Trail running in the coast mountains of BC more often than not involves beginning with hours of ascent up a mountain in order to bag a summit before turning around and then descending back to the start. So it was amazing to find the opposite of that in Canyonlands National Park with the Syncline trail.
Starting from the parking lot we followed the trail counter-clockwise, as recommended in the local rag. This trail, another loop and about 14km, circumnavigates an area called Upheaval Dome – a large and extinct volcano. In hindsight, I probably would have preferred to run the trail the other way as it would mean for a steeper, but shorter ascent out of the canyon. Whichever way you go though, you’ll begin with a descent into the canyon.
If you head counter-clockwise too, the trail descends gradually for about 1.5km before then dropping into the canyon base down some steep switchbacks (about 400m in just over 1km). From this point on you follow the flat and dry canyon bottom all the way to where it intersects the Upheaval Canyon Trail.
The intersection of the Syncline Trail and Upheaval Canyon Trail marks the lowest point in the loop. Heading counter-clockwise it took us about 55 minutes to get here. Turning left will take you to the famous White Rim road and Green River, but we headed right, towards the centre of Upheaval Dome for a short distance, before turning left back on to the Syncline Trail. We then followed the Syncline trail again as it skirts north around the outer walls of Upheaval Dome, gradually climbing back out of the canyon.
All-in-all the trail took about 2.5 hours. We could have done it significantly quicker, but there were a lot of stops for photos (this is just a pinch of what I took). Would strongly recommend packing a ton of water and make sure you’re not doing the trail after rain fall given the chances of flash floods in some pretty closed sections of canyon.