Crack in the Mountain Trail
This scenic trail passes through one of the most famous slot canyons on the Lower Colorado. It ends at a scenic cove on the lake beside Balance Rock, a huge rock mass precariously balanced atop a narrow column of stone. Bighorn sheep are often present.
Time to Trailhead
From London Bridge:
Trailhead GPS coordinates:
N 34°26.626’ W 114°15.884’
Level of difficulty:
Moderate with climbing
Length of hike:
The Crack in the Mountain Trail, known by locals as "SARA's Crack," primarily follows a natural wash down to Lake Havasu, but the blue and green trails were established by Tim O'Connor in 1986. Balance Rock has been climbed by members of the Leaping Lizards Tribe.
Download Trail Map
Download BLM Topo Map
Destination GPS coordinates:
N 34°25.643’ W 114°17.497’
Directions to trailhead:
Drive south on Hwy 95 to McCulloch Blvd (mile post 177). Turn right and travel ¾ mile to the parking lot in SARA Park on the right (elev 860 ft).
Trail route instructions:
- NOTE: For several days after a rain, water may block your passage through the crack! Check the bulletin board in the parking lot or with returning hikers before you attempt to go through. If it is blocked, you may take the blue trail at mile post .8 to reach Balance Rock Cove on the lake.
- To begin your hike, go through the gate at SARA Park (Special Activities Recreation Area) and follow either trail (yellow or red) down to the canyon, which eventually narrows to an arms width, tumbling down a series of dry falls through the crack.
- Except for a seven-foot dry fall, you can, with care, readily negotiate the drops.
- The seven-footer is smooth and can be slid down, like in a playground. It is possible to climb back up on the rocks alongside the waterfall.
- If you proceed down the wash and into the slot canyon, the crack widens just before mile 1.4. Those not wishing to walk the additional mile to the lake can ascend the right bank on a trail which climbs to the upper route (blue trail) for the return .
- Otherwise, continue down the wash. When blocked by greenery, go up the trail on the right (blue trail) then cut left on the spur to the green trail over to the campsite at Balance Rock Cove (elev 450 ft) for a one-way total hike of 2.5 miles.
- The return is usually made all the way back on the upper route which meets the yellow and red trails.
- If you intend to spend more than 20 minutes within 200 feet of the campsite at Balance Rock, the user fee is $10 a day for up to six (6) people, with a $2 fee for each additional person. If you intend to camp, an additional overnight fee of $10 is good until 9 a.m. the following day.
- Fee ballards, known as "iron rangers," are located onsite beside the picnic table. Funds should be deposited in the permit envelope and dropped inside the ballard. You must present a use permit upon demand to any authorized Bureau of Land Management official inspecting the site.
* Aesthetic Rating: The more stars, the more desirable the trail the in terms of remoteness, natural features and scenic beauty
Arizona hiking safety
The rugged beauty of the Lake Havasu City area, just down the Colorado River from the Grand Canyon, makes a lasting impression. But the desert can be hazardous. Many trails are unmarked and infrequently traveled. Please consider these suggestions to make the most of your adventure:
- Avoid hiking during the summer, approximately June 15 to September 15, when daytime temperatures can reach 120° or more.
- Do not hike in washes when heavy rainfall is anticipated to avoid the threat of flash floods.
- Always take plenty of water; plan to carry at least one quart of water for every four hours you hike in direct sunlight.
- Wear a hat, sunglasses with UV-protection, and sunscreen.
- Print off a copy of the trail map from this webpage and carry it with you if you the route is unfamiliar.
- Wear sturdy, thick-soled shoes and use a hiking stick if you easily lose your balance.
- Never hike alone and always let a responsible person know where you’re going and when you expect to return.
- Plan to leave on your hike early in the day to avoid the risk of being lost on the trail after dark.
- Travel light; the less you carry the more you will enjoy the hike.
- Leave nothing behind. We want our trails to remain beautiful for your return!