from 2 years ago. Bummer, I thought, it’s time to change our plans.

On the day were where to drive Left Hand Colet we stopped to look at the dinosaur tracks then decided to go as far as we could on Left Hand Colet.

When we hit the first wash crossing I could tell that a loader had been through before us.  This was a good sign. I hoped this indicated the trail had been repaired all the way to the top. Many times we were driving in the wash and could see that it would not be the place to be during a rain storm.

In the Canyon Floor

As we continued up the track the repairs became rougher and the wash outs larger.  However, things did look promising with the loader tracks continuing and the trail repairs in place. I Figured some rancher had fixed the road up to the first major side canyon so he could move his cattle easier.

Up one of the filled in ledges

When we got to the point where the trail heads south from the main canyon the loader tracks continued on. Great this looks really promising. There were a number of ledges that he had filled in but the trail was looking really good.

The Trail heads up the side canyon

The road finally exited the wash and headed up the side of the mesa. Cool we are going to make it I was thinking… Then we came around a corner and the road narrowed ahead next to a cliff as it headed back into the wash for the last climb.

Up another ledge

The loader had reconstructed the road in this narrow section and I was concerned that it was not going to be wide enough for us or that the shoulder of the road was going to be too soft.  I walked past this section to look at the last climb.

Nancy inspects the rebuilt road

Damn it was going to be hard. First we had to get through this narrow section and then follow the loaders path up to the mouth of the wash. There were a number of large ledges that he had filled in and the dirt was dry and loose.  There was a winding route up but it looked like the FJ might have problems with the trailer in tow…

Inspecting the last section

The first step was to get through the narrow section. I fired up the FJ and LJ guided me through watching the outside edge as I stayed as close the cliff as I could. At the narrowest point she indicated that we had about 10” of road left.

Starting up the last section

 Now it was time for the next for the last steep section. I walked it a second time picking the route for the FJ.

Continuing through the rebuilt section

Back in the FJ engaged the rear locker and started up the hill. The first ledge presented no problem. I lined the FJ up for the next ledge and started up. The left front then lost traction and all 4 started to spin. I quickly dug into the loose dirt and could not climb any further. I backed up a few feet and gave it another try.

Point that we had to winch

One of the problems with pulling an off-road trailer is that it makes backing very hard. Sometimes the trailer must even be disconnected. In this case I was able to back down about 8 feet before attempting the obstacle again. I did not want to push things hard for fear of breaking something while out by ourselves.

When the next to attempt failed I figured it was time to get the winch into the action.

For this trip I had added the Pull Pal to our quiver of recovery tools. I’m glad I did. Even with my winch line extension I would not have been able to find a solid anchor.

I unloaded the pull pal. Got the winch ready and put it to work.

The winch was the assist I needed. We had no problems clearing this section. I unhooked the winch rope and hand coiled it on the bumper just in case we needed any more for this sections and finished the drive to the top.

On to the top

With no additional problems we arrived at Colet Top.

Topping out the the Loader Behind us

This is why we have all the recovery gear for most types of self recovery situations. It gives us more security when we head into unknown situations on our solo adventures.

Maybe not today!



Tomas has lived in Colorado since age 5. Having grown up on the Western Slope of Colorado lots of time was spent in the Desert Southwest. Tomas' father introduced him to the love of 4 wheeling at an early age in the high mountains around Aspen, Colorado. While an avid Mountain Biker, Tomas and his Family enjoy adventures in the mountains and desert in the remote locations that can only be reached by 4wd. Day hikes are always a must when on the family trips. While enjoying outdoor activities he wants to share his love as a certified 4wd trainer and ski instructor. Tomas also enjoys caving and cave exploration. Tomas currently resides in Colorado Springs. 


  4 comments for “Left Hand Colet – Closed?

  1. Mitch
    May 3, 2009 at 7:58 PM

    Just ran through Left Hand Collett Canyon with a stock Jeep Rubicon on 04/29/09, it passable with a high clearance 4×4 and lockers. I’m impressed you did it with a trailer!

    • May 5, 2009 at 1:15 PM

      We looked at Left Hand Colet as an adventure with the trailer. The Military M416s trailer great on rough roads.

  2. Doug
    July 5, 2009 at 3:30 PM

    I just came down the Left Hand Colett on July 3 – without a high clearance vehicle (Isuzu Rodeo). I don’t recommend that since we scraped bottom a couple of times. I could never had made it up.
    Our adventure began when I used Google Maps on my Blackberry to plot a trip from Page AZ to Escalante UT. I never knew it was a dirt trail until we got off “road”. Since my car is 4WD, I thought it would be an adventure on a typical unpaved road. I was wrong. Going down the Left Hand Colett was really scary in a Rodeo! Since I was tied to the route by my Blackberry (I had no maps), I had little choice but to take that way down.
    Here’s the worst part: After making it down safely, we proceeded on past the turnoff to the Dino tracks only to be stopped dead in our tracks by a complete washout of the road. Apparently, there was a flash flood earlier on July 3rd. I don’t have a photo to show you, but the gap in the road is over 30 feet across and about 6 feet deep. I don’t think you could cover that with any 4WD, certainly not a Rodeo! Anyway, my car sits up there waiting for the county to repair the road. Hopefully that will be soon, since I have to get back to work!

    • July 6, 2009 at 11:39 AM

      This is a problem that more and more people are encountering when using GPS and other mapping systems in the southwest. Many of the road the softweare indicates are actually high clearance 4 wheel drive roads. If I am headed into an unknown area I always check what the mapping software indicates against current hard copy maps.

      I do hope they get the repair to the road made soon so you can get your vehicle out and I am glad that the outcome was positive descending Lefthand Colet.

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