Canyoneering Route Description

Leprechaun Canyon Middle Fork - 3A II or III
North Wash, Utah.

Quick Facts

04-30-10, 3 people, 1 Day (Travel time in route 8 hours) both Left and Middle Forks in one trip. Pictures Icon
05-22-10, 3 people, 1 Day (Travel time in route 5.5 hours) Middle fork only via the west spur of the middle fork. Pictures Icon
05-29-10, 2 people, 1 Day (Time Unknown) - Did all seven Irish Canyons in a day with this being one of them.
04-10-11, 2 people, 1 Day (Travel time in route 5 hours).
04-06-13, 2 people, 1 Day (Time Unknown) - Did all seven Irish Canyons in a day with this being one of them.
03-28-15, 2 people, 1 Day (Travel time in route 7 hours).  I was running high fever and moving slow.
03-26-16, 5 people, 1 Day (Time Unknown) - Did all seven Irish Canyons in a day with this being one of them.

Time Required - 4 to 6 hours
Distance - 2.9 miles Total, 1 miles Technical
Rappels - 3 Rappels, Longest Rappel 30 feet.
Elevation Range - 4470 - 5000 Feet
Shuttle Required - No Vehicle - Passenger  Permit Required - No

Gear Used for Canyon

Rappelling and anchor gear, Ropes and or pull cords for rappels up to 30 feet and 40 feet of 1 inch webbing for sling placement.

Warning:
Gear choices for skinny slots are different than wider canyons.  Think small, minimal and maybe even disposable where clothing is concerned.

General Comments

Warning:
Before going into this canyon, please take a moment to look at the warning page for skinny canyons.  

Leprechaun Canyon has 3 forks and is sometimes referred to as Mile 28.1 Canyon.  The Middle Fork of Leprechaun Canyon is the narrowest of the 3 forks and is sometimes called Shimrock.  It is not a joke or meant to be cute when referring to this canyon as a skinny slot.  With that said if you do decide to venture in, it is an incredible place!

Note:
This route description is for approaching from the bottom of the canyon up.  If you approach this canyon from the top by parking on the roads to the north, you may find one additional rap of 25 feet if you drop into the drainage for the alternate start described below.

It is suggested that you take your harness off after getting to the bottom of rap 2 and again take it off after getting to the bottom of rap 3.  The skinny sections of the canyon will eat away at your harness which is more expensive than a sacrificial pair of short you can put on over your pants to help protect them.

If you would like to see some good stuff but do not want to do anything technical, the lower portion of the canyon can be accessed by hiking up canyon as far as you can from the trailhead.  The canyon will eventually get too tight for the casual hiker but there are some amazing things to see before you get turned back.  

Note:
While in the Middle Fork of Leprechaun, the Left Fork of Leprechaun and in Shenanigans (May 2010) there were a lot of names carved in the rock.  I know a lot of names in some areas have been there for a long time.  Other names though were very new.  We found one labeled as 2010.  It is sad that people do this and ruin the beauty for others that follow after.  A lot of this is definitely not the work of casual hikers as some of these names (including the one dated 2010) are well into the canyon after a rappel or two.  If you have the urge to scratch something in the rock, please resist the urge and keep things looking nice for others.

Driving Directions

To get to the Trailhead

From the junction of highways 276 and 95, travel south west on 95 two miles to a dirt road on the left (north east).  Turn left onto this dirt road (extLeprechaun) and park at a wide spot on the left about 300 feet from the highway (tLeprechaun).

To leave the Exit Vehicle / Escape Pod

No exit vehicle is needed.  This is done as a loop route.

Maps - - - - GPS coordinate information listed at the bottom of this route description.

For information about my waypoint naming convention and map symbols, refer to the Glossary page.

Map Link Icon
Click the links for maps of the route.
Map of the entire route.
Map zoomed in a little for the technical section.

Details

The Approach:
From the trailhead (tLeprechaun), walk north east up the wash.  An old dirt road follows part way up into the wash before fading away.  The canyon starts out wide with lots of brush and other plants along the way.  There are a few trails worn in and all go to the same place so follow whatever route looks good as long as you are staying in the wash and heading up canyon.  

0.5 miles up canyon from the trailhead is another drainage joining in from the left (west).  The gently sloped sandstone nose on the up canyon side of this drainage is the route you will take to start the climb up out of the wash.  The slope is so gentle in comparison to everything around which makes the route up so obvious you almost don’t need to give directions to it.  

From the start of the sandstone nose (wLepRP-01) walk up the slope staying slightly right of the crest.  About 500 feet up the slope is an out cropping of rocks.  Follow around the right side of the largest part of it to find a small sandy level bowl.  Cross over the bowl and start up more steep slick rock along the ridge.  

About 500 feet up the slick rock after the bowl is a small peak.  As the route to the peak begins to get too steep follow around the left (west) side of the peak then back onto the ridge top at a small slick rock saddle (wLepRP-02).  

When at the saddle take time to look north east over the Leprechaun Canyons.  You can clearly see the Left and Middle Forks.  The Right fork can be seen if you look close further up the Middle Fork from where the Left Fork obviously joins.  Further right is another drainage that has a vertical drop as it joins Leprechaun Canyon, this clearly visible drainage is not the Right Fork.  

About 300 feet from the saddle with the view is another sandstone peak along the ridge.  Travel over the peak and continue along slick rock to the top of the next sandstone peak about another 300 feet along the ridge (wLepRP-03).  

After another 300 or 400 feet a faint traveled path emerges in some dirt along the right (east) side of the ridge.  The path follows around the right (east) side of the crest of the ridge for about 200 feet then turns left (wLepRP-04) toward the top of the ridge to the west.  

The path crosses over the crest of the ridge which is now covered in dirt rather than sandstone.  The path then turns right (north) and follows dirt trail around the west side of the ridge.  After traveling along the left (west) side of the ridge for about 350 feet, the trail fades away to nothing (wLepRP-05).  

Where the trail fades away to nothing (wLepRP-05) climb up a bunch of broken slabs of sandstone to the right (east) then continue north up a steep sandstone slope.  At the top of the steep slope (wLepRP-06), which is about 150 feet from where the trail faded, you will be greeted with wide open flat desert dirt and views that go way off in the distance.  

Once at the top of the sandstone slope and at the start of the flat desert (wLepRP-06), walk north and look for a trail.  Follow the trail north about 0.3 miles along side of and up to the head of the West Fork of Leprechaun.  The head of the West Fork of Leprechaun (yLep-LtFkTp) has a cul-de-sac shape with a drop of about 15 or 20 feet down some slick rock.  If dropping down the Left fork you would climb down into the canyon from here.  

From the head of the West Fork (yLep-LtFkTp), travel up the wash about 200 feet and climb up a short dirt bank crossing the wash (wLepRP-07).  From the top of the short dirt bank climb turn right (east) and climb up out of the wash and up onto another section of open desert.  

Continue due east about 0.2 miles until you reach the rim of the Middle Fork of Leprechaun.  This is the rim of the left spur at the top of the Middle Fork.  Turn left (north up canyon) and walk a short distance along the rim to find what would be an easy down climb down into the west spur at the top of the Middle Fork (wLepRP-08), which may have a cairn marking the top of the down climb.   

Scramble down into the rim from (wLepRP-08) about 20 feet down will be a ledge.  Walk down canyon about 50 feet along the ledge to find an easy down climb to a sandy spot on the canyon floor.  Then walk about 100 feet to the top of a narrow slot (yLep-MdFkTp), which is the top entry for the west fork of the middle fork.

The Canyon / Technical Section:
From the top of the narrow slot (yLep-MdFkTp) down climb about 8 feet into the slot and follow it about 50 feet down canyon from the head of the slot to find rap 1 for the west fork of the middle fork.

Rap 1 of the west fork of the Middle Fork (dLepMidFkR1-2a) is anchored from a dead man in a pot hole at the top of the rap.  If the anchor is not there, farm a few rocks from up out of the slot to build a dead man anchor in the pothole.  Rap 1 drops about 20 feet and could be down climbed all but the last 6 or 8 feet.

Rap 2 is about 20 feet down canyon of rap 1 and is anchored from a choke stone wedged between the walls a few feet off the bottom.  Rap 2 drops about 30 feet and is an awkward start since the anchor is at your feet.  You will need to slide and stem down over then below the choke stone before the rope can support you.

Follow the tight twisting slot about 200 feet to where another slot joins in from the left (wLepRP-11).  This is where the optional start for the Middle Fork of Leprechaun meets this route.

Note:
There is an alternate way to start the Middle Fork of Leprechaun.  If you wish to use the alternate route, do not downclimb the 8 foot drop into the slot at the head of the canyon.  Instead from the head of the canyon walk about 250 feet east over to the top of another tight slot.

Rap 1 (dLepMidFkR1b) is at the top of a narrow slot.  The head of the slot has a drop of 10 or 15 feet.  An easy way down into the slot is down a slope RDC.  Rap 1 is anchored from a pinch point between a couple boulders fallen in the wash near the top of the rap.  Rap 1 starts down a narrow slot quickly going vertical into close winding twisting walls.  The total drop is about 30 feet.  It is recommended taking your harness off after rap 1 so the skinny sections do not chew it up.

Down canyon of this rap the canyon begins to give you a small taste of the narrow fun ahead.  About 160 feet down canyon is another slot joining in from the right (west).  This is where this alternate start meets the main route (wLepRP-11). 

Down canyon there will be sections that you may need to squeeze through (depending on body size and bone structure).  If you have any doubts now, you can use this wide open section to look for a climb up and out of the canyon.  The best route out would likely be up the gentle slope RDC working northwest back up to the approach trail above.

Continuing down canyon things get a bit tighter.  Along the way there are tight sections of the canyon forcing you to walk sideways and even squeeze between the walls in a few places.  There are also a few down climbs but all are easy since they are along the narrow sections where stemming down the walls is easy.  Squeezing through the narrow stuff and sliding along the walls to get down the down climbs in this section start to alert you to the damage this type of canyon can do to your clothing.  

Rap 3 (dLepMidFkR3) is about 0.4 miles down canyon of the junction with the left fork.  Rap 3 drops about 30 feet does not have a traditional anchor.  One person provides a meat anchor for everyone else.  The last person down can wrap the rope around a rock fin right at the top of the rap.  It is preferred for a person below to anchor into one end of the rope as the last person down rappels on the other end of the rope after it is wrapped around the fin.  If doing the canyon solo it is possible to just rap off the fin double stranded but will require a lot of care to keep the rope from slipping off as you start the rappel.  To get the rope back just flick it a few times until it falls off the fin.  It is recommended taking your harness off after rap 3 so the skinny sections do not chew it up.  It is possible for one person to use the horn anchor and rap off both strands if doing the canyon solo.  Use caution doing this.  The down canyon side of the horn is rounded and can cause the rope to roll up over the horn if moved wrong.  If you are there with others be safe and use someone at the bottom as a counterweight.

Below rap 3 is where things get real skinny.  There are spots where a typical climbing helmet won’t even fit through.  You will need to duck or raise up to find a spot to get your helmet or chest or other large body part through.  Squeezing through here will begin to shred the clothing you have on, the back pack you are dragging through and even your harness if you were foolish enough to keep it on after rappelling.  

The junction where the West Fork joins the Middle Fork (jLepLftMid) is about 500 or 600 feet down canyon of rap 3.  The canyon opens up briefly here where the two forks meet.  

Continuing down canyon of the junction with the West Fork starts another set of narrows.  One section of the narrow section is slanted to the left.  The slant makes travel a bit difficult since it is too narrow to travel facing forward and the slant makes it impossible to stand up.  You find yourself bouncing along the wall with your body as you try to keep your feet moving.  Making things more cumbersome is the bottom not being wide enough to get your feet to the floor so you need to jamb your foot between the walls to stand.  To top it all off you are man handling your pack along with you since it is too narrow to be wearing it.

A few hundred feet down the narrows is a section with a lot of fallen boulder choke stones, which I have been told change a lot over time.  Find your way under, over or through the boulders any way you can.  The narrow section containing the fallen boulders and the tight sections around it are commonly referred to as Belfast Boulevard.  

On the other side of the boulder choke stones a narrow section little light entering from the top.  Climb down a 10 foot or so narrow section just before reaching the junction with the Right Fork of Leprechaun (jLepRgtMid).

The junction with the Right Fork of Leprechaun Canyon (jLepRgtMid) is about 400 feet down canyon after the junction with the Left Fork. 

Continuing down canyon from the junction with the Right Fork is a large room like narrow section.  The walls bell out in the middle and the ceiling is very high but closed up pretty tight giving the section a room like feel.  And the floor can at times hold a little water in the center.  Chris Brennen’s site refers to this section as Belfast Boulevard while others call the tight section a few feet before getting to the junction with the Right Fork Belfast Boulevard.

Just after the wide bell shaped room the canyon opens up a little to a section that is a little reminiscent of the subway.  While there is no top to the section the walls are tall smooth and slightly rounded in while winding a couple times over a few hundred feet.  It feels like walking down a grand corridor.

Shortly after the grand corridor section the canyon opens up more and begins to become a wash with sections of sandstone and dirt along the floor.  A short distance down the wide open area is a drop of about 10 feet which can be down climbed on LDC of the head of the drop.  This is marked as the end of the canyon route (yLeprechaunBt).

The Exit:
Continue about 0.2 miles back to the spot where you started to climb up out of the wash (wLepRP-01).  Next continue down the wash another 0.5 miles to where you left the vehicle and started your journey.  Optionally you could start back up the sandstone slope up out of the canyon and go up to descend another fork of Leprechaun.

GPS Waypoint Information

GPX Files Available for DOWNLOAD.
Downloadable GPX files for many of the canyons listed here are now available at the BG-Gear Store.  In addition to the waypoints, the GPX files also offer routes and tracks for the canyon.  Over time more GPX files will be added.

If you want to avoid manually adding waypoints into your GPS or mapping software, want the additional routes and tracks or simply want to support the efforts put into BluuGnome, head over to the BG-Gear Store and grab the files that interest you.

Elevations are approximate.  Waypoints with no elevation data will display NaN in place of the elevation.

For information about my waypoint naming convention and map symbols, refer to the Glossary page.

Notes for GPS information:
BEFORE
entering coordinates from this website, please ensure your system (GPS or mapping software) is set to the same datum used here.  Waypoint coordinates are listed with WGS84 datum and in Lat/Lon hddd.ddddd° format.  Entering coordinate information with inconsistent datum's can result in the waypoints being off by hundreds of feet.  It is important to keep this in mind when entering waypoints from any source.

Leprechaun Middle Fork (1) - Approach
  1. extLeprechaun          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.01754   W -110.53717        Elev: 4,455 Feet
    Exit for the dirt road into the bottom of Leprechaun Canyon.
  2. tLeprechaun          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.01838   W -110.53685        Elev: 4,470 Feet
    Trailhead for Leprechaun Canyon. There is room to park a few vehicles here off to the side of the dirt road.
  3. wLepRP-01          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.02504   W -110.53285        Elev: 4,520 Feet
    Start climb out of wash here. Climb north up a sandstone nose on the left (west) just up canyon of a side drainage joining in from the left (west). The slope up is gentle and presents itself as the most obvious route up.
  4. wLepRP-02          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.02769   W -110.53232        Elev: NaN Feet
    Small slick rock saddle after skirting around the left of a small sandstone peak. Great Views over the Leprechaun Canyons.
  5. wLepRP-03          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.02908   W -110.53120        Elev: 4,810 Feet
    Second peak along the ridge after the saddle with the view over the Leprechaun Canyons.
  6. wLepRP-04          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.03070   W -110.53046        Elev: NaN Feet
    Faint trail turns left (west) and crosses over from the east side of the ridge to the west side of the ridge.
  7. wLepRP-05          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.03171   W -110.53071        Elev: NaN Feet
    Trail fades to nothing. Climb up the slick rock and continue north climbing more slick rock to the top of a steep slope.
  8. wLepRP-06          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.03200   W -110.53058        Elev: 4,943 Feet
    At the top of a steep slick rock slope. To the north is wide open flat desert dirt and views that go way off in the distance.
  9. yLep-LtFkTp          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.03542   W -110.52892        Elev: 4,975 Feet
    Top entry of the left fork for Leprechaun Canyon.
  10. wLepRP-07          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.03595   W -110.52893        Elev: 5,000 Feet
    Top of a short dirt bank that crosses the wash. Climb up out of wash here and travel east across the desert.
  11. wLepRP-08          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.03641   W -110.52505        Elev: 5,000 Feet
    A down climb down the rim into the west spur at the top of the Middle Fork of Leprechaun Canyon. This down climb is used if going down the west spur off the Middle Fork of Leprechaun.
  12. yLep-MdFkTp          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.03603   W -110.52447        Elev: 4,940 Feet
    Top of the Middle fork of Leprechaun Canyon.
Leprechaun Middle Fork (2) - Canyon and Exit
  1. yLep-MdFkTp          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.03603   W -110.52447        Elev: 4,940 Feet
    Top of the Middle fork of Leprechaun Canyon.
  2. dLepMidFkR1-2a          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.03587   W -110.52446        Elev: NaN Feet
    Raps 1 - 2 - west fork of Middle Fk Lep. Rap 1 anchored from a dead man anchor and drops about 20 feet. Rap 2 anchored from a choke stone and drops about 30 feet.
  3. dLepMidFkR1b          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.03576   W -110.52380        Elev: NaN Feet
    Rap 1 - east fork of Middle Fk Lep. Anchored from pinch point between boulders fallen at top of rap and drops about 30 feet.
  4. wLepRP-11          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.03542   W -110.52411        Elev: 4,890 Feet
    This is where the 2 small forks at the upper end of the Middle Fork of Leprechaun Canyon join. This area is wide in comparison to what is down canyon. Scrambling up out of the canyon from here can be done to escape if desired.
  5. dLepMidFkR3          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.03185   W -110.52774        Elev: NaN Feet
    Rap 3 - Middle Fk Lep. Anchored from a rock fin at the top of the rap and drops about 25 feet.
  6. jLepLftMid          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.03027   W -110.52862        Elev: 4,615 Feet
    Left and Middle forks of Leprechaun join.
  7. jLepRgtMid          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.02936   W -110.52918        Elev: NaN Feet
    Middle and Right forks of Leprechaun join.
  8. yLeprechaunBt          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.02688   W -110.53122        Elev: 4,560 Feet
    Bottom exit of Leprechaun Canyon. This is a few hundred feet after the long huge subway type area.
  9. wLepRP-01          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.02504   W -110.53285        Elev: 4,520 Feet
    Start climb out of wash here. Climb north up a sandstone nose on the left (west) just up canyon of a side drainage joining in from the left (west). The slope up is gentle and presents itself as the most obvious route up.
  10. tLeprechaun          Lat/Lon (WGS84):  N 38.01838   W -110.53685        Elev: 4,470 Feet
    Trailhead for Leprechaun Canyon. There is room to park a few vehicles here off to the side of the dirt road.