The Place: Breaks Interstate Park

The Hike: Prospectors’ Trail and part of the River Trail

If you haven’t been to Breaks Interstate Park, you need to go. It’s not just the hiking there, although that’s the reason I spent most of a Monday there.

It’s called the Grand Canyon of the South. I can see that. Before you enter the park, there is an overlook you can walk down to. The Russell Fork from there looks like the Horseshoe Bend of the Colorado River at the Grand Canyon. (Google it and compare to below.)


However, hiking The Breaks about broke me.

This reiterated to me that others have long preached: take anything All Trails users say with a grain of salt.

I set out on an approximately 5 mile long hike in a big loop around the park. For an experienced hiker, it was rated “moderate.” For this experienced hiker, it may as well have been rated double-black-diamond difficult at the point I decided to turn around.

I started out at the parking lot to the Tower Tunnel Overlook. A few yards down the trail there, a split to the left takes you down the 0.4 mile Loop Trail. A little farther on the right, an orange blaze trail – the Prospectors’ Trail – branches toward the right.

The Prospectors’ Trail is 1.5 miles one way, so you’re looking at 3 miles out-and-back.

The PT, as I’m going to abbreviate it, generally pretty narrow. After branching away from the trail to the overlook, you’ll head slightly downhill, following the orange blazes. The first thing of note you’ll come to is rock overhang you get to climb through! I’m always of fan of vaguely cave-like structures to hike through.

From there, the trail continues along the base of the cliffs for the most part. There are some vaguely switchback like areas that can get very steep before you reach the second cool rock formation. This one, you march straight in and hang a left. You will have to be wary of a small boulder on the floor of the cave you have to make it over.

Once through here, the trail becomes narrower – like deer trail narrow. In some portions, it was not much wider than my foot. (Not fun.) The trail was also blanketed with dead leaves, which at points made it a bit slightly difficult to follow.

The largest obstacle, however, was the massive downed tree which blocked me from continuing on the PT. At that point, I decided to bushwhack down alongside the tree and hop on the River Trail.

While I did get some great views of the river far below, along with a great rock face that would be fun to try to climb. From there, it’s a steep downhill to another fascinating overhang/cave structure.

I made a water break at this point before tackling what was going to be the hardest part of the hike: the switchbacks.

This is where The Breaks about broke me.

These were very steep and buried under leaves. It was so steep that, at points, I was practically crawling down from blaze to blaze in an attempt to not break an ankle.

I eventually turned back after I lost the trail. I made it to a blaze and couldn’t find another one.

Looking back now, next time I’d just climb around that massive tree and find the rest of the the Prospectors’ Trail – or turn around. Really should have turned around. But this won’t be a hike I regret.

If you plan on hiking this, be sure to have plenty of water, a map and some experience under your belt. If sticking to just the PT, I’d rate this as moderate-difficult.